TEXT: MATTHEW 9:1-8; EPH. 4:22-28; GEN. 28:10-17
WHICH IS EASIER? JESUS ACTS THAT YOU MAY KNOW! CURING PARALYSIS OR CURING THE PARALYSIS OF SIN?
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.


And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. In pre-marriage conversations I use an example of a couple in the first town I served as pastor. One month after their wedding Wayne was playing yard football with friends in this city. While playing he fell backward causing his head to snap forward. His neck was broken and from that moment on he was a quadriplegic. Four weeks after they said “I do” married life was radically changed for Wayne and Barbara. No wage-earning husband. No children. Some two decades after that day - when we moved here from Wautoma - Barbara was still loving and caring for her paralyzed husband. They help us contemplate the total commitment of agape love in marriage, for better or worse, in sickness or health.

 

Some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. Paralysis is devastating – limbs go limp – muscles waste away – this grown man was carried by others. 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. These men were trusting Jesus as the one with authority from God to heal and restore and forgive sins. Jesus spoke to correct apprehension they may have had for crashing into His presence. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”  Jesus speaks courage to them even as they sought help from Him. Nothing pleases the Lord more than to be fully trusted like this – to be treated as merciful and willing to help – to be sought ought in great need!  “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”  In the very act of Jesus’ speaking the paralytics sins are being forgiven!

NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – Oct. 11, 2015
TEXT: MATTHEW 9:1-8; EPH. 4:22-28; GEN. 28:10-17
WHICH IS EASIER? JESUS ACTS THAT YOU MAY KNOW! CURING PARALYSIS OR CURING THE PARALYSIS OF SIN?
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.


And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. In pre-marriage conversations I use an example of a couple in the first town I served as pastor. One month after their wedding Wayne was playing yard football with friends in this city. While playing he fell backward causing his head to snap forward. His neck was broken and from that moment on he was a quadriplegic. Four weeks after they said “I do” married life was radically changed for Wayne and Barbara. No wage-earning husband. No children. Some two decades after that day - when we moved here from Wautoma - Barbara was still loving and caring for her paralyzed husband. They help us contemplate the total commitment of agape love in marriage, for better or worse, in sickness or health.

Some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. Paralysis is devastating – limbs go limp – muscles waste away – this grown man was carried by others. 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. These men were trusting Jesus as the one with authority from God to heal and restore and forgive sins. Jesus spoke to correct apprehension they may have had for crashing into His presence. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”  Jesus speaks courage to them even as they sought help from Him. Nothing pleases the Lord more than to be fully trusted like this – to be treated as merciful and willing to help – to be sought ought in great need!  “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”  In the very act of Jesus’ speaking the paralytics sins are being forgiven!

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 all sickness and sin. It is sinners who get sick – only sinners!  Sickness affects us and death awaits us because of our sin.


Jesus here also trumpets the jarring priority of the forgiveness of sins!  In the face of physical paralysis – his statement perhaps seemed irrelevant. The most pressing need seems to be bodily healing. See how the shock of Jesus’ priority clarifies the most precious Gospel gift!  Jesus speaks clear and beautiful Gospel!   He had cleansed a leper!  He had healed the centurion’s servant from a distance!  He had stilled raging wind and waves with a word!  But here – on this day – He released a man with His authority to forgive sins. Nothing deeper – nothing wider – nothing higher than the forgiveness Jesus gives.


But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?”  To doubt Jesus’ authority to forgive sin is evil. “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. Those present would not have been able to outwardly tell for sure if this man’s sins were truly being forgiven or not.  


“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. Their reaction to Jesus was rather like Jacob who also was afraid when he said – surely the Lord is in this place – How awesome is this place!


We know that God alone forgives sin. We must also know the awesome places the awesome means by which He has promised to do so. What Jesus does with His authority helps us see. Consider the last major impression of the hearers of the Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes (Mt. 7:28-29). Consider His first major interrogation during holy week. When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things and who gave you this authority? (Mt. 21:23). Consider Jesus’ answer to Pilate’s question – Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you? Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above (John 19:10-11).


The authority Jesus’ has to forgive sins on earth flows directly from the Father’s gift of the Son of Man from heaven. 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 and His humiliation. It took His receiving a body knit together in the virgin’s womb – His years of toil and public ministry – His opposition by those He came to save – His suffering and bloody sacrifice – His being paralyzed and limp under our enemy of death – cut off from life and love by the damning wrath of God – all for bearing our sin. How awesome is this place!  He who suffered and died there is the gate of heaven. But we cannot go back to the cross.

 

Consider then Jesus’ first use of His authority fresh from the grave. To His disciples – 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). Jesus’ authority on earth to forgive sin – given to men!  And then – All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.


Dear Christians, if you want forgiveness of sins – you cannot manufacture it and self-medicate with it. You cannot scramble here and there and find it. You can receive it in the Christian Church for Jesus is with her to the end of the age. As you have learned to confess it – I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints (that is holy people receiving God’s holy things – and in that context) the forgiveness of sins. The Holy Spirit does not promise to carry on His work apart from the Word and the holy mysteries of God. God has ordained to draw near to you in holy baptism with forgiveness (Acts 2:38). Christ draws near to you to forgive you on earth – in the drinking of His blood (Mt. 26:28).  


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. You are free to absolve a brother or sister in Christ – by Jesus’ authority!  You are free to receive absolution from a brother or sister in Christ – by Jesus’ authority. You are free to receive absolution from your pastor in His office – by Jesus’ authority.


What Christ is saying here to the paralytic He says continually to you in baptism, in absolution, in public preaching, at His table. Take heart, my son (my daughter) your sins are forgiven. Your sins are really and truly forgiven with all the authority in heaven and on earth. You must not mistakenly think God is angry and ungracious toward you. With the forgiveness of sins you are at the ultimate place in relationship with God. He holds nothing against you – nothing!  This is the momentous truth of the forgiveness of sins!  His blood cleanses you from all sin!       


Fellow-redeemed, so much can seem to paralyze us in this overly active age. Sometimes we may feel numb – needing to be carried on a stretcher. Life can be so fractured – so buffeted by change – so full of need and demands – overflowing with disappointment or uncertainty. But Satan’s inside man seeks to paralyze you in the deepest way – in unbelief. To this end, nothing is more immobilizing than a guilty conscience!  So he accuses you – “you have messed up too badly – it can never be right between God and you – you are a weak failure – past mattering to God. 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?


This is the battle that 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 – nothing is more mobilizing – than the forgiveness of sins.


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!  It’s why He is with His Church to the end of the age. It’s why He promised that where two or three are gathered together in His Name He is in their midst.


Surely the Lord is in this place – by His promise. Nothing pleases Him more than for you to receive and trust His good and gracious will toward you!  You can’t climb into heaven – but He opens it for you!  Take heart, my son (my daughter) your sins are forgiven.


You are free to come into His presence in prayer – anytime – to call upon Him in the day of trouble!  You are free to carry one another’s burdens!  You are free to drown the Old Man with all his sins and evil desires in daily contrition and repentance because He fully and freely forgives you. You are therefore free in your new man to love the Lord with all your heart! 

 

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