Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mark 2--Dialogue

A: Why do the scribes say that Jesus is blaspheming when he forgives the paralytic's sins? Why do they say, "Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

M: It's true, only God can forgive sins. Thinking that we can forgive sins might make us think we were gods ourselves.

A: But at the Beautiful Gate in Acts 3, Peter says, "I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth stand up and walk." They later say to the crowds, "Men, Israelites, why are gazing as if by our own power or godliness we made him to walk." Jesus says in Mark 2, "which is easier to say to the paralytic, 'your sins are forgiven' or to say, 'stand up and walk."' This implies that both are equally difficult,indeed impossible with man. But with God all things are possible, therefore by God's power we can forgive sins.

M: Okay, but only by God's power. But there is something I still don't like in that formulation. I'm confused.

A: Yeah, me too, let's go back to the original question how come the scribes are saying that only God can forgive sins? Is this because in Torah it is God who gives the sacrifices that cover sin? In Torah the whole thrust seems to be God freeing the children of Israel first from the iron furnace of Egypt and then from their sins. At first as you read Leviticus for instance it seems like these people out in the desert are appeasing God for some reason, then it slowly dawns on you that God is providing for the forgiveness of sins; it's all him. But even in Leviticus it says, "the priest shall make atonement" for so and so's sin.

S: The question still stands then, why do the scribes who know the Bible backwards and forwards say that Jesus shouldn't say, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

A: I'm confused.