Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?”
After I read the verse above a few times a few observations and thoughts came to mind. First of all, Jesus knew what they were thinking. He knew! And the thinking was in their hearts not in their minds. Not a single translation of this verse uses minds instead of hearts. I believe because He knew what they were thinking in their hearts, the question He asks is rhetorical. He knows why, but He wants them to know and question what they are thinking. Vine’s Expository Dictionary provides a definition clearly pointing in the desired direction of self examination of their hidden motivations as the word for heart
came to stand for man’s entire mental and moral activity, both the rational and the emotional elements. In other words, the heart is used figuratively for the hidden springs of the personal life. “The Bible describes human depravity as in the ‘heart’, because sin is a principle which has its seat in the center of man’s inward life, and then ‘defiles’ the whole circuit of his action. …. The heart, as lying deep within, contains ‘the hidden man,’ 1 Peter 3:4, the real man. It represents the true character but conceals it.
J. Laidlaw, in Hastings’ Bible Dic.
So what is the context of this verse, what happened so that Jesus would ask them such a pointed question?
17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20 When Jesus saw their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
So their thoughts were not focused on Jesus’ amazing ability to heal the sick which revealed Him not to be simply a man. They ignored the clear evidence of His works and miracles in healing the sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed. They refused to entertain the thought this might indeed be the Messiah, the Christ so they focused on the hope of accusing Him of blasphemy. As a result Jesus after asking Why are you thinking these things in your hearts continued on with another question, a statement about who He is, and then He healed the man.
23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
Notice the people had some basic understanding of what had happened before them. They did not think to accuse Jesus of blasphemy, but instead they were amazed and gave praise to God. They, in their hearts, knew such a miracle could only come from God, which the hearts of the Pharisees blinded them from seeing.
What does your heart reveal – to you – about what you truly believe? Do your actions reveal what your heart believes versus what you might say to others? Self-examination can be good for the soul.
It’s Monday and I hope you have a Great Week and consider if your thoughts and action are aligned where they concern God and His Son.