Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 3 Study # 5
May 13, 2007
22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?
23 Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?
24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.
25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
1901 ASV Translation
22 But Jesus perceiving their reasonings, answered and said unto them, Why reason ye in your hearts?
23 Which is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk?
24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath authority on earth to forgive sins (he said unto him that was palsied), I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go unto thy house.
25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his house, glorifying God.
- I. Jesus' Anticipation of Their "Logic".
- A. Jesus' "knowledge" of their reasonings was acute and particular -- He knew exactly what they were thinking.
- 1. He knew their theology forward and backward.
- 2. He knew their antagonism, having lived with a form of it all of His life in Nazareth.
- 3. He knew the directions that all human beings take. If Pilate could "know" that it was for envy that He was delivered up to him, it would not be remarkable for Jesus to "know" even more than Pilate did (Mark 15:10 uses the same terminology as our text).
- B. Jesus' questioning of the nature of their reasonings was designed to do two things.
- 1. To reveal to them that He already knew how they were thinking.
- 2. To force them to have to deal with "The Facts".
- II. Jesus' Question.
- A. Which is "easier" to say?
- 1. Jesus was raising the question of which kind of declaration was able to be validated in reality.
- a. He was not asking which set of words was easiest.
- b. He was dealing with how men can decide the answers to the questions that they were asking: Who is this? and, Who but God can forgive sins? The first assumed "blasphemy" and the second assumed "justification for the first assumption". They were cock-sure that they were "right".
- 2. Clearly, "forgiveness" cannot be validated in visible history: it is a concept of the heart of God and no one can "see" that.
- 3. Just as clearly, "rise and walk" can either be done or not in visible history.
- B. What legitimacy does an unsubstantiated "conclusion" have?
- 1. No one can deny what is in the heart of God with any legitimacy unless he knows that heart forward and backward.
- 2. No one can deny that an action accomplished in history is "of God" unless he can show that it is "anti-Life". If a person goes away from an experience "glorifying God", the on-lookers must be very careful indeed to claim it is demonic. When Jesus asked at another time "...for which of those works do ye stone Me?" (John 10:32), He was compelling them to show how those works were "anti-Life". They could not do that, and both He and they knew it.
- a. On this occasion they immediately "ran to" an entrenched "theological position".
- b. And, on this occasion, Jesus was able to challenged the validity of that entrenchment. Once the validity was questionable, the "works" had a viable place in the debate (John 10:38). Entrenched theology is both extremely beneficial and extremely dangerous. If it is true, the entrenchment keeps us safe; but if it is false, the entrenchment keeps us enslaved.
- III. Jesus' "Proof".
- A. He did, in sensory-based history, an action that had to be explained.
- B. It was His claim that the legitimate explanation was that His words about the invisible realities of God were true because of the work.
- 1. It is interesting indeed that the Revelation tells us that the "Antichrist" will adopt the same argument.
- 2. How valid is an argument that the devil can use?
- a. According to 2 Thessalonians 2:6-12, the Antichrist will arise "...according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved...". It is very clear here that Satan will adopt the very same tactic that Jesus used, and that God will allow it.
- b. Obviously the potency of an argument that rests upon the demonstration of powerful miracles cannot be easily dismissed. But, just as obviously, there is a breakdown somewhere in the "logic" of it or Satan could not use it.
- c. In Jesus' question and in Paul's declaration in 2 Thessalonians 2 the key issue is to be found in Jesus' words "in your hearts" (Luke 5:22) and Paul's words "they received not the love of the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Both of these phrases address the crucial core issue: what is it that one really wants? All of the "reasoning" process is highly susceptible to the attitude of the heart (Ephesians 4:17-18). It is not, at root, a matter of "logic" -- since no man can be sure of the legitimacy of it without all of the facts and no man has all of the facts -- but of "heart".