Q. I have a question on Mark 2:1-12. I always think that by simple reading of what has been happening, Jesus’ purpose in asking the question in Mark 2:9 was to demonstrate that it would be easier to say ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’ than ‘Your sins are forgiven’; yet He chose to say the more difficult statement of ‘Your sins are forgiven’ (NIV) that would invite criticism of blasphemy. However, recent reading of lots of commentaries say the opposite, that it is easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ because it would not be possible to judge whether a person’s sin was really forgiven than saying ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’ which would prove Jesus Himself a false prophet if this saying was not immediately materialized. But right after this, Jesus also said ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’, which confuses me further if this question is a more difficult one. What had Jesus in mind when asking the question in Mark 2:9? Is it just a rhetoric question that He did not expect an answer? So, which is easier then, or that it doesn’t matter if it is a rhetoric question?
A. To say something is one thing, to back up what you say is true is another. If Jesus were to simply say, “Son, your sins are forgiven”, it can’t be verified as it is invisible. However, if Jesus said, “Arise, take up your pallet, and walk”, He is putting His reputation on the line. If the man did not walk, He would be proven a false healer/prophet. If the man did walk, it does not necessarily prove His deity, since God’s servants can heal by God’s power too. But by saying both and healing the man, He is demonstrating that He has the power to do both, including forgiving sins which is God’s prerogative.
Secondly, the friends’, the scribes, and the people all perceived the paralytics’ need to be healing. Jesus’ is the only one who saw his real need is forgiveness. What good is it to have both feet whole but sins unforgiven and end up in hell?
* Mk 9:43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,
* Mk 9:45 If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell,
So Jesus addressed the real need first, but also the perceived need to prove that His forgiveness is real by healing the man. So in this case I think the commentators are correct. I don’t think it’s a rhetorical question.