“And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk‘?” Mark 2:6-9 (NKJV)
As usual when Jesus did something amazing there were those around who griped about it. All through Jesus ministry He was criticized and opposed by those who didn’t like what He did and the way He did it. Here they accused Him of blasphemy. He had told the man that his sins had been forgiven. This was something that only God could do. Who did this Jesus think He was to claim to be able to forgive sins?
Now in a way they were right. Forgiving sins is the territory of God. He and He alone has the power and the right to forgive sins. But as we know Jesus wasn’t just an ordinary guy. He was the Son of God. He was God in the flesh. He had all the power and authority of God. So if He said someone’s sins were forgiven, they were forgiven.
In these verses we see two things Jesus did to prove He had the power to do what He said He could do. The first was the He knew what was in their hearts. Jesus responded to what they didn’t say. He knew the thoughts and intents of their hearts. This is something that only God can do.
Secondly He backed up His claim with a miracle.
“But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”–He said to the paralytic, I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’ Mark 2:10-12 (NKJV)
In my mind this is pretty important. Jesus is basically telling them, “Alright, I’ll show you I have the authority to forgive sins.” He then proved His power by doing a miracle. Did this convince them? Not really. Just a few verses later in Mark we find the Scribes and Pharisees criticizing and opposing Jesus again (See verses 13-16). Jesus had proved that He had the authority of the Messiah. Yet they continue to criticize and oppose Him.
Fact, if you seek to serve God with all of your heart you will face opposition. You have to determine not to be intimidated by this and to keep on serving God. Being criticized by the crowd is something that happened to everyone who valued people as Jesus did in the Bible. Peter was harassed when he took the Gospel to the Gentiles. If you read Paul’s letters you find him having to defend himself in many of them. Over and over again in Scriptures we find that the crowd criticized those who determined they would serve God with all of their hearts.
So what do we do when the crowd criticizes us? We determine that we are going to be bulldog Christians and we say what Paul said, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10 (NLT) We keep on doing what Jesus wants us to and we ignore them.
I have two quotes that I keep near me all the time. One is in my day planner and it comes from a book I read called Can We Do That? by Ed Young Jr. He said, “If you live in fear of criticism you will never achieve God’s vision for your life and church.” The other comes from Rick Warren. He said, “When you are small they will dismiss you. When you are growing they will resent you, and when you are big they will talk about you. So ignore them and keep on doing what Jesus wants you to do.”
If you are going to be a bulldog Christian you are going to have to expect to have opposition for your service to Jesus. If you are going to be a bulldog Christian you are also going to have to determine that you are not going to be intimidated by this opposition. You are going to keep on keeping on, no matter what anyone else says.