6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 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!”
This same encounter is also mentioned in Matthew 9:1-8 and covered on September 19 and September 20, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s verse of the day respectively. I like Mark’s version because he says Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts whereas Matthew said Knowing their thoughts Jesus asked Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? (9:4) Above Jesus asks it a bit differently, Why are you thinking these things?
In both versions Jesus is aware of their heart condition. In Matthew they are entertaining evil thoughts in their hearts and in Mark they were thinking in their hearts those things and He knew! Major lesson here for all of us, God knows our hearts. Even if we are successful at deceiving ourselves, we will be unsuccessful at deceiving God. He knows. In Matthew we know they had thoughts, but in Mark we learn they were thinking meaning – in my opinion – they were busy justifying why this was wrong instead of seeing a miracle of God as many of those who observed did.
In John 5 Jesus healed another man and told him to pick up his mat and walk. He did as instructed and instead of seeing the miracle as by God, the Pharisees rebuked the man saying It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat. (John 5:10) Of course the law said no such thing, but the Pharisees additional rules forbade doing so. So, what is the point? We can do any number of things thinking we are following God’s directions, but often times it is simply tradition and/or doctrine. Traditions and doctrine can be good, but we have to be careful not to let them replace God’s actual word as the Pharisees did.
We, as Christians, have the Holy Spirit indwelling and always ready to provide direction for us to avoid going against God’s will. But we can be as stiff-necked and stubborn as any Jew in the Old Testament and try to justify what in our heart of hearts we know is wrong. The Bible and the Holy Spirit are always there ready to testify to what is right if we will only listen.
Are you listening?