By Rev. Eric Brown
“Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
Ugh! Jesus, just get to the point! When people bring you a paralyzed guy, don’t waste your time talking about a bunch of forgiveness stuff; get to the point and heal him! At least this is what a part of me thinks whenever I read Matthew 9. There is a part of me that is an utterly impatient and “practical” 21st Century problem solver. The big problem is he can’t walk, so fix that!
But of course, Jesus is right. The biggest problem in this fellow’s life isn’t that he’s paralyzed. The bigger problem is the fact that he’s a sinner. Imagine all the guilt and shame that could roll around your head when you are left on your own and unable to move. Now imagine there’s no iPads or music or movies to distract you from your guilt and shame. Imagine the isolation, the thoughts that surely God must hate me. Over and against those, Jesus dives right on in to the problem. Take heart, your sins are forgiven.
Sin is still our big problem today. Oh sure, we have so many ways of trying to avoid thinking about our sin. We can be distracted away from it by the entertainment industry, or we can drink it, drug it away. We can go to our social media bubble and find our friends who will like, approve, and validate our every idea no matter how wrong or foolish it is. We have almost limitless ways to try to pretend our sin isn’t there… and yet, that guilt and shame of our sin still pops out, and all too often it hits us, leaving us numb, battered, broken, and even unable to move.
“Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” That’s still what Jesus says to you. You are baptized. You are His child. Jesus forgives you. Your sin is taken away.
When the grumblers doubted whether Jesus had the authority to forgive sins, He healed the guy to demonstrate who He was. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to see the real, full Jesus, you see Him go to the Cross. Jesus died for your sins and rose for your sake. When His disciples doubted and feared, the Crucified and Risen Lord showed them His hands and sides and said, “Peace be with you.” When we deal with our fears and doubts and hurts and shames today, we hear His appointed, called and ordained servant hold His Body and Blood before us and say, “The Peace of the Lord be with you always.” Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.
Jesus knows what you need. He knows how you are hounded by sin. He knows this even when you yourself try to pull the wool over your own eyes. And so He will continually call you to His House, and there He will forgive you your sin. That’s what Jesus does; He handles the real problem, handles the things that we can’t. Take heart, my friend – Jesus has forgiven your sin.
Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois and the co-host of the HT Gospeled Boldly Podcast.