Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 27; 147:12-20, Genesis 39:1-23, 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15, Mark 2:1-12
Jesus was speaking to a large crowd gathered in and around his home. “[S]ome people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and […] let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'” The scribes present were offended that Jesus felt he had the authority to forgive sins. The man lowered through the roof may have been disappointed his faith was rewarded with forgiveness and not healing. His friends were probably not looking forward to carrying him back.
As he always seems to do, Jesus turns the situation on its head.
To demonstrate to the scribes the level of his authority, Jesus commands the man to pick up his mat and walk. What’s a little forgiveness compared to a miracle? While we have a suspicion Jesus intended to heal the man all along, his decision to first emphasize forgiveness is a powerful statement. In the text leading to this moment, Jesus seems increasingly frustrated the people follow him only for healings and miracles. While these are signs of his authority, they are only signs – which exist to point to something more important, something beyond our own satisfaction.
The most important healing Jesus offers is not of our mortal bodies, but of our eternal relationship with God. Some of us are convinced we are irredeemable (even though we hail Christ as our Redeemer!), and live our whole lives as if that was true. Others place blame on everyone else and live lives of petty grudges. Both situations demonstrate a lack of faith in forgiveness. These mindsets can be nearly impossible to shake. When we can fully accept that love and forgiveness are at the core of our beings and the center of our relationship with God, well … there’s the miracle.
Healing is not the end of the story, but the beginning. Once we accept God’s love and forgiveness, we can in turn love and forgive ourselves and each other. We heal the world. We are resurrected.
Comfort: The only thing standing between you and forgiveness … is you.
Challenge: Forgive someone. Don’t confuse it with excusing or justifying them. Forgive them as many times as you need to until it sticks.
Prayer: God of forgiveness, I step into your welcoming embrace. Thank you for loving me when I can’t forgive myself. I will accept your love even when I feel unworthy, because only your love heals me so I may forgive others. Amen.
Discussion: What do you need to forgive yourself for? Are you able to ask God to forgive you before you can forgive yourself?
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