Many of us are fine with Jesus as the great teacher or advocate of social justice. It’s the Jesus who claims to be the Lord and Master of the Universe that we have difficulties accepting.
There’s a particular story that Mark records in his gospel where Jesus says something and then does something that dramatically reveals how much everyone was underestimating his ability and authority. In this story, some friends bring their disabled friend to Jesus hoping that he would heal him. But rather than physically healing the man, Jesus declares that the disabled man’s sins have been forgiven. This shocks and somewhat confuses everyone.
Picking up the story from there, Mark writes:
And so Jesus said to them, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic — “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all.”
The religious leaders are really bothered by what Jesus is claiming when he declares to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven.” But Jesus goes on to point out that the visible miracle of actually healing this man would certainly appear to be more difficult than the invisible miracle of claiming to forgive him of his sins. And so, as a testimony to his authority to do the invisible miracle, Jesus performs the visible miracle of healing the man physically.
This healing was obviously an intentional teaching moment in the ministry of Jesus. For the person who comes to Jesus in faith looking for relief and getting redemption in the process, Jesus’ message is clear — “You need much more from me than you think you need.” And for the religious person among the crowd who simply admires Jesus’ teaching, compassion and way of life, Jesus’ message is clear — “I am much more than you think I am."