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Matthew 9:1-8 It is a sad truth confirmed by God's Word and experience that the greatest blessings of God are the least respected and most misused. So it is with the forgiveness of sins. It is the biggest blessing and gift of grace, because it takes from us every curse, wrath, death and damnation, and gives salvation to all; because without forgiveness heaven remains closed to us, but forgiveness makes us pardoned and justified children of God and unlocks heaven for us. But many despise the comfort of forgiveness because they live in carnal security, others make it to be superfluous because they keep their good works for a low level of satisfaction for their sins, while others rely on the comfort of forgiveness in order to live on in sin. All these are despisers of the dearest blessing of God; they have no part in the comfort of forgiveness as long as they remain in such godless inclination. So that we guard against such contempt, let us consider from today's Gospel: The consolation of forgiveness, as the consolation, 1. which we need the most, 2. that no one can give except Jesus alone, 3. that we should need for praise of His glorious grace. 1. The Lord Jesus first gives to the paralytic the consolation of forgiveness before he makes him physically healthy. All circumstances indicate how urgently the paralytic required physical assistance; he lay on a bed, was carried by four men, who put aside the roof, and let him down from above, together with the bed, at Jesus' feet. They could not have urgently put forward their desire for His assistance in words as they do with action. Was that not faith? But what does the Lord do? When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic: "Take heart, my son, your sins are forgiven." Apparently, Christ wants to show, a. that the comfort of forgiveness is the first and most necessary thing that the sufferer needs. No sickness is so heavy and dangerous as sin. The pains of sickness are physical, the pains that sin causes are eternal. The worst outcome that a bodily sickness can take is only bodily death; the outcome that sin takes is eternal death. For the wages of sin is death. 1 b. that He knew quite well how it looked in the heart of the paralytic, for the paralytic had been prepared by his grace; it was capable for the consolation of forgiveness. As the paralytic was tormented and anguished by his pain on his sickbed, there he had given him to realize through His Spirit: this is God's Hand that strikes you; it is your sins that is disciplining and punishing you. He has not merely herewith awakened his sleeping conscience, but also reminded him through His Spirit of God's promises of the forgiveness of sins, and thereby works in him a sincere and ardent desire for the comfort of forgiveness. But faith is already hidden in
such a request. The words: "When Jesus saw their faith" witness that the paralytic had such a desire of faith. Application: When God afflicts you with sickness, cross and tribulation, then remember your sins. Remember that you have earned eternal wrath with your sins. "Your evil will chastise you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the LORD your God; the fear of Me is not in you, declares the Lord GOD of hosts." 2 Do not grieve so much that you let go of your cross, rather than recovering your soul. Search therefore in particular the consolation of grace and forgiveness. Pray with David in Psalm 25: "Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins", and the Lord will answer you: "But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My Word."3 On the other hand, how sad it is for those souls who seek only the physician of the body, but do not pay attention to their sin, by which the prophet Jeremiah says: "You have struck them down, but they felt no anguish; You have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent."4 2. No one can forgive sin but Jesus alone. Why? Because He is the one, true God with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and because He has acquired the forgiveness of sins with His blood on the cross: "In whom we have redemption," etc.5 Therefore, sins are forgiven only for the sake of Jesus and His precious merit. Whoever wants to have forgiveness of sins without Christ, the Mediator, receives none; on the other hand, all who believe in Christ are promised forgiveness. The scribes believed in a forgiveness, but not that Jesus could forgive sin; they said among themselves: This man blasphemes God - He had taken divine honor on Himself. But Christ proves his divine power and glory a. with revealing their thoughts: "But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, 'Why do you think evil in your hearts?'" b. with the miracle which He did before their eyes on the paralytic. If the words: "Rise, pick up your bed and go home" was immediately fulfilled in His power to the paralytic, that he got up and went home completely healthy, then the first spoken word: "Your sins are forgiven", could not be powerful. To be able to give life, strength, and health to such a man paralyzed in every limb by the mere word in the blink of an eye, this was no less divine power as to take away sins from people with all its guilt and eternal punishment. And if all of the great deeds of the power of Jesus Christ were not enough for us, that He has the power to forgive sins, then we may point to the millions of faithful Christians who have experienced the power of His forgiveness in the peace of their hearts and consciences, and in the certainty of their salvation through faith in His name. Application: Turn toward Jesus in your distress of sin. If you will draw near to the throne of majesty as a sinner, then you will be devoured like wax in the heat of fire; if you turn to the mercy seat, Who is Jesus Christ, then you shall receive mercy. "Let us then with confidence
Jeremiah 2:19. Isaiah 66:2b. 4 Jeremiah 5:3b. 5 Ephesians 1:7.
draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."6 2. Seek forgiveness where it is found: in His Word, in Absolution, in the holy Sacraments. He distributes them plentifully and in many ways, because we require them much and often. Many deny the power that Christ generally has given to His Church, to ministers of the Word, and to his faithful, under the pretense that they know that only Christ upheld the power to forgive sins, want to give Him alone the honor; but in fact they take away His honor because they despise the means by which He administers to us His forgiveness. 3. Seek forgiveness not in your feeling, but only in words, otherwise at the time of temptation you are identical to a pipe that can easily break in the storm of hell. 3. In order that we should take the consolation of forgiveness to the praise of His glorious grace, He shows us the people who marveled and praised God, and subsequently also the healed paralytic. a. "When the crowds saw it" etc. The astonishment came from a deep and joyous movement of the heart through the power and grace of Christ, that He gave health to this miserable man not only with His bare Word, but also forgave him his sins. But from this astonishment arose the praise and glory of divine mercy. But this is a fine example which should awaken us to consider the works and blessings of God with holy astonishment, especially when His hand is so obvious to us that we have to say: God has done this, He has wonderfully helped. What is more, we should be surprised about the works of His grace, that He receives us poor sinners, who do not deserve wrath, in His grace for Christ's sake, forgives us all our sins and makes us heirs of His eternal glory. So our mouths should indeed daily praise and glorify: "Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love."7 b. The paralytic shows us how we should show gratitude for the comfort of forgiveness by a new sanctified way of life. "Get up and walk", Christ says this word to everyone whom He has given the comfort of forgiveness. As He, because of this, has given to the paralytic the power to go and as previously He has set up His call, He thus gives forgiveness with consolation to all those who were previously incapable and powerless to do God's will, the power to get up from sin and to lead a new manner of life in obedience toward God, in His fear and love, in imitation of Christ, in denial of the world, in love and service to neighbor. Thus God wants to have used the consolation of forgiveness to the comfort of His glorious grace. Those who otherwise need it, who misuse it in order to continue in their sins, will have eternal disgrace for wages. "But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared."8 Help us, gracious, merciful God, that we rightly use His dear blessing to the honor of His Name, through Jesus Christ. Amen. G.A. Schick
Hebrews 4:16. Micah 7:18. 8 Psalm 130:4.