“All were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’” Mark 2:12
All were amazed but were they all amazed in the same way and for the same reason? The answer is not in the passage but it is in the Gospel records. In the incident Mark describes all were amazed but there are two possible reasons for that amazement; the miracle or the words of Jesus. Either would have caused amazement to His Jewish audience.
The purpose of the miracle in Mark 2:1-12 is to demonstrate that Jesus has authority to forgive sin (v 10). Only God has that authority so Jesus is declaring Himself to be God. The miracle was to confirm Jesus’ authority to make such a statement but being physically healed was not evidence that the man was forgiven. The evidence that the man is forgiven is revealed in the man’s faith demonstrated when he obeyed Jesus by taking up his bed and walking.
People often seek the miracle of physical healing but are less interested in seeking forgiveness of sin. The people on this occasion were amazed and gave glory to God for either the miracle or that the man’s sins were forgiven. In either case each person realised that God had done a wonderful thing and in that recognition they gave God the glory. However, it meant different things to the two possible groups. One group glorified God for the miracle of healing and the other group glorified God that in Jesus Christ their sins could be forgiven.
The man knew his sins were forgiven. If he didn’t, he would not have obeyed Jesus and taken up his bed and walked. The many who witnessed the words and miracle of Jesus had a choice. They could either accept the testimony of Jesus or reject it. The miracle was of no value to them in itself. The man would still eventually physically die and so would they.
Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (v 17). Some in the gathering did not see themselves as sinners and went away amazed with the miracle of healing but with sins still unforgiven. Any who recognised that they were sinners, as the formerly paralytic man had, had the opportunity to go away forgiven.
Jesus would later say, “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it” (8:35-37). Those who seek physical healing often forget that their bodies will still eventually die even if they are healed of the current malady, then what? Those who have their sins forgiven are forgiven for eternity and their bodies will be healed for eternity in the resurrection.
Luke records that Jesus sent out seventy disciples to give witness to the coming Kingdom. When they returned they were all chatting among themselves about the miracles they had performed (Luke 10:17) but Jesus quickly pointed them to the most important thing. He said to them, “rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (v 20). Their names are not written in heaven because they have experienced personal physical healing or even that they have healed others. Their names are in heaven because their sins are forgiven.
The trend these days for many is to seek physical healing and neglect the infinitely more important matter of forgiveness of sin.
I am glad that I have a doctor who is treating me through my current bronchitis but I am immeasurably happier that my sins are forgiven. That is what amazes me – Amazing Grace that saved a sinner such as I.