The Day of Atonement. Every year the Jewish High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies and make atonement for the people of Israel. It is on this day sins were forgiven. Oh, there were other sacrifices during the year for specific sins, but this was THE day for sins to be forgiven. This was the day that God forgave sins.
Along came Jesus. Some friends brought him a man who was paralyzed. Jesus looked at the faith of the friends and then looked at the paralyzed man and told him that his sins were forgiven. This upset the Pharisees. Jesus was claiming the power to forgive sins and restore a relationship between man and God. This was blasphemy! Not only did that only happen on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest had to perform the ritual. Jesus recognized what was going on with them and then asked a simple question: “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?” (Matthew 9:5)
Ok, both of them are easy to say. Which is easier to say and know that the words are true? I have no problem telling someone that their sins are forgiven – well, unless they sinned against me and they don’t show sorrow over it. Then I want to hold that sin over their head. God, doesn’t, of course, but I do. But I digress. I have no confidence in any ability I have, or even in the relationship I have with God to say to someone who is paralyzed, “Get up and walk.” Jesus asked that question, though, to prove a point when in the next sentence He told the paralyzed man to walk. The Pharisees didn’t attack Jesus for the healing, which would seem to be a much harder sentence to fulfill, but for pronouncing the relationship between God and this man to be restored when He forgave the sins of the man who was paralyzed. The Pharisees recognized the power of a relationship with God.
I believe that Jesus forgave the man’s sins first because of a relationship with God. It is even more powerful than the ability to walk. He fully intended to heal the man, but the relationship issue had to be settled first. The same thing holds true for us today. I have seen many different reasons given from people who were given the opportunity to have their sins forgiven and find a restored relationship with God. They weren’t good enough, they had to clean up their lives first, something else had to be done before they could accept Christ. All those reasons don’t stand in the face of God’s desire to have a relationship with them. What about you? Have you asked Jesus to forgive your sins? Can you say that your relationship with God has been restored, or are you waiting for something to happen? I could tell you to rise up and walk, but that wouldn’t be as important as hearing the words and knowing the truth that your sins are forgiven. Thanks be to God!
Lord God, I can come to You grateful that my sins have been forgiven. I didn’t clean my life up, You did. I didn’t do anything to gain this forgiveness, You did it all. Help me to live in our restored relationship and show Your love and forgiveness to others.