"Take heart, My son, your sins are forgiven."
Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said,
“I AM the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your Offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven.”
Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true Righteousness and Holiness.
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the Truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
Getting into a boat [Jesus] crossed over and came to His own city. And behold, some people brought to Him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Take heart, My son; your sins are forgiven.”
And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This Man is blaspheming.”
But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —He then said to the paralytic— “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home.
When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, Who had given such authority to men.
*Transcript was edited for readability.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Sermon text: St. Matthew, the 9th chapter.
But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said,
“Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —He then said to the paralytic— “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home.
When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, Who had given such authority to men.
In Genesis Chapter 28: 10-17, Jacob doesn't open heaven when he's sleeping there nor does he command the holy angels to come down or tell them to go back up again. Jacob doesn't make God pledge that he will be with him always because it's not his to do. It's the father in Heaven's to open to man his place, to send his angels and all the better still to send His only begotten Son that he himself would come down and be with us. Especially, in this way, according to the forgiveness of sins. Remarkably so, or perhaps shockingly so, he says to the paralytic, my son your sins are forgiven. In the same way, remarkably and perhaps shockingly so, He encounters each of you today and says my son, my daughter, your sins are forgiven.
Now I don't know if you've gotten into this way of thinking, I think you probably have if you have children in school, if you know anyone in counseling, if you've studied any bit of psychology, or even just have encountered a Doctor these days. If so, chances are you're hearing more and more about a few different things these days. Things like, you've just got to learn to love yourself. Or, you really need to practice more self-love. Perhaps you've heard some of this kind of thinking, like if you just learn to be in touch with who you are and appreciate yourself, well, then, things will get better between your ears and in your life. But even more than that you've got to learn to forgive yourself. This, followed up with some tips so that you can go on with living and go on with your day. There's a whole line of thinking like this, that you have to get in touch with your own heart—out of which God tells us comes nothing but sin— and you just have to learn to forgive yourself.
Well, I'm going to offer that this is not Christian thinking. It's not matching up with Jesus forgiving the sins of the paralytic. Even still, quite frankly, it's impossible and not yours to do. It’s not yours to love yourself or to forgive yourself. And so, at least in some respects if this is your endeavor, all turned in on yourself, you're not ever going to get anywhere. You're going to keep going back to those counselors who help you try to get somewhere but you're never going to get anywhere. Furthermore, this kind of thought leads us away from an open heaven and causes us to live depressed and terrible lives, where we do not know the love of others for us, especially the love of God in Christ Jesus. We fail to recognize that all forgiveness has been won and paid for on the cross of Jesus. That ours now is an open heaven, not because of what we do, think, or say, but that ours is an open heaven so that not only the Angels can come and go above us but that the Son of God can abide with us always because he forgives us our sins.
Have you ever had someone steal your glory? Like you've put in hours and hours of work and there was a schmuck that came around and worked for like seven minutes. Then somebody walked in and said what a glorious project and standing there the schmuck beamed with pride and stole all your glory.
It's not ours to steal, the glory of Christ that is, by forgiving ourselves.
Did we die on the cross?
Did we pour out our precious blood?
Did we know the tomb and the resurrection of the dead?
The glory of the forgiveness of sins belongs to Jesus!
That's why we sing the Te Deum, that He's paid for our death. That He's rescued us from the devil. That He has seen us, loved us, and has forgiven us all our sins. When the crowds saw what He had done they glorified God who had given such authority to men.
Jesus forgives us.
Jesus sees us.
Jesus loves us.
Jesus is outside of us and he evaluates us and he thinks highly of us.
If you're trying to forgive yourself, well you're the one that's got yourself into that predicament. How will this work? You just won't be able to judge yourself well. You just won't be able to pay the price for sins that demanded the very death of the Son of God. It can't be done!
Thanks be to God that it has been done, that heaven has opened and that Jesus isn't found out of our reach above. But in the irony of ironies here He is even below the men who carried the man on a mat, the paralytic and bring him to the Christ.
Now perhaps those guys too could have offered their bud this advice; you've just got to learn to love yourself, pal. And there as he was at home paralyzed and unable to do much, they could have coached him on how he was a fine guy and how he had different good qualities. And well, at least his mother thought well of him and any number of other things. But that he ought to learn to love himself.
But she won't find this kind of thing in the Holy Scriptures, that the encouragement of the Holy Spirit to you is that you ought to learn to love yourself more. No, these men also are good examples and encouragement to us in the Christian faith of what is good and pleasing to our God. These men don't love themselves, they love their friend and they take up his costs. These men don't trust in their own ability to counsel him but they trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who sees their great faith and then intervenes for them and for their friend who is in great need, paralyzed, by answering him, my son your sins are forgiven.
Christians don't look at themselves. Christians look at their Christ. They trust in Him for the forgiveness of sins. Christians don't love themselves they love others and they endeavor to serve their name.
Now, if you've got a cloud over your head and you're having a poor-me pity party, like I do about three to four different times a week, it's probably because you're worrying too much about yourself. You ought to simply repent of always worrying about yourself. You might view these Christian examples, these men that brought their friend to Jesus, and you ought to think how can I trust my Christ. How can I, in my place and in my position today, trust my Christ and take up the cross that he has given me in the place that he has put me, and who can I love.
And so those men got up that day and by the Holy Spirit they didn't love themselves more, but they loved their friend. They did well and they brought him to Jesus as their trust was in Christ to do all the things that they themselves could not do.
So, Jesus finds him. Jesus is found down here with us grounded on the earth. If you want to be grounded stand by the Lord Jesus Christ. They problem solve, they climb up on the roof, they opened the roof, they lower their friend, they do all this because they will find help in this one, the Son of God in the flesh.
The enemies of Christ are standing along, or the Pharisees, Mark especially has them grumbling this, this man blasphemes, who can forgive sins but God alone. Well, we ought to consider that phrase, who can forgive sins but God alone. They knew well that the forgiveness of sins requires a price. The forgiveness of sins requires a great price. It needs to be paid for by God himself. So the Pharisees knew that. The temple had taught them that much. That bloodshed was required to forgive sins. That sins are not a little thing. But rather reconciliation between God in heaven and sinners on earth is needed for sins to be forgiven. There's a price involved and they knew they couldn't pay it. They didn't think that Jesus could pay it and we should know of course that we and our works and our actions are mental exercises and our physical endeavors also cannot pay for sins. So in the Gospel of Mark, they ask, who can forgive sins but God alone, this man blasphemes.
Now maybe the children don't know what blaspheme means, which is to put yourself in the place of God, to act like God. They said Jesus was acting like God and that he wasn't God. But of course, they were wrong. That's one of the charges that puts Jesus on the cross. Furthermore, blasphemy, you've heard it yourself the high priest says, what more do we need to hear, this guy is acting as though he is God. Both Pharisees, it's better still, all glory be to the Father in heaven. He has sent his son and he truly is God in flesh and he'll give you absolutely what you need whether you know it or not.
Reconciliation to the Father in heaven. The forgiveness of sins. Take courage this day your sins are forgiven. But if you won't accept that, Jesus will offer proof, says what is easier to say your sins are forgiven or to say rise and walk. And so, of course, He says to that young man that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive, rise take your bed and go home.
Jesus offers them proof that He's the son of God. That His is the authority and that His is the place, not theirs. That His is the authority, that His is is the place, not yours, not mine, that is to forgive and rescue sinners from their sins.
If you don't like that Jesus has forgiven this young man's sins, well, take it up with Jesus. If you don't like that Jesus has declared over the whole world that He has paid for their sin and death and blessed them with the absolution and his resurrection, well, then take it up with Jesus. And if you don't think that your baptism this day avails to apply the death and resurrection to you, that you even now can live, and do live, the new life, well then take it up with Jesus because he has the authority to forgive sins. Whether you find yourself forgivable or not, or whether the Pharisees think it's his place to forgive or not, the Son of God has come below to redeem and to forgive poor sinners such as you and me.
His actions prove as much. He's on the cross praying, Father, forgive them they know not what they do. He's rising from the dead as the great proof that he forgives all the sinners all of their sins. He's commissioning his apostles giving this authority to men with his resurrection to go into all the world and to slam heaven shut to those who refused to repent and to open heaven wide and to forgive those sinners who are repentant. It's His to do, thanks be to God it's not ours to figure out.
So that man on a mat whose head must have been spinning through the whole exercise, from the morning where he received the love of his friends to the end of the day when he walked himself home, had much to ponder in his Christian life. Here are these guys in a crowded room fighting with the Son of God over his very body as his sins had just been forgiven and as the teacher who'd been healing all the day said to him, take courage, and lo and behold the prayer that he had so long prayed in the hope that he had so long hoped was given also to him from the very the savior of the world; rise, pick up your bed and go home.
So he went home and he must have talked to people, yesterday you were paralyzed today you're not. And he surely had a story to tell how his friends loved him but all the more how the son of God in human flesh loved him and said this thing to him, I forgive you all your sins. And then He healed me and he sent me home. So here he was walking around, a bright light in the world speaking more presumably about the forgiveness of sins than the healing of a body that he knew.
So here we are above all other things not to glorify ourselves because we love ourselves, the world does that. Not to take any glory away from Jesus because he has redeemed us from all sin. Here we are to be sinners who are forgiven and then sent home bright lights in the world to carry in our very bodies what Jesus has won for us with his death and resurrection; the forgiveness of sins. To be known like our Father has been known and as we pray so that we would reflect the father who has forgiven us as we forgive others their sins. Heaven opens up every time sins are forgiven and this Authority has been given to man in the body of Christ and in the Church of God. Placed into the hands of pastors but also Christian fathers and mothers and children that Jesus can be given and shared in our very lives so that the world would not continue to grope around in darkness trying to solve their own problems. But that they would see in you the love of God for their neighbor and that they would hear from you to the very words of Jesus speaking the forgiveness of sins
What a great and honorable thing that should cause us to fear and give glory to the Father in heaven who has done this great thing. For us, the Angels descend and all the better the Son of God descends to fight for you to forgive you and through you to forgive the world where you are found. May He bless you in this loving endeavor.
HYMN OF THE DAY:
WHEN IN THE HOUR OF DEEPEST NEED – LSB 615
A reading of the Psalms reveals to the saints that they will suffer in this life. Often believers think they are in trials all by themselves. This is not so for the Lord hears and attends the prayers of the faithful (Psalm 102:1–2; 25:15–22). That our God hears our complaints is a great comfort in all distress (Micah 7:7). As He has promised, so does He hear. Not only does Christ hear our complaints about the troubles of the body and soul, but He also intercedes to the Father and mediates on our behalf (1 Timothy 2:5). His blood covers our sins, especially those sins of which the accuser, Satan, is wont to remind us (Hebrews 12:24). His promise of forgiveness stands forever. The prayer of the forgiven sinner is that the Lord would continue to guide us by His Word. Praise to the Lord, now and forever. (Kantor Lock for Logia Online)
Sunday School October Memory Verses:
October 7 – 1 Corinthians 6:20 – “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
October 14 – Job 28:28 - 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.'
October 21 – Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light unto my path.”
October 28 – Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”