Bible Studies & Devotionals
From Olive Branch Ministries
By Mark and Tinsley Baker
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Which is Easier?
Mark 2:1 And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 2. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. 3. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. And when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.
5. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven you.''
6. But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7. "Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?'' 8 And 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? 9. "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, `Arise, take up your bed and walk'? 10. "But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins'' He said to the paralytic, 11. "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go your way to your house.'' 12. And 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!''
Jesus has a way of getting to the heart of a problem doesnít He? Several things were going in this account of the paralytic man needed healing, and they all needed to be dealt with. This man was in need of physical healing, and yet there was an unbelief problem going on in the room. Sometimes you have to deal with root problems first in order to get to the overlying problem. Jesus took this opportunity to give them and us as well; a lesson in faith. Jesus is the master teacher and wants us to be enlightened. Understanding Godís ways is the beginning of trusting Him. We have to have a firm foundation to believe if we are ever going to see the manifested power of God. To get to the root core of the problem, Jesus asked them a very simple question. The question wasnít for His benefit, the question was for their benefit. They needed to understand the answer if they were ever going to get beyond their unbelief. He wanted them to understand, yet they were so hard hearted they wouldnít even consider the question. I would say this same question applies to us today. In many modern churches you have no problem getting people born again, there is not a problem in believing that God will forgive their sin, yet healing seems to be a mystery. They donít know if God will heal them or not. Most would say I believe He could if he wanted to, but they donít know if He wants to. If it wasnít His will in the first place He would never forgive sins, and if it wasnít His will in the first place He would never heal. My question is this, on what basis does God have to legally heal us, or forgive us of sin? And, what basis do we have to believe God for either if theyíre not already covered in the atoning work of Calvary? This is the underlying question that absolutely has to be answered.
We know God is not a respecter of persons because the Word says this, yet so many Christians today are stuck in this kind of mindset where they just arenít ready to believe. They are just not sure what or how to believe for that matter. There is good news, things can change, and hope can be restored. I would like to share a testimony that may help some get a hold of this truth. About a month ago at the time of this writing, my wife and I went to Bulgaria and held a healing crusade. Our main focus on this trip was to encourage those to whom we were ministering to believe the faithfulness of God. We had a great time there, and saw that God was faithful to honor His Word. The last night of the crusade we had a service where we prayed for those needed healing. One particular man had stage four lung cancer, and was scheduled to have surgery to have one of his lungs removed. I remember him very well, as he was too weak to come up for prayer, we had to go back to him. Several weeks went by and we received a testimony from the pastor there telling us what happened next. One of the dear saints in their local congregation had a word from the Lord for this man. They said that he had not properly judged himself when taking the Lords supper.
1 Corinthians 27. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. 29. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
He and his wife went home and began to pray. They got before the Lord and repented and sought Him. Over there, they donít just say a quick prayer, they prayed all night. They did this for 2 nights. If you really want something bad enough you will do whatever it takes to get it. (Just like the paralytic man who was lowered through the roof, that sounds crazy to us, yet the Word said, Jesus saw their faith. They acted on what they believed to be true.)
Their account of what happened was that during a time of prayer in the middle of the night a bright light filled the room. This happened both nights. After the second night he said he knew God had healed him. He went back to the doctor to get examined and was found to be cancer free. There was absolutely no trace of cancer in his body. What an awesome God we serve! He is faithful to honor His Word. Yes, He forgives sin, and yes, He heals our bodies. They go hand in hand, the price has been paid for both, so why not enjoy them both?
Jesus knew that they were questioning whether He could forgive. That is almost 180 degrees from where we are today isnít it? He then asked them the question that is the main focus of this study, in vs. 9. "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, `Arise, take up your bed and walk'? 10. "But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins'' He said to the paralytic, 11. "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go your way to your house.''
Jesus wanted them to know that He had the authority to forgive sin, because He said; so that you may know that the son of man has power on Earth to forgive sins. He already knew that He had the authority to do this but He wanted them and us as well to see this truth in action. His way of showing them that He could forgive sins is to show the manifestation of physical healing, how interesting. Has Jesus changed even a little? If healing was proof of forgiveness of sin then, isnít it also just as true today. This physical manifestation of the goodness of God infuriated them. You would think they would have glorified God. Wow. Lord open our eyes that we may see Your absolute goodness!
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.
We see that death was the end result of sin. Man was cut off from the life of God and death and sickness entered into the world. Up until the point where Adam sinned there was no sickness. It came with the sin. At that point man lost his covering and anointing. You can see how they go together. It took a redeemer to set men free to live the life that God had called them to live. Jesus came to show us the way back to the kind of life that God had called us to live in the first place. How sad that the religious people could not conceive of such a life. It was so foreign to their way of thinking that they just nearly exploded in anger every time Jesus showed up. They hated Him and wanted to kill Him because of these kinds of things. He was endeavoring to manifest the life of God in a world that was sick and dying. We can never receive what we can't conceive.
Thank God that Jesus the second Adam wasnít deterred from His true path by these hypocrites, but walked as the son of man in victory every step of the way. He brought us back to our true roots and restored our covering that was lost to us from the time that Adam sinned. That was the plan that God had for us from the very beginning.
Romans 16:25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began 26. but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith
Jesus wasnít only sent to forgive sin, but to completely restore what was lost because of sin. Wow! Sin was what brought death and because the core problem of sin has been dealt with we can start to receive the benefits of that restoration in Christ. That includes a restoration of fellowship with God, physical healing, peace, joy, freedom from fear, the list goes on and on. Again I will say we can conceive these truths we will never receive them.
Throughout the Old Covenant we can see that forgiveness and healing are inseparable.
Psalms 103:2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
3. Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
If we can see this in the Old Covenant , how much more in the New Covenant? Thank God He does both, however we are living in a better covenant with even better promises.
Hebrews 8:6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
Jesus came to give and manifest the life of God, not to establish a religion.
John 10:10 "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
But He had to get that across to them. He asked such a simple question. Which is easier? They are both equally easy for God if we can rise up above our stagnant mindset to dare to believe, yet, the Scribes could not. You can tell that their refusal to acknowledge what God was trying to do in their midst grieved the Lord. Even so, He showed them Godís will in action, not for the purpose of humiliating them but to empower them to believe. He is good to us even when we wonít receive it. He needed them to break out of their dogmatic religious mindset in order to show them that the promises foretold by the prophets in the Old Covenant are coming to pass. He wants to bring us all to that place! He loves us and wants us to receive what He went to such great lengths to give us, yet we have apart to play as well.
Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. 10. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
We will all die physically someday if He doesnít return first, however spiritual death and all of its consequences are forever settled. Thank God.
Romans 6:22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We have been set free, we are free indeed. The question would be, why donít we act like it? Maybe because we donít know who we are and what weíve become. From the beginning when sin entered the world, the Earth came under a curse. Itís easy to look around and see that we are in kaos. We were brought down to the lowest possible denominator and we think this is normal. Jesus walked as a man, and showed us what the new normal is supposed to be.
1 Corinthians 3:3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?
If we are not mere men then what are we. We have been called to be so much more.
Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
17. and if children, then heirs heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21. because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
We are not the ones waiting for our redemption, that has already happened, the Earth is waiting for us. Read Romans 8:16-21 again and let that soak in. We have to understand who we are and what weíve been called to be. The Earth is groaning in anticipation, why? because we haven't awakened! The religious mindset has a hard time accepting this. It didnít like it then and it doesnít like it now. However the eyes of many are being opened in this later day. Godís children are starting to wake up. Thank you Lord! If we will begin to see ourselves as Godís Word declares, and not as mere men as the Apostle Paul says then God will have something to work with. This is not something we can do on our own, it takes a revelation of Godís Holy Spirit. He will never force this on us just as Jesus didnít force anything on the Scribes and Pharisees, but showed them by example and demonstrated the awesome goodness of God. He is good you know?
Iíll be the first to say I donít have all the answers but thank God Iím seeing more and more all the time. He will show Himself faithful if we will just give Him the chance! My prayer is thisÖ Ephesians 1:18. the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19. and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20. which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
21. far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23. which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
As we grow in grace and understanding we will begin to walk in the fullness of Him.
Thank you Lord for showing us the truth!
Psalms 103:1 Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
3. Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
4. Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5. Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
So the question we all must answer is, which is easier? I would encourage you if you have not already to be open to all that God has already purchased for you, and receive everything the Holy Spirit will show you. He is faithful and He will always honor His Word. Amen.
If you donít know that you are a child of God and want to know for sure, then take the first step, which is to believe on Him. Make the decision, and earnestly pray the prayer that will forever change your life.
Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. Your word says, "Öand the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." (Jn.6:37),
So I know You wonít cast me out, but You take me in, And I thank you for it. You said in your Word, "whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'' (Ro. 10:13).
I am calling on Your name, So I know You have saved me now, You also said, "Öthat if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation." (Ro.10:9,10).
I believe in my heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe He was raised from the dead for my justification. And I confess Him now as my Lord, Because Your Word says, "Ö with the heart one believes to righteousnessÖ" and I do believe with my heart, I have now become the righteousness of God in Christ. (2 Cor. 5:21),
And I am saved! Thank You, Lord!
I can now truthfully say, I see myself as a born again child of God!
Glory to God!!!! Amen.