When the paralytic was lowered down from the roof by the four men, Jesus, moved by their faith, responded as such: “Son, your sins are forgiven.” We then read:
Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” | Mark 2:6-7
The scribes questioned the authority of Jesus Christ – not verbally, but in their hearts. They weren’t vocal about their doubts. They didn’t cause a scene. They silently, secretly questioned. And it wasn’t just one scribe, mind you. It was more than one. Several, maybe. There are two things we need to learn from this, one to keep in mind as we proceed:
- LEARN: Doubt is doubt, regardless of whether you verbalize it or not.
- LEARN: We’re never, ever the only one struggling with doubt or any sin. This is a human condition, a disease that plagues us as a race.
- NOTE: Each of these scribes, however many, were all doubting the same thing… in their hearts. None of them had verbalized anything to the other – or to anyone else, for that matter.
There’s a unique relationship between God and the hearts of the ones He has created.
...For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. | 1 Samuel 16:7b
He sees it all as if it were written upon the very flesh that beats beneath our ribs. Not a thing is hidden from Him. Not a sin, not a doubt, not a fear.
As these scribes sat secretly questioning His authority within their hearts, Jesus, “perceiving in His spirit that they thus questioned within themselves,” asks a simple question:
“Why do you question these things in your hearts?” | Mark 2:8b
Not one of them had opened their mouths, but each of them was harboring secret doubt in their hearts. That’s the thing though – it wasn’t a secret. Not to Christ. They were successful in hiding their doubt from one another and from those around them, but they could not hide it from the Lord. How often do we harbor such doubt in our own hearts? How is it that we still don’t realize we aren’t fooling God? Harboring doubt in our hearts builds walls between us and the Lord. In doing so, we only succeed in closing ourselves off from God and losing sight of Him.
Consider the Lord’s response to the questioning He perceived in the scribes’ hearts. It is interesting to note that Jesus did not condemn these men for doubting. He responded gently, sincerely, with a desire for them to realize that He IS who He says He is: the One who has all authority and the One who longs to hear all that burdens the hearts of His children.
Doubt is natural. It happens. But what we do with that doubt is what matters. Imagine if we took these doubts to the Lord. Imagine if we didn’t try to hide these things from Him, and instead, chose to talk with Him about them. Imagine if we asked Him to help us overcome that doubt, to give us clarity to see Truth. What would happen then? He wouldn’t condemn us! He would rejoice in seeing us boldly come before the throne of grace to talk with Him as our dear friend!
Harboring doubt is pointless and only serves to obstruct the intimacy we enjoy with Christ. He already knows what we’re thinking anyways. Why not acknowledge that He knows, rest in knowing that He knows, and ask for His power and clarity? Doubt is natural. And overcoming doubt is necessary for growth. But for the “overcoming” to be real and lasting, it must be done in and through Him.
Let’s change our perspective. Let’s stop viewing doubt as something to be ashamed of and start viewing it as an opportunity for the Lord to increase our faith. After all, that’s all we’ve ever wanted anyways.
Father, forgive me for my doubt. Forgive me for thinking I can hide things from You, for thinking I need to hide things from You. Thank You that You know me fully – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and love me anyways. Thank You that You already know everything even before I open my mouth to speak. Thank You that You don’t condemn me, but that You desire for me to unload my burdens, my doubts, my fears on You. Thank You that You carry my burdens just as You carried my cross. When doubt arises and I am tempted to secretly question You, remind me that doing so will only build a wall between us. Remind me that You love me still. Remind me that I need Your help to see, to understand, to overcome doubt. Help me to boldly approach the throne of grace and open up to You, my Friend. Use these opportunities to grow me, God. Increase my faith. I ask all these things in the precious name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
- What am I questioning within my heart? What life situation(s) has caused me to question? What is the root of the problem?
- What is my response to Christ as He asks of me: Why do you question within your heart? What is preventing me from taking my questions and doubts to Him?
- Connect the dots: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Mark 2:4-8. For me personally, how do these 4 verses of Mark 2 teach, admonish, correct, and train me in righteousness? How will my reading and understanding of this account in history complete me as a child of God and equip me for every good work?