Say to the Israelites: ‘If anyone curses his God, he will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.
If, like me, you enjoy listening to Terry Wogan in the morning whilst you’re getting ready for the day, you will surely have been saddened by his news last week that he is to retire from the Breakfast Show. Chris Evans will do a good job when he takes over, and I’m already looking forward to Terry’s weekend show, but mornings will not be the same. Some years ago, though, people were saying that about evenings. Prior to rejoining Radio 2, Terry used to present a chat show on BBC 1. One of his most famous guests on the show was David Icke. In 1991, on Wogan, as the show was called, David Icke announced to the world that he was the son of God. His claim was met with laughter by the studio audience, and he has been ridiculed ever since.
Had David Icke made this comment in Old Testament times, he would not have been able to repeat his claim. He would have been taken outside the camp and stoned to death; this is the punishment that God tells Moses he must impose in our passage today.
The reason for highlighting this passage today is to show what the consequences of Jesus’ actions in Mark 2, the focus of our current article, could be. By claiming that he had the right to forgive sins, he was blaspheming, since in the eyes of the Pharisees, only God has the right to forgive sins. Jesus is here laying claim to his divinity; he is showing that he is God. This is quite some claim, and clearly has greatly angered the leaders of the Jews.
But what if Jesus is speaking the truth? What if he does have the right to forgive sins? What if he is the Son of God? Where does that leave the Pharisees? Where does that leave us?