“Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up, take your mat and walk?” Mark 2:9
We are amazed with healing, with acts of physical prowess, with stupendous occurrences some may well call miracles. Everyone who saw Jesus tell a paralyzed man to stand up, pick up his mat, and walk were amazed when he did just that. They were not so moved by Jesus forgiving his sins, and the Pharisees even blamed Jesus for blasphemy for forgiving the sins of the paralytic as Jesus’ first response to the faith of the paralytic’s four friends who brought him to Jesus. Our thinking tends more to amazement of the physical than the spiritual with eternal results. In Mark 8 the Pharisees pressed Jesus for more physical signs. Jesus sighed deeply and told them they would not be given anymore physical signs. They completely missed the truth from Jesus that his spiritual message far exceeded the physical miracles he performed to establish his authority to say the things he did. His physical miracles of healing or turning water into wine were only benefits for life that would be overcome by death and the grave; his spiritual message spoke to life for all eternity.
Being rightly more impressed with the spiritual message of Jesus is a test of faith. What kind of faith do you truly have? Weak? Strong? Or increasing? Genuine faith is being SURE of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (the fulfillment of spiritual promises from God). And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he is and that he rewards those who EARNESTLY seek him. (Hebrews 11) Jesus well knows man’s perspective when he asks what is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk.” Of course we would say, “Anyone can say the words, “Your sins are forgiven.” But to say your paralysis is gone, your cancer has disappeared, your blind eyes can see, and it is so; that is to us far more difficult, if not impossible in our eyes; and far more impressive to our “physically-addicted” perspective. We are creatures drawn to physical impressiveness in hero worship, entertainment, feats of science, or medicine, and the like. The miracles of Jesus which overcame physical maladies would certainly attract our attention as they did his first century audience; more so than the spiritual truths which were the heart of the message of the gospel, and impact life forever.
A review of Hebrews 11 shows us what impresses the heart of God and for what he commends his children. It is faith which perseveres over time latching on to the promises for the future. It is faith which grasps the certainty of what is not yet. It is faith which invariably deals with time which must pass, and difficulties to be overcome. This is not “fast-food” faith! It is tough faith which will not be thwarted by the “thorns and thistles” of the world which test the mettle of that faith. We are prone to convoluted perspectives which is evident in Mark 2 and throughout the gospels. The solution is to be aware of our myopic vision, and by the truth of numerous examples in Jesus’ ministry retrain our eyes in faith to value spiritual truths and eternity as far weightier than the physical which passes away being temporary. It is not that God provides no provision and refreshment to us physically. He does. But it is that our hope might be encouraged and rest in him, never losing sight of the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10)
It is not a light thing to eschew sharpening your spiritual vision in an overwhelming, physically dominating world. It is a matter of necessity and of the Lord’s highest priority for you. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”–but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit…[and] we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:9,10 and 16) Nurture spiritual vision as you read the Word and as you see the world. Your sins forgiven is infinitely greater than any physical malady which remains unhealed this side of heaven.
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