Scripture: Luke 5:12-26
Key verse: Luke 5:23 “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’?”
Reflection: Some men carried a paralyzed friend to see Jesus and when they arrived where he was staying; the house was too full to enter. They went on the roof, cut a hole, and lowered the man down on his mat to Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith he told the man that his sins were forgiven. The religious leaders in the group were offended. To offer forgiveness was blasphemy! Only God can forgive, so if this Jesus forgives sins he must be speaking on God’s behalf or equating himself with God.
Jesus knew the questions the religious leaders were asking so he asked the question above. Which is easier, to say “your sins are forgiven” or to say “stand up and walk”? That’s an impossible question to answer. To forgive sins is spiritually powerful and might be blasphemy. But to say “stand up and walk” is risky because the person might not be able to get up and walk.
Every Sunday in worship, we pray together a prayer of confession and a pastor proclaims the good news of God’s forgiveness. For me it’s the most powerful moment in the worship service. I’m afraid that many worshipers think of this as humdrum and yawn through the moment. But they would be so impressed if a paralyzed person stood up and walked away from our worship service! Jesus is reminding us that forgiveness is the greater message. Forgiveness is at the heart of the good news and brings a healing that is more powerful than any physical healing. When you hear words of forgiveness in worship this Sunday, listen carefully and let those words into your heart. Forgiveness is the most dangerous, risky, gracious, wonderful news at the core of the gospel.
Prayer: O God, I confess that sometimes I am enamored with the wrong things, the showy things, and not the hidden powerful good news. Your forgiveness is the best gift possible and the greatest news ever. When I hear words of your forgiveness, let those words transform my heart. Through Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].