Jesus Heals a Man
(Mark 2.1-12; Luke 5.17-26)
1Jesus got into a boat and crossed back over to the town where he lived. 2Some people soon brought to him a man lying on a mat because he could not walk. When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the man, “My friend, don't worry! Your sins are forgiven.”
3Some teachers of the Law of Moses said to themselves, “Jesus must think he is God!”
4But Jesus knew what was in their minds, and he said, “Why are you thinking such evil things? 5Is it easier for me to tell this man his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and walk? 6But I will show you that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.” So Jesus said to the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home.” 7The man got up and went home. 8When the crowds saw this, they were afraid and praised God for giving such authority to people.
This passage reflects a crucial, game-changing moment in Jesus’ ministry. He publically forgives the sins of a crippled man, then heals his physical condition as well. The man is told to pick up his mat and go home.
By declaring his right and ability to forgive sins, Jesus equated himself with God. He told us he was God with us. He forgave – and showed us that forgiveness is possible. It is ours for the receiving.
And that is the real miracle.
As a journalist who is a Christian, I have the privilege of interviewing all kinds of people who have done all kinds of things. Kat, a prostituted woman who had left the streets behind, remains strongly in my mind. She had been involved in all kinds of awfulness for a very long time, yet she stood free in her forgiveness. She asked for it. She received it. It freed her.
The exact same is true of all of the more ordinary sins of yelling at children, lying, cheating, envying, slandering, gossiping, breaking vows and all the other millions of ways we fall apart as broken people in a broken world.
We sin. He forgives. We are free. He is God.
That is the miracle that plays out all the time, everywhere. We are not crippled by our shame. Our sins have been forgiven. We can pick up our mat and walk home.
Thank you God that you forgive. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for your mercy. Make me aware of my sin, that I can confess it and taste again the freedom you offer. Show me the way home. Amen.