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Trinity 19 – Matthew 9:1-8

by pastorjuhl ~ October 15th, 2009

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

The answer is “YES!” What is the question you ask? Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or to say, “Arise and walk”? Jesus Christ forgives sins and raises the lame. He does so not merely in the Scriptures. He forgives your sins and will raise you and all believers in Christ from the dead when He returns on the Last Day. No wonder most of today’s hymns come from the “Praise and Adoration” section of the Service Book. Like those in Capernaum, you can’t help marvel and glorify God, who had given such power to men.

The Lord God says in Isaiah chapter 43, I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins. This is why the scribes take issue with Jesus’ first words to the paralytic. They believe Jesus is not the Son of God. He has no business speaking the Word that only God can speak. Speaking the Word that God alone can speak is blasphemy. Jesus is found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death by crucifixion. Like the paralytic, Jesus rises up from His place of rest and walks away.

You cannot separate the forgiveness of sins from the resurrection. To declare your sins forgiven is to say that you will rise from the dead. To say that you will rise from the dead means you have saving faith in Jesus Christ, the God-Man Who inaugurates the New Creation in His resurrection. No faith in Christ, no forgiveness of sins and no promise of eternal life.

The scribes imply Jesus is not the Christ when they grumble within themselves that Jesus blasphemes. The scribes are the actual blasphemers because they mock the Son of God and are caught. Jesus says to them, why do you think evil in your hearts? That’s a good question. Why do you think evil in your hearts when you come to God’s house to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life? King Solomon warns you in Ecclesiastes, walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Have you caught yourself walking to God’s House thinking you will offer Him a pure and clean heart through singing extra loud, praying extra hard, and looking extra pious? If you have, join the crowd of fellow hypocrites who walk through church doors all over the world. Consider yourself caught mocking the Son of God by trying to be holier than your unholy neighbor is.

The paralytic is a picture of Christ’s Church. He lies on a bed, unable to walk. He depends upon the kindness of his friends to bring him to Jesus. Mark and Luke’s Gospel go one step farther and say that the man had to be lowered through the roof in front of Jesus because there was no way to get the man through the house door. Those who carry the paralytic to Jesus are friends both of the man in need of healing as well as the Man Who can heal.

Sin binds your body and soul. You are unable to walk or stand before God as someone who does not need His healing touch. When you were an infant or a young child your parents brought you to God’s House because they believed your soul needed healing. The pastor, in the stead and by the command of Jesus Christ, washed you clean of sin in Holy Baptism. You were clothed in the white garment of incorruption. Because Jesus takes away your sins, He also makes the promise that you will rise from the dead just as He rose from the dead.

When you were confirmed, you spoke the Word of promise that you would rather die before falling away from Christ’s holy Church. You spoke the baptismal creed first spoken on your behalf at your baptism. You knelt to receive the blessing of Jesus Christ. You also knelt to receive His True Body and True Blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. As you learned in confirmation instruction, where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

It’s easy for Jesus to forgive sins. It’s also easy for Jesus to tell you as He told the paralytic, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house. Pastors don’t use those exact words, but that’s what is said from this chancel every Lord’s Day. Not only are your sins forgiven, but your life in Jesus Christ is restored and renewed. What’s amazing about the matter is that God gives such power to men. God gave this power first to His only-begotten Son Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not making the inference that the pastor equals Jesus Christ. If it were so, then countless sleeping bodies in cemeteries would be alive. Those sleeping bodies will rise one day, but not at a pastor’s Word. Those sleeping bodies will rise at the sound of our Lord Christ’s voice. His voice is the same voice that brought all life into being at creation. His voice is the same voice that spoke the Promise of a Savior to Adam and Eve. His voice is the same voice that rose up the paralytic from his bed. His voice is the same voice that will wake you and me from peaceful slumber wherever our mortal remains may lie.

Jacob’s ladder has one end in heaven. The other end is right here at the corner of Second and Pine. God comes down to earth here to bring you the one thing needful: the priceless treasure of the Gospel spoken in sermon, absolution, and the Supper. After feeding your hungry heart, He says to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.

You are already a new creation by virtue of your baptism. You will receive the fullness of that new creation, a new body and soul, when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead. On that day your body will be changed. Gone is the old. The new has come. No more painful memories. No more painful body. There will be resurrection joy unlike any Easter you’ve ever experienced.

When Jacob saw the ladder in a dream, He responded surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Though this building is modest, it is the house of God and the gate of heaven. We get a tiny glimpse of the life of the world to come each weekend. We hear the Lord say to our soul as He said to the psalmist, I am your salvation! Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things! He has given such power of forgiveness and life to man. The answer is “YES!” Believe it for Jesus’ sake.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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