MATTHEW 9:1-8; EPH. 4:22-28; GEN. 28:10-17
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


To the saints who are at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Dear hearers of the Word made flesh:


You know how it is when 10 minutes can seem like 10 seconds. At 5:20AM – lying in bed – you tap the snooze bar. There is nothing your mind and body feel like doing more than lying on that bed. Almost instantly the alarm is sounding again and its 5:30. 10 minutes seems like 10 seconds and continuing to lie on that bed can be so very tempting. In like manner lying on that bed can be so very satisfying at the end of a long and trying day.


For the man brought before Jesus, however, lying in bed was neither tempting nor especially satisfying. Rather, for him it was a major dwelling place - even a necessary means of travel. Some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. St. Mark provides details as to their actions – digging up a roof – lowering him down as their faith pressed to be in the presence of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 


In the face of physical paralysis – Jesus’ statement perhaps seemed off target. The most pressing visible need was surely bodily healing – being freed from the prison of his paralysis and his bed. Day after day 10 min for him may often have seemed like 10 hours. When the sun arose each day, he did not arise to move along his way. No one wants to be a burden to others but he certainly was – carried along on this day by others. Rather than craving to lie longer in bed, he would have rejoiced beyond measure to jump up for work or for class – to exhaust himself with vocational duties and the needs of others – to sink into bed tired and weary at day’s end. But such gifts of daily bread were denied him. Some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. His need was constant. His need was confining. His need was crippling. His need was now directly in the presence of Christ.

NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – OCT 2, 2016
MATTHEW 9:1-8; EPH. 4:22-28; GEN. 28:10-17
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


To the saints who are at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Dear hearers of the Word made flesh:


You know how it is when 10 minutes can seem like 10 seconds. At 5:20AM – lying in bed – you tap the snooze bar. There is nothing your mind and body feel like doing more than lying on that bed. Almost instantly the alarm is sounding again and its 5:30. 10 minutes seems like 10 seconds and continuing to lie on that bed can be so very tempting. In like manner lying on that bed can be so very satisfying at the end of a long and trying day.


For the man brought before Jesus, however, lying in bed was neither tempting nor especially satisfying. Rather, for him it was a major dwelling place - even a necessary means of travel. Some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. St. Mark provides details as to their actions – digging up a roof – lowering him down as their faith pressed to be in the presence of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 


In the face of physical paralysis – Jesus’ statement perhaps seemed off target. The most pressing visible need was surely bodily healing – being freed from the prison of his paralysis and his bed. Day after day 10 min for him may often have seemed like 10 hours. When the sun arose each day, he did not arise to move along his way. No one wants to be a burden to others but he certainly was – carried along on this day by others. Rather than craving to lie longer in bed, he would have rejoiced beyond measure to jump up for work or for class – to exhaust himself with vocational duties and the needs of others – to sink into bed tired and weary at day’s end. But such gifts of daily bread were denied him. Some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. His need was constant. His need was confining. His need was crippling. His need was now directly in the presence of Christ.


He who stilled raging wind and waves with a word – who healed lepers with a word – first says this word to a man paralyzed and limited to his bed - “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”  Your sins! Not some of them! Not most of them! Your sins! Even the sins that mess most with your conscience! Even the sins you are not aware of and do not discern! Dear Christian – the gift of forgiveness that Jesus speaks must never become the grand “of course” in your life. Of Course I have forgiveness – I’ve moved on to higher things!


Only God in the flesh could speak this gift on His own authority. Oh, one person might say to another – “I forgive you for hurting me.”  But the forgiveness Jesus’ speaks is total – covering everything in this man’s life against everybody in his life. Take heart my son, your sins are forgiven. Your sins against those carrying you into my presence – your impatient sins against those in your home helping care for you day after day! Your sins of envy and coveting what your friends have that you do not! Your sins of lust! Even your sins of complaint and fault-finding with God! Take heart my son, your sins are forgiven.


Jesus’ words are the words of God in the flesh or they are the words of a confused and proud fool. You see, trying to fashion a Jesus who is a nice man who fits with other religious idols is not an honest enterprise. If He is not the world’s Savior – neither is He a good man. It is not good to falsely claim divine authority and Jesus here claims the authority of God. He is either God or a deluded and evil man. The scribes understood the latter to be true.


And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.”  They thought Jesus was demeaning and disrespecting God – claiming to do what only God can do. Meanwhile Jesus was revealing the connection between sickness and sin. It is sinners who get sick. It is sinners who die.


But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?”  To doubt Jesus’ authority to forgive sin is evil. This evil is the center of Satan’s temptations – to doubt Jesus’ person and authority. It is also the center of Satan’s accusations – to doubt that Jesus’ loving forgiveness releases you from all your sins. “Why do you think evil in your hearts?”  This evil is not recognized by the world. This evil is not seen as evil by your old self who clings to falsehood and deceitful desires – even the desire to justify yourself. To doubt Jesus’ authority to forgive sin is the very evil the Holy Spirit is at work to convict the world of – unbelief in Jesus (John 16:8-11). As we pray in the Collect that God would keep us from all things that may hurt us – surely unbelief in His forgiveness will hurt us beyond anything else.


“Why do you think evil in your hearts?” “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? Note that Jesus did not say – “Which is easier to do?” but rather, “Which is easier to say?”  In reality – in that setting – “Rise and walk” was harder to say! Any observer could immediately see the lie – the lack of authority to do this miracle if such was the case. However, those present would not have been able to outwardly disprove that  Jesus forgave this man’s sins.


“Which is easier, to say…”  “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. Again, see the wonder of Jesus’ healing word! He who could not rise from his bed when the sun rose each day – on this day rose in the presence of God’s Son. Jesus bids him bear what formerly bore him - “pick up your bed and go home.”  Consider his unbounded relief at carrying a burden instead of being one. Consider his joyful satisfaction in lying down to rest in bed that night in his home. Consider his delight at being free from his bed – being able to rise and to work when the sun rose the next day. Such beautiful freedom - flowing from the healing authority of Jesus word! Such beautiful daily gifts that we too easily overlook and lose thankfulness for.


But even more beautiful and freeing than that – his sins were forgiven – all of them were released from him – they were let go – they were sent off – by Jesus! “Which is easier?”  Certainly not this! If the question in our text had not been concerned with appearances before men – but with reality before God – then nothing is harder than the forgiveness of sin. To heal this man it took a mere word – Rise, pick up your bed…like the words that created heaven and earth – Let there be… But to forgive our sin – it took the Word made flesh receiving a body knit together in the virgin’s womb. It took His years of toil and public ministry in which the Son of Man had no place to lay his head (Matt. 8:2). It took setting His face toward Jerusalem knowing full well what awaited Him there. It took His bloody sweat and agonizing suffering. It took His once for all sacrifice – deserted and denied, and publicly shamed. It took His being paralyzed and limp under our enemy of death – cut off from life and love by the damning wrath of God. It took His burial when like Jacob whose pillow was a stone – the corpse of Jesus was laid in a stone cave.


“Which is easier?”  Not this – not the forgiveness of sin! It took the rising to new life of the crucified One – as the sun rose on the morning of the third day. It took His speaking words of life and peace in the new creation – creating us after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Recall His words to His disciples on Easter evening – “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you…He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any it is withheld (John 20:22-23).


Beloved, Jesus here confirms the reaction of the crowds to His work with the paralytic?  When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. The words of the risen Christ reveal that this forgiving authority is ongoing in and through His Church among men. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them. Such is His gift of Holy Absolution – spoken forgiveness of sins given to men by the authority of Christ. This is not a mere wish or desire but a return to your baptism always as grace-filled and forgiving for you as the day you received it!


The Church’s existence depends on this – the forgiveness of sins by the authority of Jesus. The church’s reason for existence flows from this – receiving His word of forgiveness and speaking it to others. By Jesus’ authority you are free to receive absolution from your pastor in His office as pastor. He is a clay pot – but Jesus’ word is eternal treasure. By Jesus’ authority you are free to absolve a brother or sister who sins against you! By Jesus’ authority you are free to receive absolution from a brother or sister in Christ whom you have sinned against!


This is true whatever seems to paralyze you – perhaps sometimes making you feel as if you need to be carried on a stretcher. When your life is buffeted by change or burdened with demands or darkened by an accusing conscience Satan’s inside man constantly seeks to paralyze you in the deepest way – in unbelief. He accuses you as  having messed up so badly that it cannot be right between God and you. So speaks the father of lies who has an ally on the inside. But this lie is the ultimate falsehood we are called to put away. Why do you think (this) evil in your heart?  Jesus’ word of authority stands behind His gift given to men. To be sure, we are to be sorry for sin. But Dr. Luther once said in this regard that in absolving it is not as necessary to say: Are you sorry? as it is to say: Do you believe it is possible for me to absolve you? (WLS #13). In the hymnal it is asked this way – Do you believe that my forgiveness is God’s forgiveness (LSB – p. 293)


This is part of the battle St. Paul voices to the church at Ephesus. Put off your old man, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt (that is decaying and destroying himself) through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds to put on the new man, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Beloved of God, in this battle that which makes new and gives life is the forgiveness of sins – given to men by the authority of Jesus.


In this ongoing battle you are like the paralytic – by nature spiritually crippled but in Christ continually rising and walking away from the old man in you. This is what baptism with water indicates! No one wins this battle alone! Forgiveness of sins lives where Jesus speaks His word! He speaks His forgiving word What Christ is saying here to the paralytic He says continually to you in water and word. He speaks His forgiving word to you at His table with His body/bread and His blood/wine – forgiveness food for you. Take heart, my son (my daughter) your sins are forgiven. All your sins - forgiven with all the authority in heaven and on earth - by Jesus.


His first words to the paralytic trumpet this most precious Gospel gift! There is nothing deeper – nothing wider – nothing higher than the forgiveness of sins He gives you. That’s why He comes among us today! By His promise to two or three gathered in His Name God is surely in this place! Nothing pleases Him more than for you to receive and trust His good and gracious will toward you! You cannot climb into heaven – but He opens it for you! Take heart, my son (my daughter) your sins are forgiven. And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation!


Sometimes in this troubled world when the pleasure of bodily rest is desired – 10 minutes can seem like 10 seconds. Sometimes in this troubled world when problems paralyze you 10 minutes can seem like 10 hours. But the time is soon coming when God’s holy angels will bear you home to Abraham’s side. And at Christ’s reappearing he will awaken your body from death to see His face - His glorious face. In His presence your service to Him is perfect – your rest in Him is perfect – and your pleasure in Him is eternal. This is God, our God, forever and ever. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a