Matthew 9:3-6 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”
This is an interesting and telling comment Jesus makes to the ‘teachers of the law’ here. It seems his ‘knowing their thoughts’ was much more than just being aware of what they were muttering under their breath. When he says to them, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?”, he is implying that, deep down in their heart of hearts they really had to come to the conclusion that their Promised Messiah was standing there among them! In effect, it was quite wrong (‘evil’) for them not to acknowledge his true identity.
The evidence they already had, from his teaching and miraculous works, was overwhelming and irrefutable. For them to persist in refusing to believe what was quite obvious was a deliberate act of arrogance and defiance – it was ‘evil’. It went against what should have been crystal clear to their God-given conscience.
And reflecting on this makes me realise that this ‘slow learner’ [me] often becomes aware – or, rather, is suddenly made aware, of a sin that should have been obvious for a long time before. Under the Mosaic Law, God’s people brought sacrifices to cover unintentional sins of which they might not have been aware at the time. I am ever so grateful that, by God’s grace, I have been led to the foot of the cross where I can know that I have a Saviour who on that cross has borne the punishment for all my sins – past, present and future, known and unknown, and even the ones that I know in my heart of hearts are there but I keep trying to explain away (justify) or just ignore.
And, sadly, the other thing that comes to mind as I reflect on Jesus’ comment to the ‘teachers of the law’ is that on the Day of Judgement, when the secrets of all our hearts are revealed, there will be many who will realise – too late – that they have been suppressing the truth of the Gospel instead of responding to it in repentance-and-faith. I think of Jesus’ words to the Pharisee, Saul, on the Road to Damascus, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads [pangs of conscience].” (Acts 26:14). I think of the words of the converted Saul, now ‘Paul’: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain, because God has made it plain to them” (Romans 1:18-20). This is what it will be like on the Day of Judgement!
– Bruce Christian