Monday, May 6, 2019

Which is easier? Which is Greater. Use the latter to answer the former...

We return to our journey of faith.  It’s not that we ever left, but we continue our topical exploration of faith.  Today we come to a question that we might have differing opinions on what the right answer is.  What question?

Your sins are forgiven.
Get up and walk.

How did we get to this question in an exploration of faith?  Some men brought a paralytic to Jesus.  They brought him on a mat and got him to where Jesus was.  In Mark chapter 2 and Luke chapter 5, we see similar accounts of what is perhaps the same event.  Perhaps not..

When your friends dig a hole in the roof to get you to Jesus, then you have some real friends. In Matthew’s account, there is no Hole in the Roof Gang noted, but some men get this paralytic to Jesus nonetheless.

What does Jesus see?  Faith.  He sees faith.  He tells the man on the mat that his sins are forgiven.

Actually, he says, take courage son, your sins are forgiven.  Most people slide right over the word son.  It’s teknon in the Greek.  A teknon is a child of either gender but more importantly, it is someone who relies wholly—completely—upon the Lord.  It is a child that lives in willing submission to and dependence upon God.

When we think about coming to Jesus as a child, we are talking great faith.  We are talking about faith so great that transformation begins to take place.  We become transformed the image and likeness of Jesus.  Made in God’s image already, we start to realize what that means and what it looks like through faith.

The word son is a term of endearment and the mark of a teachable spirit.  For the paralytic and his friends, this was not stop number 4 out of 10 wishing for the best somewhere along the way.  These men came to Jesus in faith so thick that we should be envious.

We might just covet such faith.  Jesus saw the faith and said, “Your sins are forgiven.”

In a moment, we get to look into the thoughts of the Teachers of the Law, but I want to speculate as to the thoughts of the paralytic and his delivery crew.

What?  Sins forgiven?  What?  If that’s what we wanted, we would have pitched in for an animal to sacrifice and not had to haul his sorry butt down here.  I’m sure it wouldn’t be too much.  There is a sliding scale, you know. 
Again, I am just speculating…

Jesus wasn’t wrapped up in the paralytic’s reaction or his thoughts.  He saw his faith.  We don’t’ have anything recorded as to what the paralytic was thinking, but Jesus did know what the religious leaders were thinking. 
They were thinking, this is blasphemy. 

This is so wrong on so many levels.  To do this he would have to be God and this is a man who lives in Capernaum.

There are procedures to be followed from the Law of Moses.  Whether it’s for the Day of Atonement or just some stuff that came up and needs to be taken care of before then, there are rules.

And while we only find these words stated succinctly in the New Testament, it was surely widely known that there is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood. He can’t do this without a sacrifice.

This Jesus was not playing by the rules.

Jesus confronted the Teachers of the Law asking, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts?”  Then he confronted them with the question at the center of today’s message.

Which is easier, to say “your sins are forgiven” or to say “get up and walk?”

Your sins are forgiven.
Get up and walk.

So which is easier?

For the religious leaders of the day, neither was easy.  One was prohibited for them.  The other had a procedure to be followed.  For the religious leaders, it was easier to say “your sins are forgiven” after the sacrifice had been made.

The priests did not forgive sins.  They followed the procedures and directives given to them in what we call the Law of Moses.  They had no authority on their own.  They followed the rules.

If they said, “get up and walk” and it didn’t work, there was always fault to be found in the person seeking healing or perhaps the sacrifice or offering.  There was always a readymade excuse.

For Jesus, both were possible but the command to get up and walk was much easier.  Remember, that the man that the religious leaders are confronting was there at the beginning of the universe.  Healing had to be a piece of cake compared to the creation, but there is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood.  In forgiving this man’s sins, he must go to the cross.

Jesus asked, which is easier.   I am going to help you answer this question yourself by asking which is greater?

Your sins are forgiven.
Get up and walk.

While we invest a lot of time praying for healing; the atoning sacrifice that we know in the blood of Jesus goes beyond the healing of any physical ailment.  We all want physical healing for ourselves and others, but the forgiveness of sins that we know—being put in good standing with God—goes far beyond our broken bodies, cancer, heart disease, or any physical infirmity.

Jesus turned his attention back to the paralytic, but is still talking to the Teachers of the Law as he says “So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins upon the earth,”

“Get up, take your mat, and go home.”

The paralytic stood, took his mat, and went home. 

We don’t know what the Teachers of the Law did, but the crowd was amazed at the authority of this man named Jesus.  They might not have known he was the Messiah.  They might not have caught on the term Son of Man, but they knew what they witnessed was from God.

The people responded by praising God.  They praised God.

As we face our daily challenges, which do we think is easier?  Which is greater?

Your sins are forgiven.
Get up and walk.

I hope that you will have eyes to see that the forgiveness of sins is the greatest gift that we will ever know.  In the blood of Jesus we know the immeasurable love of God. 

From time to time you hear me challenge us to be transformational in our ministry.  As opposed to what?

Being transactional.  Fix this, give me this, help with this, and so many other things that seem so important at the moment that sometimes get in the way of that which is eternally important.

I’m will tell you that we help people more and more each year with transactional things—temporary things, but never at the expense of that which is transformational and eternal.

Which is easier?  To help with the temporary and transactional things. 

Which takes more to accomplish?  The forgiveness of sins, for it only comes with the shedding of blood.  That blood has been shed once and for all.

Which his greater?  The forgiveness of sins, not because of our offering but because of God’s own sacrifice for us.

Let’s put it this way.  Which is easier, to dead lift 300 pounds or 3 tons?

Some might be thinking that they can press 300 pounds.  It has to be easier.  I don’t know if anyone can lift 3 tons.  That’s more difficult if it is even possible.  It’s also greater.

A paralytic and his buddies didn’t know much theology, but they had some real faith.  They probably missed the fact forgiving sins was so much greater than healing a broken body. 

The forgiveness of sins, heals an eternal relationship.

By the blood of Jesus our brokenness is healed.  Our broken relationship with God is healed.  Have Faith that the condition that needed immediate care has been taken care of.  We are healed in the forgiveness of our sins.

When you believe that, when you are fully convinced of that in your own mind, when we realize that by his blood we are healed, when all those things are reality for you, say Hallelujah.

When your faith lets you know that by the blood of Jesus you are healed, cry out Praise the Lord.

When you know that every bit of pain and suffering and illness that we experience in this life will be nothing next to the glory that we know in Christ Jesus, say Amen.

Jesus asked the men who knew the rules but were blind to the mercy of God, which is easer?  I pray that you see which is greater.

In so doing, you have prepared yourself to respond to the incredible love of God by being a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Your faith has prepared you.  You are a teachable spirit.  You are ready to walk in the ways of the Lord.


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