Your Sins Are Forgiven; Take Up Your Mat and Walk

Why is no one afraid this time?

Luke 5:15-26 (ESV)

But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”

So, how come no one’s afraid this time? After catching a boatload of fish, Peter was terrified by Jesus’ holy presence. “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” – Luke 5:8b

Somehow that “fear of holiness” effect doesn’t kick in this time – even though Jesus explicitly points out the holiness connection with, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Why?

This may be partly due to crowd effects, but there’s also a terrible effect that’s starting to take hold. Word is getting out about what Jesus can do and people are getting used to it. “Ya seen one miracle, ya seen ’em all.”

The purpose of these miracles is to confirm Jesus’ authority. That’s why He said, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” They do – but no one seems all that excited about them anymore.

The most important event in human history is happening right before their eyes and they’re losing interest.

Older Christians often lose the excitement they had when they were new. The terrible truth is that we get used to it. People often call this “complacency,” but it’s more like “boredom.” Everything becomes “been there; done that.”

If this is you, consider what new things God might be calling you to get involved in. Are you doing the same things for the kingdom that you were doing last year? Is there something you might be able to help with? Is there something that desperately needs someone’s help, but you don’t think you’re qualified?

Take the step. Just do it.

God often challenges us to go beyond our limits.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.