Jesus Forgives Sins
Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven."
It's easy for us to read the story of Jesus forgiving and healing the paralyzed man without being unsettled or even surprised. After all, most of us count on Jesus to forgive us. That's why he died on the cross.
But if we put ourselves back into the shoes of the people who witnessed this event, we can begin to grasp the significance, even the scandal, of Jesus' behavior. Jews in the time of Jesus understood that divine forgiveness came through the mediation of temple sacrifices. The temple in Jerusalem was the heart of their faith and practice. But if Jesus could forgive sins without the temple, this implied that it was not necessary. Moreover, Jesus' contemporaries believed, on the solid basis of the Old Testament, that only God could forgive sins. If Jesus was able to forgive, what did this tell them about God? And about Jesus? No wonder Jesus' critics were upset while the crowd was amazed and praised God. Jesus was doing unprecedented and astounding things.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you tend to take the forgiveness you have through Christ for granted? Why? Have you taken time recently to reflect upon the wonder of God's forgiveness? Do you regularly confess your sins so that you might enjoy the freedom of forgiveness?
PRAYER: Gracious Lord, I must confess that I can read this story without having my pulse increase one beat. Sure, you forgave the paralyzed man. That's what you do. Ho-hum!
Forgive me, Lord, for my nonchalance. Forgive me for taking for granted that which is so marvelous and that which cost you your very life. May I treasure your forgiveness. May I marvel at your grace afresh.
All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, because you have become our temple, the one through whom our sins are forgiven. All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, because you are so much more than a man. You are God come in the flesh for us and our salvation. Alleluia! Amen.