The house is packed. One wouldn’t even find standing room in this home, as people from all over the region of Galilee have flocked here to this northern town of Capernaum. Every room, window, and doorway is filled because of what is taking place inside. There is a man inside teaching radical things. He is turning status quo religion on its head, and is painting a newer, truer, deeper picture of reality. Who wouldn’t have been going to check this guy out? It was a day without computers, televisions, iPhones, or electronics of any kind. People lived simply, largely lived off of the land or through ranching or fishing. When the news reached their ears of this curious man—Yeshua from Nazareth— took up residence (albeit temporarily) in a town just a few hours walk away, why wouldn’t they make the journey to see for themselves what He was all about?
"Who is this Jesus?”
is even today arguably the most important question, which necessitates a most important spiritual journey. Let’s take a look at a short story in the book of Mark at the beginning of chapter 2, which in part concisely answers our question.
About a month ago, I returned from a trip to Israel and Jordan, during which we were able to tour the region of Galilee, including the ancient town of Capernaum. Today, what is left of these homes are some outlines of ancient rooms among blackened foundation stones. There is one home which has parts of a wall remaining, as well as some plaster design work in a place likened to be the home of Peter. Back in the first century, it was a fisherman’s town as it borders the Sea of Galilee. Even today it is beautiful, especially on a sunny day where the greens and browns of palms and olive trees are contrasted by blue sky and the blue waters of the sea. In the first century the homes varied in size, but they had flat roofs usually made of thatched sticks and hardened mud. The story picks up at the packed out home, when a group of four men bring another paralyzed man to find Jesus.
These men maneuver the bed through the roof, and downward before Jesus. They interrupted His sermon. This would have been disturbing to any other preacher, or any other group of people. But this was actually endearing to Jesus. Jesus sees their faith—the faith of the men and the paralytic—and He is moved. He truly sees their faith. He acknowledges it and immediately responds. He says "Son, your sins are forgiven." Son—oh man, to be called a son and to hear it from the lips of Jesus! Who else can bestow authentic identity upon someone! Even before sins are forgiven, we are sons.
"Your sins are forgiven."Jesus acts in authority, for He cannot do otherwise. He is the Creator, the Savior, the One who is able to redeem. This flows out of His lips so naturally, for He knows who He is, and He acts accordingly. A tree is known by its fruit. Out of the abundance of the heart does the mouth speak. We see a response by these men to the knowledge that Jesus can heal and save. Their response was faith. We see a response to that faith by Jesus, the response is blessing and forgiveness.
Taking in this scene is a group of religious officials. Here we see a response to this exchange by outsiders who judge this scene. How incredible it is that these men stand outside the situation, aloof in their own religiosity, and judge it to be evil. They were questioning the content and manner in which Jesus was speaking. Jesus’ remarks were revolutionary, and to them, unacceptable. He had a way of speaking which could only come from someone higher than the religious authorities, and the only one above them (temporally) was the king. Here Jesus is acting with the authority of a king. All throughout the gospels, these men were ticked when they heard Jesus speak and act in such ways. In their eyes He was blaspheming. "Who can forgive but God alone?” they say. Exactly.
Jesus senses and understands in His own spirit that they were questioning within themselves. He reads them well. Jesus responds by shedding light on what is concealed in the darkness of their own hearts. "Why do you question these things in your hearts? 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 to forgive sins...I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” The man is healed! Assessing the situation and questioning in their hearts, Jesus then does something that only God can do. Only the One with Supreme Authority could supernaturally heal a paralytic to the point where he stands up, gathers his bed and leaves. Jesus shows them that He is operating with a higher authority as God, who can indeed forgive sins.
The scene erupts into jubilation. They were all amazed and glorified God. This indicates that they gave God all of the fame and credit for what happened. I wonder if they were praising God above or God before them in Jesus? Or both?
As for each one of us, we can confidently come to Jesus as the Source of revelation and information, as the One who can heal us and forgive us, and as the one who can recreate us from within.
This story offers a striking answer to our question, in that Jesus is revealed to be a Man, a Revelator, the Creator, the Savior, God, King, Redeemer, and Healer. Amazing!
Who is Jesus to you?
For more information on the doctrine of the Son, click here.