A few weeks ago, I had a moment with my husband where, for a moment, I knew what he was thinking. It happens when people know each other very well, and if you’ve spent a lot of time together. You start to recognize situations, or you remember a previous conversation or circumstance, and sometimes, you just know what the other person is thinking as a situation occurs.
In a second, God drew my attention to Himself.
There are a few passages in the Bible when Jesus answered the scribes and Pharisees’ thoughts without them having to say a word. I’ll highlight a few for you:
“But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’ ” – Matthew 9:4 (ESV)
“When Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered them, ‘Why do you question in your hearts?’ ” – Luke 5:22 (ESV)
I had always thought that Jesus knew their thoughts because He is God, simply because He is all-knowing and He knew all their darkness and evil motives. But, in that moment, I realized something incredibly beautiful.
Jesus knew their thoughts because these individual persons were indescribably loved by Him. He knew these people as individuals, loving their personality traits and quirks and knowing their concerns. In spite of their attitude towards Him, Jesus had an immensely deep love for these persons, just as He loves every human He ever created (again, in spite of what they do / don’t do).
He knew their thoughts, because He knew them.
Suddenly, I don’t read these passages of Scripture with a smug attitude, as if Jesus answered their thoughts out of pride or to show Himself off to them*. Instead, I read these with a sense of Jesus’ deep compassion and love, and I imagine Him with care asking them these questions so that they can realize how unreasonable they were being. (Refer to the passages in context at the bottom of this post.) He was helping them out of love, guiding them to a better understanding of what God’s Law was really about.
I thank God for the compassionate love He has for each of us. I am grateful that Jesus knows and loves me and all about me, in spite of my flaws and failures, and that He will take the time to address my thoughts so that I can realize my need for (more of) Him.
May you also realize His immeasurable love for you today. May you meditate on the fact that God loves you as you are, He delights in you because of who He made you to be, graciously forgiving your mistakes, knowing all about you more intimately than anyone ever can.
Praise be to God!
* Notice how, in both passages below, Jesus was not drawing attention to Himself, but God was glorified through His miracles. Although Jesus is part of the God-head, it was not clear to the scribes and Pharisees at this point in time (perhaps some realized it later).
I’d love to hear if you find some more passages where Jesus knew their thoughts!
1 And He entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into His own city. 2 And, behold, they brought to Him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” 3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, ‘This man blasphemeth.’ 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 5 For whether is easier, to say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee”; or to say, “Arise, and walk?” 6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins,” (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) “Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.” 7 And he arose, and departed to his house. 8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
17 And it came to pass on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. 18 And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before Him. 19 And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. 20 And when He saw their faith, He said unto him, “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.” 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” 22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answering said unto them, “What reason ye in your hearts? 23 Whether is easier, to say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee”; or to say, “Rise up and walk?” 24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins,” (He said unto the sick of the palsy,) “I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.” 25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things to day.”
36 And one of the Pharisees desired Him that He would eat with him. And He went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. 37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38 And stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden Him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, ‘This man, if He were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him: for she is a sinner.’ 40 And Jesus answering said unto him, “Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee.” And he saith, “Master, say on.” 41 “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.” And He said unto him, “Thou hast rightly judged.” 44 And He turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, “Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest Me no water for My feet: but she hath washed My feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45 Thou gavest Me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed My feet with ointment. 47 Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” 48 And He said unto her, “Thy sins are forgiven.” 49 And they that sat at meat with Him began to say within themselves, ‘Who is this that forgiveth sins also?‘ 50 And He said to the woman, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”