Tag Archives: forgiven

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – SON…FORGIVEN

SON…FORGIVEN

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:1-12

What did Jesus see and value in the paralysed man? He may seem like a passive player in this scene but he most definitely was not. Until Jesus appeared on the public scene in Galilee, the man was helpless and hopeless. There was no cure for his condition and he was doomed to lie motionless on his mat day after day, relying on someone else to help him with every little detail of his life. He was a prisoner of his useless body with no hope of ever being released.

In that condition, his mind must have been hyperactive. How much time did he spend alone, just thinking? He was unable to do any religious exercises like offering sacrifices, attending the synagogue or celebrating the feasts, which might have brought some relief to his conscience. How many times did he lie wondering what caused his condition? What an internal hell he must have endured with no answers and no-one to give him hope.

What Jesus recognised in him drew out deep compassion for the man. He must have seen a repentant heart and a desperate longing for peace. Before He addressed his physical need, Jesus touched his heart. Forgiveness was a far greater need than healing and, with a word, Jesus swept his conscience clean. The man didn’t argue with His right or ability to forgive sins; he felt it, and his strengthened body responded.

Jesus values a broken and contrite heart. Until a person owns, not only his sin, but also his responsibility for his sin, he remains a prisoner to what is worse than sin itself, the pride that refuses to be accountable for the heart that rebels against God. Jesus values the ruthless honesty that confesses, “I did it and I alone am responsible for what I have done.” This includes the thoughts and motives that may never issue in any kind of action, but that remain in the heart to poison the inner life and cast a shadow over relationships with both God and men.

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN

CHAPTER 2

YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:1-12

Jesus roused the anger of the Pharisees over something that doesn’t make sense until one recognises a profound truth hidden in Scripture from the beginning. From the Pharisees’ perspective, Jesus was a man and yet He was declaring this paralytic’s sins forgiven. To them He was blaspheming because He was taking on God’s role and usurping God’s position as the only one who had the authority to forgive sins.

If only they realised it, this was a set-up to show them that Jesus was indeed God! He latched onto their objection even though it was only in their thoughts. He was sharp enough to discern their reaction and set up a challenge. Two situations here – one inward and invisible, the other outward and visible. If He did the apparently more difficult thing – heal the paralysed man, would it not show them that He had the same authority to do the inward thing – forgive the man’s sins?

When it happened, the Pharisees had no answer but they were not convinced because they didn’t want to be convinced. Jesus was providing proof over and over again that He was God, if they would only weigh the evidence honestly. The common people were delighted but the Pharisees were frustrated.

This poses a serious question. In the Pharisees’ understanding, sacrifice was the ground of forgiveness, but Jesus was offering forgiveness without sacrifice. How could that be? What the Pharisees did not understand was that animal sacrifice was the visible evidence of a sacrifice that had already been made before time.

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. Revelation 13:8

When Jesus was crucified in time, He was revealing what had already been accomplished before time. The animal sacrifices of the old covenant were useless to deal with sin apart from the eternal sacrifice of the Lamb of God (Hebrews 9:12-14). Therefore, Jesus had every right to offer forgiveness because of the eternal redemption He had already accomplished and would make visible through the cross.

The Conflict Begins

THE CONFLICT BEGINS

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that He had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and He preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to Him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on (Mark 2: 1-4).

Picture the scene. Jesus left Capernaum after a mass healing in the town. A leper had been cleansed but, instead of keeping quiet about it as Jesus had instructed him to do, he became a walking advert for the Healer, forcing Jesus to withdraw from the town. After a few days, when the dust had settled, He returned, only to be mobbed again, this time to hear Him preach. He was in the house – whose house we do not know – and every room was crowded with people who wanted to hear Him.

When a group of men arrived, carrying their paralysed friend on a mat, no one would give way for them. The people were wedged so tightly together in the house that it was impossible for them to make a gap, even if they wanted to. The mat-bearers had only one alternative – the roof. Imagine that! They were so determined to plant their friend under Jesus’ nose that they had no compunction about ripping a hole in the roof to do it.

Flat-roofed houses in the Middle East had balconies which were used to cool off at night. The men quickly carried their burden up the outside staircase, set him down and began to dig up the roof. Imagine the surprise of the people inside when bits of mud and plant debris began to fall from above. They must have wondered what on earth was going on! They soon got out of the way, leaving a cleared space right where Jesus sat.

That was exactly what these men were aiming for. When their friend came down through the roof, lowered on his mat by the four men, he came to rest right at Jesus’ feet.

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralysed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Mark 2: 5).

Hey! That’s not why they came. The man needed healing, not forgiveness. If he wanted forgiveness, they could have taken him to the temple and offered a sacrifice for him. What was wrong with Jesus? Couldn’t He see what the man’s problem was?

Ah, but Jesus saw his heart. His friends thought they knew what he needed but Jesus knew better. Perhaps the condition of his body was merely a symptom of something deep inside, something he had never dared mention to another soul. He had enough hours in every day to think. Perhaps his mind was so locked into his past that he was desperate to stop thinking.

What music the words of Jesus must have been in his ears. Forgiven! He never imagined it possible that he could feel such peace in his heart in an instant after all these years of guilt, shame and regret. Whoever this man was who had pronounced him forgiven, he believed Him; he felt it and it was like being in heaven. Even if he never walked again, it was worth the upheaval he caused to hear that word, “Forgiven!”

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ (Mark 2: 6-7).

Enter the opposition! It had to happen. Sooner or later Jesus would bump heads with the religious types. They were like the proverbial Gestapo, always around to sniff out anything Jesus might say or do which could be used in evidence against Him. His popularity began to get to them. They were there, not to learn but to spy on Him to see how they could bring Him down.

Forgiven! This stuck in their throats. ‘How can He pronounce a man forgiven, just like that? What about sacrifice? How can He override what the Torah says about sin and sacrifice? This man is a blasphemer. He thinks He is God. He says things He has no right to say. We’ll have to watch Him closely. He’s leading the people astray. He must be crazy.’

We can’t judge them. Yet. After all, they knew nothing about Jesus except that He had amazing powers to heal and evict demons, and they had no idea how He did it.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Rescued And Redeemed

RESCUED AND REDEEMED

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the        kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1: 13, 14)

How easy it is to gloss over these words like reading the newspaper and yet, what wealth and power is to be found in them!

“Rescued!” What does that mean to you? Not much, perhaps, unless you have experienced what it is like to be rescued from danger and possible death. I have never been rescued from a life-threatening situation as far as physical circumstances go, but I have been rescued from a lifestyle that was taking me deeper and deeper into darkness. If you have been involved in habits or addictions that were destroying you, you will understand what I mean.

Jesus rescued us from a situation far more dangerous and deadly even than physical death. What could be more dangerous than facing death? Jesus gives us the answer.

I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear, Fear Him who, after your body has been killed, has the authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him. (Lk. 12: 5)

Because of God’s mercy, Jesus has not only rescued us from death – He has also rescued us from the fear of death.

Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebr. 2: 15)

Jesus not only rescued us from death, i.e. shut out of the presence of God, but He also rescued us from the dominion of darkness which He called “hell” (Lk. 2: 15). What does that mean?

In the Bible, “darkness” often describes the disposition of the devil and all those who are in bondage to him. Darkness is the absence of light. What is the disposition of the devil?  God is everything that he is not. God is loving – the devil is not; God is generous – the devil is not; God is merciful – the devil is not; God is pure – the devil is not; and so we can go on. Imagine living in an environment like that – where you are completely ruled forever by and in the company of beings who are everything that God is not!

“Redeemed!” Redemption has to do with slavery. Not only were we in hell and under the dominion of darkness, under the control of an evil being and evil spirits who would completely dominate us forever, but we were also enslaved by him. He had the right to control us because he tricked the first human pair into giving him dominion over them, and all their descendants. We had no option but to serve him because we belonged to him.

The good news is that Jesus redeemed us by paying the redemption price to buy us back and free us from the devil’s dominion. How did He do that? He died our death, and took away the devil’s right to keep us in bondage to death. He paid the ransom price to redeem us so that He could forgive our sin and wipe our slate clean. Satan has no more hold over us because he has nothing more of which to accuse us. We have been freed from his clutches and removed from his power to dominate us ever again.

We have a new Master, Jesus, who is completely unlike our old master. We live under a new King, one who is our Rescuer and Redeemer. He loves us so passionately that He would not leave us to perish in the predicament we landed in because of our sin. He came in person to get us out of slavery and back into His family where we belong.

It is for this reason that we can be a part of the people for whom Paul prayed – filled with the knowledge of His will, bearing fruit, growing in our knowledge of God and full of joyful thanksgiving because of what He has done for us.

SCRIPTURE TAKEN FROM THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

The Slain Lamb

THE SLAIN LAMB

“David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven,                                                                 whose sins are covered.                                                                                                                   Blessed is the one                                                                                                                             whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” Romans 4:6-8.

Now we have another problem. If God can only forgive sin on the basis of the death of His Son, how could David experience the blessedness of knowing that his sins had been forgiven when he lived long before Jesus?

The writer to the Hebrews made it very clear that animal blood can never remove sin. It is only a picture of the greater sacrifice – that of God’s perfect Lamb.

“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshippers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.” Hebrews 10:1-3

“But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God…for by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Hebrews 10:12, 14.

Did David somehow understand that his sin was forgiven on the basis of a sacrifice that was perfect and acceptable to God for all time? On what basis did the children of Israel escape the angel of death when he passed over Egypt and struck down the firstborn of the Egyptians? By obeying God’s instruction to paint the blood of a lamb on the door frames of their houses, they were placing their faith in God’s promise and in the blood of a lamb.

Jesus was often in trouble with the religious leaders for forgiving sin. They accused Him of blasphemy because only God can forgive sin. On what basis did Jesus have the right to forgive sin? Because He was God? But God, according to His own decree, declared   that the only basis upon which sin can be forgiven was the death of a human being who had no sin of his own.

Now let’s look at God’s response.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” 1 Peter 1:20.

“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders …The Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the earth…” Revelation 5:6; 13:8.

Since God exists outside of time, He views the effects of what Jesus did on the cross, although it happened at a time in history, as spanning all time, not just the time after Jesus died.

The sacrificial system incorporated in the Mosaic Law was intended, not to be the basis for the forgiveness of sin, but a visual aid to help His people understand the nature of, and remedy for sin. When they trusted in the shed blood of a sacrificial lamb for the forgiveness of their sin, they were actually acknowledging God’s provision of a perfect Lamb that would deal with sin once and for all, and trusting in His promise of forgiveness.

The Israelites learned slowly, through a process; one lamb for a family when the angel of death passed over them on one occasion, memorialised by their annual celebration of Passover; one goat for a nation to forgive their sins for one year and, finally, one Lamb, God’s Son, for the world, once for all.

“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2.

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God.” 1 Peter 3:18.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.