Mark 2:1-12 Which Is Easier?
It would be wrong to suggest that the majority of the crowds simply wanted physical healing. Here in this passage we read that the people were packed into the house, even to the door, simply to hear the word of God preached (vv. 1-2). There was one man however, who also had a pressing physical need, and his friends loved him so much they were determined to get him to Jesus, even if it meant uncovering the roof and lowering him down from there (vv. 3-4). As it turned out, this was a perfect opportunity to show the crowd that he had a greater gift to offer them all then simply physical healing, for when he saw the man he said, “Son, your sins are forgiven you” (v. 5).
To the scribes, those entrusted with the word of God, this was blasphemous, because Jesus was a man just like them, but here he was declaring the forgiveness of sins by his own self-referential authority. They knew this was the prerogative of God alone. Note well, they didn’t speak these thoughts, this was what they reasoned in their hearts – the core of their beings (vv. 6-8). We do not know if this man committed some particular sins that Jesus was referring to, the fact that he uses the plural ‘sins’ would seem to suggest all the man’s sins. Why would Jesus only forgive some particular sins? No, Jesus gives us the purpose for him stating this, instead of telling him simply to get up.
Jesus also had some internal thing going on as well. He perceived in his spirit what the scribes were reasoning. Part of this was good – one of the things he wanted the people to understand was that he did indeed have the self-referential authority to forgive sins. He had placed these men in a dilemma – the man was healed when Jesus declared his sins forgiven, but like many today, they simply could not wrap their heads around him being God. Jesus continues to place people in this position, if they are not so hardened that they cannot perceive it. When people look at Jesus they have to reconcile themselves with these points where Jesus claims true divinity.
Which is easier? No one else has to suffer to tell the man to get up and walk. That is simply God restoring physical health to a man, just as God in his mercy grants a sustaining physical health to many. No, for him to say to this man that his sins were forgiven, was to say to him, what the LORD had been saying to his covenant people since clothing our first parents in the garden, to the gospel promise of Genesis 3:15 – Jesus would bear the punishment this man justly deserved when his earthly ministry would come to a close. God already showed this man mercy, that he lived to hear these precious words from his Saviour, words greater than telling him to take up his bed and walk (v. 9).
The people, including the scribes, needed to know that “the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins (v. 10). This was a sign and wonder that backed up his new covenantal word – the gospel of the kingdom he was preaching to them, in this house, and no doubt passed on to the former paralytic’s house (v. 11). The end and purpose of all that God says and does was achieved – he was glorified, and the people saw something that only God could do – miraculously heal the sick, but more importantly, forgive sins. Which is easier? Jesus suffered at the cross. This was the hardest work ever a man performed. In all our seeking for his help, such a price calls us to seek forgiveness.