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Summary: A call to begin the new year with forgiveness.

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-so to start the new year, I thought we’d go with an idea that almost everyone knows, one that can be really helps with all sorts of New Year’s resolutions and getting along with people. But at the same time it’s probably one of the hardest ones to do. Forgiveness.

-and this was one of the hardest concepts for people to understand back when Jesus was walking the earth. It was probably the biggest hindrance to Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees always getting on Him about this.

-but at the same time it was and still is completely central to who Jesus is, to His teaching, to everything about Him and His ministry. Remember the two greatest commandments from Winter Retreats past? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

-so let’s look at a story that illustrates this.

**Luke 5:17-26 -> 17One day as He was teaching, Pharisees and religion teachers were sitting around. They had come from nearly every village in Galilee and Judea, even as far away as Jerusalem, to be there. The healing power of God was on Him. 18Some men arrived carrying a paraplegic on a stretcher. They were looking for a way to get into the house and set him before Jesus. 19When they couldn’t find a way in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus. 20Impressed by their bold belief, He said, “Friend, I forgive your sins.” 21That set the religion scholars and Pharisees buzzing. “Who does He think He is? That’s blasphemous talk! God and only God can forgive sins.” 22Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking and said, “Why all this gossipy whispering? 23Which is simpler: to say ‘I forgive your sins’ or to say ‘Get up and start walking’? 24Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both…” He now spoke directly to the paraplegic: “Get up. Take your bedroll and go home.” 25Without a moment’s hesitation, he did it - got up, took his blanket, and left for home, giving glory to God all the way. 26The people rubbed their eyes, incredulous - and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, “We’ve never seen anything like that!” (MSG)

-so why was this so hard to understand? Why did the Pharisees get so upset? Well, to understand that, we have to understand the Pharisees and their old way of thinking.

1. THE OLD WAY

-to the Pharisees and those that understood the Law, they were still thinking the old way.

-you have to remember, it wasn’t like it is today. You can read the Bible yourself and learn. Back then, most people couldn’t. They couldn’t read and/or couldn’t afford a Bible. The teachers told them what it said

-so first you have the idea that people can talk directly to God and ask for forgiveness. That would have been a completely foreign concept. I know today it’s common, but back then that was just crazy.

-but then you have the idea that you can just be forgiven. You can tell God you’re sorry and He can instantly and wholly forgive you on the spot! Think about how amazing that is. Now think about a group of people who for fifteen hundred years have had a list of things you do to earn forgiveness, handed down to Moses from the mouth of God, and this guy shows up basically saying you can throw that all out the window.

-I picked for an example what you had to do if you sinned accidentally. The religious leaders had all these rules for each sin, then this blanket one if you did something wrong and didn’t know it.

**Lev. 5:14-16 -> 14The Lord said to Moses, 15”If a person accidentally sins and does something against the holy things of the Lord, he must bring from the flock a male sheep that has nothing wrong with it. This will be his penalty offering to the Lord. Its value in silver must be correct as set by the Holy Place measure. It is a penalty offering. 16That person must pay for the sin he did against the holy thing, adding one-fifth to it’s value. Then he must give it all to the priest. In this way the priest will remove the person’s sin so he will belong to the Lord, by using the male sheep as the penalty offering. And the Lord will forgive the person. (NCV)

-this was the way they were used to doing things. Remember, we have the benefit of knowing for sure who Jesus is because we know He died and rose again. These guys didn’t. Jesus was still walking with them saying He’s God without the proof that we’ve already seen.

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