And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 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. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” 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’? 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 2:1-12)
Both the Old and New Testaments of Holy Scripture record many miracles of God. These mighty acts weren’t done for the purpose of having people say “Wow!”—and then, in turn, go on living as before. In many cases, people misinterpreted the miraculous signs. Knowing that very well, Jesus avoided the “wow” crowds.
We don’t know what the biblical equivalent was for the word “wow”—but several words used make us think that people might have said it. In many cases after the miracles or sayings of Jesus, we read that people were amazed or astonished or full of wonder or marveled.
That’s the way it was in this case. After Jesus had both forgiven and healed the paralyzed man, the people were amazed and glorified God, saying: “We never saw anything like this!”
Then as now, the forgiveness of sins is the all-important thing. Did people get the point? If so, did they retain it? How about people today? How about you? How’s your “wow” doing?
During a review of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism in an Adult Bible Instruction Class some years ago, we re-read the explanation of the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed:
“I believe that Jesus Christ…has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood, and with His innocent suffering and death, that I should be His own, and live under Him….”
After we reviewed this, one woman blurted out: “Wow! I just can’t believe it!” We all knew the lady was a believer and we realized that the “wow!” was a marvelous declaration. It led us right into Dr. Luther’s explanation of the Third Article:
“I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him, but the Holy Ghost has called me by the gospel, enlightened me…sanctified…and kept me in the true faith….”
What a delight it was to that woman and to the rest of us—to have such Christian joy and peace, such faith, comfort, and hope.
And to think that these gifts come to us by God’s pure grace now through the Means of Grace, the gospel in Word and Sacraments. And there is more to come in heaven!
We all felt “Wow!” It was one of those rare moments.
By the Spirit of God this amazement and astonishment continues throughout our lives in worship, song, prayer, service, giving, and witnessing. That’s the whole point and purpose of Jesus’ miracles here and elsewhere in the Bible.
And this is an eternal “Wow!”—not just a temporal one! It’s amazing.