Luke 5:1-26; Ezekiel 48; Isaiah 66
It used to be that my eyes would roll when I heard someone talk about the “good old days.” I was younger then. Now, when someone talks about the “good old days” I tend to nod my head in agreement. The major difference is that now that I’m older, the good old days are closer to the days I remember growing up. Only, the good old days usually aren’t exactly as we remember things, because we tend to remember the good things and ignore the bad. Those “happier, more peaceful” times often held ugliness that we wouldn’t accept today. And let’s face it, technology changes things so fast now that for many people, last year is the good old days. If your good old days doesn’t include computers, then you probably shouldn’t pine for those days with posts on social media. We do see a lot of reflection on the good old days, though, especially at this time of year.
Sometimes those memories inspire clashes with the younger generation. The younger generation looks at people like me and wonder how we survived such archaic times while they enjoy the benefits of modern living; while we wonder how the world will survive the future with young whippersnappers like those we see in the younger generation. This same attitude prevailed in the clashes Jesus had with the Pharisees. As Jesus lived and taught the New Covenant, the Pharisees and other religious leaders wondered how the world, well, at least Israel would survive with these kinds of attitudes among the younger folks. Jesus had this annoying habit of breaking their traditions. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’ The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” (Luke 5:20-21 NIV)
Jesus drew crowds wherever He went. He performed miracles because of His compassion, but He didn’t want people to think that those were the basis of His ministry. His goal was teaching and proclaiming about the Kingdom of God. The teaching drew crowds, and one group of people who needed a miracle climbed to the top of the roof of the house where Jesus was teaching and dropped their friend down on a pallet right in front of Jesus eyes. Jesus recognized that the man needed healing. Even more so, he needed to be right with God. Instead of telling the man to get up and walk, He began by telling the man his sins were forgiven. The Pharisees were livid. “Remember the good old days when only God could forgive sins?” Jesus had known what their reaction would be and used the forgiveness as a teachable moment. As you continue reading, Jesus taught them that the healing and walking was the easy part. He made that happen eventually. The hard part was reconnecting with God, but Jesus taught them that He had the ability to make that happen by forgiving their sins.
The old way was that only God could forgive, and people who sinned suffered such punishments. The new way Jesus showed was forgiveness from God for all people. Too often I hear people use the words of Jesus that His followers would do greater works than He did as a rationale for proclaiming their own “miracle working power.” Sadly though, we forget that Jesus considered things like forgiveness the most important part of His work. If we really want to do greater works than Jesus did, as He said we would, perhaps we ought to excel in forgiving others, not in holding grudges. Perhaps we ought to surpass others in showing God’s grace to others instead of wishing their sins to rebound against them in what other religions call “karma.” It’s time to throw out the old way, and enter the New Covenant with Jesus.
Lord, Your new way of dealing with people, and with You is so much more loving. Help me to live in Your New Covenant by showing mercy, grace, and forgiveness to all people.
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.