May my lips and heart and words be ever in Thy
Most of us have heard of how the apostle
Thomas doubted Christ’s resurrection until he touched the wounds inflicted
on the risen lord. And ever since then he has been known as “Doubting
One of the earliest American presidents
appropriately shared his name: the third President of the United States,
Thomas Jefferson, rewrote the whole Bible because of his doubts.
And do you know what he did? He took out
all the miracles. Jefferson removed the virgin birth, the healings, the
water turned into wine, walking on water, feeding the multitudes, driving
demonic spirits out of people, raising the dead, and most importantly, he
even erased the Resurrection of Christ after the Crucifixion.
Jefferson preferred to see Jesus as a
philosopher, rather than the Son of God. He was suspicious of anything he
couldn’t prove himself. And he couldn’t prove miracles. Jefferson
believed in the world around him and how people live in it – simply
because he didn’t believe in the next world.
In fact Jefferson believed that most people
simply claimed the faith of Christ because of their fear of death and the
Christian promise of eternal salvation after death. But, on the other
hand, most of them did not practice the teachings of Jesus while living
in this world.
Jefferson’s version of the Bible was
written only two hundred years ago, but we have just heard in Mark’s
Gospel that learned men two thousand years ago questioned not merely
Christ’s ability to work miracles, but particularly his ability to grant
the greatest of His miracles: His ability to forgive sins! Jefferson
and these ancient Hebrew scribes were in complete agreement on that.
At the time of Mark’s story, Christ was
living in Capernum. And what he did every day that He lived there, was to
preach to the crowds who came to hear Him. They even came to His home to
learn more and to be near Him. His house was so crowded, as Mark
relates, that friends of a man who was totally paralyzed and unable to
approach Jesus, took part of the roof of the house off, so that they could
lower him and his bed down into the room below – and into the presence of
This positive action and the faith of these
people touched Christ and He turned to the paralytic and said, “My son
your sins are forgiven . . . “
These words infuriated the scribes who were
there to debate and learn more of what Christ’s was preaching. In their
hearts they were muttering about His blasphemy, to dare to speak as if He
had such power. As far as they were concerned, it was one thing to be
able to cure people: after all, that was a gift prophets had possessed in
the past. BUT to forgive sins: that was intruding upon the turf of
Yahweh: the domain of God. To them, that was intolerable.
Jesus responded to their unspoken outrage.
He said, “Why do you question what I am doing 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?’ ” That confused them: what is the
difference between miracles of healing and forgiving? That was Christ’s
challenge to them . . . and they had no answer, nothing except ancient
notions and prejudices.
So, to demonstrate his authority, his
ability to heal and forgive . . . Jesus Christ, this Son of God . . .
turned to the paralytic and said, ‘ I say to you, rise, take up your
pallet and go home.’ And that is exactly what happened.
The man did as he was told and departed,
without so much as stopping to say thank-you: probably the most amazed
person at the gathering. Moments earlier his earnest friends had been
carving a hole through the roof and dropping him at Jesus’ feet; then the
debate between the learned men and now he was walking, on his own feet,.
With his bed tucked under his arm, the paralytic stepped forth whole and
healthy walked as he had never walked before.
Everyone was amazed and praised God because
they had never seen anything like this before.
They had been able to see: and that led
them to believe. They heard the words of Jesus the Son of God. They had
faith in their own eyes and ears, so had faith in Jesus, the Messiah.
But we no longer walk with the flesh and
blood Jesus. We no longer see the miracles or accompany Him on His
teaching tours of the Gallilean countryside or gather on the hillside to
eat the food Jesus has provided or crowd into the local synagogue or into
His Capernaum home to be with Jesus and see and weigh the arguments of
those ancient scribes who challenged Him.
But in 2006 we still can have our sins
forgiven. We can still have our souls healed. We can still follow in the
footsteps of our Saviour. We still can still the voices of the skeptics
and those who scorn His saving grace: we can bear witness to the God of
Love in our lives and in our homes and in our hearts.
Jesus was able to make the crippled walk,
the deaf hear and the blind see. He could even raise the dead to life.
But the great miracle he brought to us was the healing of souls, the
repairing of what is not seen, the promise of life everlasting that gives
meaning and joy and true love.
He says to each of us, ‘Cast aside all that
is between you and me. My heart is open to your fears and dreams. I know
your sins and your doubts. Come to me and I will free you from the
crippling shackles of sin, free you to walk strong and proud in My
Two thousand years ago scribes were
offended by Christ’s miracle of forgiveness. Two hundred years ago
Jefferson discarded the miracles he could not believe in. Even Christ’s
own apostle, Thomas doubted whether it was truly Christ who lived again.
Both men with their worries and doubts probably raised a chuckle to the
lips of Christ: for Christ believed in both of those Thomases, just as He
believes and loves each of us – despite all our doubts and our sins and