Revealing Process

In these days, Muslim apologists try to poke holes in the idea that Jesus is, himself, God. They say silly things like:

Jesus never said, “I am God, worship me!”

And they say that because Jesus never said those precise words, he must therefore not be God. You see? Our logic is perfect. Jesus is not God. He is a prophet, and nothing more than a prophet!

To me, this strongly suggests that they have never actually read what Jesus did, nor what Jesus said.

I was reminded of this today as I read through Mark 2. The Pharisees and the rest of the Jewish people were trying to figure out who Jesus was. Jesus, through both his words and his actions, allowed them to see. Here are three examples in this one chapter:

First, some friends come to the house where Jesus is staying in Capernaum. They can’t get in because the crowds are so numerous that the doorway is blocked so they go up on the roof, dig a hole, and let their paralytic friend down on a mat through the hole in the roof. Jesus looks at the paralyzed man and instead of immediately healing him, Jesus tells him that his sins are forgiven.

The Pharisees who are there ask themselves, “Who is this that forgives sins. Only God can forgive sins!” And of course they are correct. Only God can forgive sins.

And yet Jesus tells the Pharisees that he wants them to know that he has this authority. Remember, only God can forgive sins, just as the Pharisees said. So what does Jesus do to prove that he has that authority? He asks whether or not it is easier to forgive sins or to tell the paralyzed man to pick up his mat and walk. And that is exactly what he was. The man is healed and he walks out of the house.

So the lesson is clear. The lesson isn’t just that Jesus can heal a paralytic. It isn’t that he was such a great teacher that there was a crowd there such that the friends couldn’t come in. The lesson is that Jesus is God! The Pharisees were exactly correct. Only God can forgive sins. And yet Jesus not only forgave them, but he also proved through the miracle that he had the authority to do so.

But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Mark 2:10-12

Next, let’s look at how Jesus refers to himself. With Levi, Jesus hangs out with the sinners, the tax collectors, the prostitutes. Jesus refers to them as the “sick”. Sick from what? Sick as a result of their sin. They are spiritually sick. They have the disease of sin corsing through them. But Jesus refers to himself as the doctor. He is the one who has the cure for their sickness. He is the God who can take away their sins. He is the one who can make them well.

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17

However, Jesus doesn’t stop there. He also refers to himself as the bridegroom. When the Pharisees come to ask Jesus why his disciples don’t fast like John’s disciples, he explains that the bridegroom is here. No one fasts while the bridegroom is with them. It is time to party! It is time to celebrate.

Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

Mark 2:19-20

Why would Jesus refer to himself as the bridegroom? The people of Christ are his bride. He has come to marry himself to them.

But maybe we can understand more from the question of fasting. The disciples and the Pharisees fast in their devotion to God. They take time to focus upon the Lord, not upon themselves and on their own needs, but upon God.

But if the bridegroom is with them, and we are referring to Jesus who is with the disciples, and the disciples are in question because of their lack of fasting, Jesus is saying that they don’t have to fast because the bridegroom is with them! God is there in their midst!

Now, finally, Jesus is questioned as to why his disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath. Jesus points out that even David and his men did what was unlawful by eating the bread in the temple that was dedicated to God. That was considered to be unlawful as well, and yet they were celebrated for what they had done.

So Jesus says that the Sabbath is intended to serve the people, not the people to serve the sabbath. The Sabbath should give rest, but if the people can’t eat, we shouldn’t be slaves to the Sabbath. In other words, you do not simply follow rules thinking that you are going to please God by following the rules. There is a need, in this case, a need to eat. The Sabbath should not stop them from eating.

Jesus is, though, even more pointed in his explanation. He says that he, himself, is the Lord of the Sabbath.

Let’s remember where the Sabbath came from. First, God had rested on the seventh day, a rest that continues to this day. That seventh day never ended.

Then, God commanded the Israelites in the midst of the 10 Commandments to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. The Israelites were commanded to do no work on that day. It was to be only a day of rest.

So keeping the Sabbath was commanded by God. But now, Jesus says he is the Lord of the Sabbath. He is the Lord over a command that was given by God? Yes, because he is, himself, God.

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Mark 2:27-28

Should we think that, in our feeble minds, we can come up with arguments that suggest that because Jesus didn’t say exactly what I think he should have said, he is therefore not God? No, that makes no sense. In fact, let’s think about what would have happened. Imagine that Jesus does exactly what Muslims suggest that he should have done, saying:

I am God, worship me!

Immediately, Jesus would have been taken for a crazy man, or a blasphemer, or both. He would have no credibility. No opportunity to do what he was actually there to do. He wouldn’t be able to teach his disciples. His timing would have been man’s timing for his death, not God’s timing. That would have been pretty silly and worthy of a lot of doubt…exactly how we should think about our Muslim friend’s arguments.

Instead, Jesus is revealing himself to the people. Those who had eyes to see and ears to hear would be able to do so. They would be able to see Jesus’s miracles, hear that he was giving forgiveness to sinners, and understand that he had the authority to do all of these things. May God forgive us for placing our own expectations upon Jesus.

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