Summary: Jesus really forgives you.
Matthew 9:1-8: “YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN”
1) The most important words you’ll ever hear
2) Backed up by the biggest miracle you’ll ever see
Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." 3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!" 4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." 7 And the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.
Every Sunday, the same group of seven people would come to church. They were friendly. They would sit in the very back. The service would start, and then, after about 10 minutes or so, before the Scripture lessons were read, they would leave. And they would do this every Sunday.
Finally, the pastor asked them why they did this. The leader of the group spoke up and told the pastor, “We’re actually members of another church. Not a Lutheran one. But we like coming to the beginning of your church service, because every Sunday, we hear something that we don’t hear anywhere else. Every Sunday you say to us, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ You tell us that Jesus Christ took our sins away at the cross. We don’t hear that at our church, but we do hear it at yours. And so, we bring all of the sins that we’ve committed throughout the week to your church, we confess them to God, and then we hear those words – ‘your sins are forgiven.’ Then we go to our own church, where our family and friends attend.
The pastor encouraged them to think about staying for the entire service some time. I’m not sure what ever happened to that group of people. But they came to hear four words, “Your sins are forgiven.”
As Lutherans, we hear those words quite often. You hear them at the beginning of just about every church service. You hear about the forgiveness of sins again when you take the Lord’s Supper. Do you ever get tired of hearing those words? Do they lose meaning, after awhile? Just think about it – what would you rather hear – that your sins are forgiven, or that you have just won the lottery? Which one has more value, more meaning, more joy?
Today, we’re going to focus on a moment during Jesus’ ministry, when he spoke those 4 words. We’re going to see how those words are the most important words that you will ever hear. In fact, if someone were to ask me, what is the difference between the Christian religion and all the other religions of the world, I would tell him, “4 words. 4 words set Jesus apart from everyone else. Your sins are forgiven. May God bless our study of those words, and increase our faith in and appreciation for these four special words.
Picture Jesus sitting in a house. He is surrounded by all kinds of people. Some have come because they like him. And some have come because they don’t, and they’re trying to find fault. The house is packed with people. So many people are there that all the doorways and windows are blocked with people, trying to hear Jesus talk.
Four men come to that house, carrying their friend, who was paralyzed. It seems that he was paralyzed from the neck down, because he was lying down on a mat. They wanted to bring him to Jesus, but they couldn’t get to him – too many people were blocking the door to that house.
They found an outside stairway that led to the flat roof of the house, and took their friend up there. Then they dug through the roof. Can you imagine the disruption they were causing? Jesus is trying to teach, but there’s a loud noise above him. Straw is falling down on everyone, including Jesus. No one’s listening to Jesus because everyone is looking up. The ceiling above Jesus’ head opens up, and a paralyzed man is lowered into the middle of the room where Jesus is teaching.
But Jesus isn’t angry about the disruption. The Bible says that he was pleased. He saw their faith – these people believed so strongly that Jesus could and would heal that paralysis that they let nothing stand in their way. Everyone was watching to see what will happen next. And then Jesus says something unexpected. He doesn’t say, “You’re healed,” but “Your sins are forgiven.”