God forgives, but…


 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

What went well for you last week? What successes did you experience last month? What good came to you in the past year? Or, would it be easier for you to dwell on the things that went wrong, the times you messed up or failed, the people you let down, the tasks that never got completed? I know for me, I am much more prone to focus on the second of those two.

Every week, in churches across the world, the gospel is proclaimed, “Your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!” And every week, people leave worship still caught in the weight of their sin. Just look at the scribes in Mark 2. These men dedicated their lives to studying, copying, and transmitting God’s Word so that the world would know it. Yet when they heard Jesus proclaim, “Son, your sins are forgiven!”, they were incredulous. They were in shock. They couldn’t compute the words they just heard. No one can forgive sins except for God. This man is abusing God’s Word!

They were uncertain about the grace of God for this person- and probably themselves, too. Professional church workers, people who should know the Bible. So, there is hope for us, too, even as we doubt God’s forgiveness in Jesus, that this man Jesus could really work the salvation of our souls. But does his forgiveness cover that sin? Can I really be washed clean from this dirty heart? Can those words be cancelled out by the cross? Can my actions be made acceptable before God by the atonement of Jesus?

Our hearts, marked by doubt, can find their assurance in the actions of Jesus. What proof did he give the scribes that this forgiveness was real? He healed the man of his paralysis. What proof does Jesus present to us that we are forgiven? The empty tomb. The cross of Good Friday was proven to be effective because Jesus rose from the dead. The wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23 states, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ.  Jesus took on the wages of sin and showed his power over them by rising again to life.

There is no “but.” You are forgiven, no matter what, because of Jesus.


Lord God, heavenly Father, we are awestruck by your love. We cannot comprehend how You look at us with love, even though we have fallen so far short of your glory. But through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, you have made us holy, you have set us apart, you have paved the way for us to live forever with you. We bless you and thank you that you have forgiven us in Jesus, no matter what. May we always cling tightly and joyfully to this promise, in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

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