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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

September 5, 2014

The unverifiable healing

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

On one occasion when Jesus preached in Capernaum, a handicapped person was brought to Him: "They came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, Son, your sins are forgiven you” (Mark 2:3-5).

There were some scribes among those present that day. Their reaction to Jesus' words was to be expected: "Why does this man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (verse 7).

Jesus reacted immediately to their mental protest: "Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, Arise, take up your bed and walk?" (verses 8-9).

Jesus' contrast has to do with what one says. What observable proof is there for the statement "Your sins are forgiven you"? This claim cannot be proven empirically. In one large Christian denomination you can hear these words spoken every day at the confessional. But no one observing would see the sins "leave" the person hearing those words.

So it is far easier just to say "Your sins are forgiven you"!

Even the levitical sacrifices did not provide forgiveness of sin. "For the law . . . can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins" (Hebrews 10:1-4).

What the levitical sacrifices could not do, Jesus achieved through His own sacrifice:

"Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:12-14).

As proof of His authority to forgive sins, Jesus said to the doubting scribes:

"But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins – He said to the paralytic, I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house. Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all" (Mark 2:10-12).

Christ did what harder to verify: He healed the handicapped man. In so doing, He also proved His authority to provide spiritual healing via the forgiveness of sin.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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