Thursday, March 7, 2024

Which Is Easier To Say?

 For a long time I didn’t quite understand the logic of what Jesus says in Mark 2:9–11. 

“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”

When Jesus asks “which is easier to say,” what is the assumed answer? Is it easier to say “your sins are forgiven,” or is it easier to say “take up your bed and walk?” He’s obviously not referring to the difficulty of literally verbalizing each phrase, as in the way barbecue sauce is easier to say than worcestershire sauce. But he’s also not asking about the amount of power it takes in order to accomplish what is spoken, as the greater and more significant act would be the forgiveness of sins rather than the healing of the body.

And yet, when Jesus asks which is easier to say, I think the assumed answer is “your sins are forgiven,” because it’s more of a question about which is easier to prove or demonstrate. Even though forgiving someone’s sins is the greater act, it nevertheless cannot be empirically proven to have actually taken place. Anyone could go around saying “your sins are forgiven,” but how could we ever be sure it’s for real? This is why it’s more difficult to say “take up your bed and walk,” because then we can all look and see if the paralytic actually walks, or if the supposed healer was just blowing smoke.

So what Jesus essentially says here is, “I’m going to prove that I have the power to do something you can’t see with your eyes, by doing something that you can see with your eyes. I’m going to prove that I have the power to forgive sins, by giving this paralytic the ability to walk.”

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

No Going Back

Israel wanted a king, and they got one. But then they realized it wasn’t everything they thought it would be. We might think the natural response would be, “Ok, we don’t like this as much as we thought, so let’s make the Lord our king again.” But that’s not how this works from God’s perspective. There isn’t an undo button. Israel wanted a king, and they got one.

And this new arrangement entails not only being ruled by a king, but also any and all other sociopolitical realities that go along with it, effectively paving the way for different forms of government in the course of time (oligarchy, democracy, etc). The common thread that ties all such forms of government together is that they represent mankind being ruled by himself rather than God. And this is what we’re stuck with now. There’s no going back to the way it used to be.