Term of Endearment
randal, November 3, 2003 2:51:00 PM GMT
by J. Randal Matheny
"And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'My son, your sins are forgiven'" (Mark 2:5, ESV).Jesus is at his tenderest when he is forgiving sins. This fulfills his deepest desire and satisfies man's direst need. How better to show this to all than to forgive a very sick man whose friends have made extraordinary effort to carry him to the Lord? Jesus saw "their" faith, that of the paralytic and his friends. Perhaps the paralytic infected his friends with his faith, or they inflamed their sick friend with hope. The text does not say. But the man was certainly a full participant in getting to Jesus. The expectation and effort of the five brings the love of Jesus to bear on the one.
Aside from serving as an act of divine compassion, the miracle demonstrates Jesus' authority to forgive sins. It is Mark's opening demonstration that "miracles are confirmation of the word"1 (see Mark 16:20). In this manner, the Lord focuses upon the more basic need of the soul rather than bodily sickness. The latter, if not in this specific case, results from the former.
When Jesus says, "Your sins are forgiven," he makes it happen as he says it. In his Greek grammar, Daniel Wallace calls the verb an instantaneous present. The act is completed at the moment of speaking. The speaking brings the fact into existence. He says it is so, and it becomes so. Similar to the minister who says, "I now pronounce you man and wife." The phrase not only states a fact, but produces it as well.
"My son," says Jesus. The Greek is teknon, "child." In a context like this, the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament calls it "an intimate address to those not related" (V:639). A special term of endearment for one who has overcome the obstacles to reaching Jesus. A badge of honor, the highest decoration, the most precious compliment.
Jesus is touched by their faith and, especially, that of the paralytic. He is moved by their effort as friends toward a most holy goal. His compassion is stirred by the man's sense of need.
Quickly, to dispell all doubt about the propriety of their action, he addresses the paralytic, "My son." Their deed was no interruption. For such a moment as this has Jesus come to speak the all-important words, "your sins are forgiven."
Jesus did all things well (Mark 7:37). His best was forgiving sins. In forgiving, he shows his tender heart. He expresses his love to one and to all. He folds us into his intimate communion.
And he smiles the joy of the Father over the determined penitent.
"My son, your sins are forgiven."
Welcome to the Kingdom.
1Julius Schniewind, O evangelho segundo Marcos (Uniao Cristao, 1989), p. 44. My translation.
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