Jesus said, “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . . ” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”
I Don’t Know the Answer
I still don’t know the answer to Jesus’ question. I’ve thought about it for a long time but it still stumps me. “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’”?
The reason I don’t know the answer is that I can’t do either of them.
I do not have the ability to heal someone’s paralysis. Doctors can do some amazing and wonderful things but medicine can never give me the ability to heal in the way that Jesus heals.
I do not have the ability to pay for anyone’s sins. There is no sacrifice that I could ever make that would even pay for one of my sins, let alone all the sins of another person.
While I don’t know the answer to Jesus’ question, Jesus not only knows the answer, he can do them both.
Jesus spent much of his ministry healing so that the blind received sight and the lame walked. He cured those with leprosy, made the deaf to hear, and did many, many other miracles of healing.
Jesus also spent much of his ministry telling people those most important words, “Your sins are forgiven.” He gave his life as a payment for our sins so that those words would have real meaning and authority.
Jesus is still doing both these things today. He is now in heaven but he continues to rule all things on this earth as the King of kings. He still provides healing and makes all things happen for the good of his people. He is also still forgiving our sins daily. He is near his Heavenly Father reminding him that he has paid for all our sins by his suffering and death for us.
Which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven” or “get up and walk”? I don’t know but I am certain Jesus can do both.
Father, we thank you that you sent Jesus. Help us always to trust that each day he gives us the forgiveness we need and rules all things for our good. Amen.
The Thursday and Friday devotions for the month of July focus on the Miracles of Jesus. For previous devotions in this series go here.
“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said. Then the LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.”
Ah… good times in the school cafeteria. We always had to be on our guard. One of our friends was always watching, waiting for just the right moment when your mouth was full of juice or milk and you were just about to swallow. If he timed it right and picked just the right words, his outrageous statement just might result in a burst of laughter that would cause a mini explosion. The challenge was not to laugh. If you failed… well there would be a mess to clean up and possibly even a burning sensation in your nose.
The natural tendency of just about every human being is to laugh when they hear an outrageous statement. Think about it. When someone tells you something that is just too unbelievable to be true, isn’t your natural and almost immediate response to expel some air from your mouth or maybe even release a little laughter?
That’s what happened to Sarah, the nearly 90 year-old wife of Abraham. The “outrageous” statement she heard was that she would have her first child in about one year, and she laughed to herself. Her laughter didn’t result in a mess that needed to be cleaned up, but her doubt was rebuked. The statement she heard should not have been difficult to believe because the one who made it was the Lord himself.
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Of course the answer is, “No.” Sarah got pregnant and bore a son just as the Lord stated.
There are things we hear from God that sound unbelievable, or too good to be true, but he is God. He doesn’t lie, and nothing is impossible for him.
God loves you and will always be with you. He will not allow more trouble than you can bear to enter into your life. Don’t laugh. It’s true.
Your sins, each and every one of them, have been forgiven by Jesus. Don’t laugh. It’s true.
Jesus defeated death. Through faith in him you too will rise to live forever with him. Don’t laugh. It’s true.
Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times when my initial response to your incredible promises is doubt. Grant me faith that my laughter may be the result of joy not unbelief. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away […]
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.”
In the days of Jeremiah the prophet, about 600 years before the birth of Christ, many people of God’s chosen nation had turned away from God into unbelief. They followed false teachers and bad leaders that led them into idolatry. However, there were some people who remained faithful to the true God. Through Jeremiah, God promised that he would gather all his faithful ones and bless them.
The Lord announced that glorious time: “The days are coming when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” With the word “branch,” God wants us to think of a shoot or sprout which grows out of a dying stump or from the ground where a tree stump is decaying. With this imagery, God pointed to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. His roots or ancestry were from the line of David. But by the time of his arrival, the grandeur of the Davidic kingdom had died and decayed under David’s godless successors. The Messiah, however, came to reestablish the glory of David’s throne, although not in the same way as before. Jesus Christ is a King, but his kingdom is new and different. His is a spiritual kingdom where he graciously rules in the hearts of people by faith.
God cares for his people and he saves them. He sent Jesus to do what is “just and right in the land.” In contrast to the people who rejected God and lived in disobedience to his will, Jesus lived in perfect obedience to the will of God and was guiltless of any sin. He lived this way for our benefit. God charged the perfect righteousness of his Son to us. He is: THE LORD, OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Covered with the purity of Jesus Christ, we are beautiful people in God’s eyes and blessed by faith in Jesus to be members of his glorious, eternal kingdom.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 376):
Jesus, your blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Mid flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head. Amen.
This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.
Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
“Don’t cry.” Can you think of a time when you have heard those words? It was probably at a time when you had every reason to cry.
“Don’t cry.” Jesus spoke these words to a widow who had every reason to cry. She had lost her husband. He was not only the love of her life, he was also someone who cared and provided for her. Then it was her son. As it often happens, he had probably stepped up after his father died and been a huge source of support and comfort for his grieving mother. But now, he too was being carried out of the city in a sad procession.
“When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” These words weren’t so much a command as a promise. “Don’t cry, because I am here to help.” Jesus placed his hand on the coffin and everyone stood still. Then, surprisingly, he spoke to the young man, as if he weren’t dead. “Young man, I say to you, get up!” Everyone knew that this young dead man didn’t have the power to get up. His pulse had long been gone. His heart hadn’t pumped blood through his veins for hours, maybe days. His lungs were deflated, his pupils weren’t adjusting to changing light, and the neurons in his brain had been shut down—he was dead. But when Jesus spoke, the young man sat up and began to talk!
The people knew what this meant: “God has come to help his people.” Jesus is God. The power that he displayed on that day in Nain would be exhibited for all to see when he himself rose from the dead. The sinless Son of God has power over death! Later Jesus would comfort his friend Martha saying, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).
Every day is one day closer to death. As you think about your own death, or when you feel the painful emptiness and loneliness that comes from losing a loved one, remember the power of Jesus. Remember his power over death, and his promise that he will raise from the dead all those who trust in him and give them eternal life. Remember his words to the widow of Nain and hear his voice saying, “Don’t Cry.”
Dear Lord Jesus, you alone have power over death because of your death and resurrection. Even though I may grieve here on earth, help me to remember your power and fill my heart with hope. Amen.
This month the devotions for Thursdays and Fridays will focus on the Miracles of Jesus. For previous devotions in this series, go here.
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.
A Great Faith
Everyone likes to be considered great for something. It feels good to hear someone say, “You have a great voice” or “You are a great cook” or “You are a great parent.” At what would you most like to be great?
How about being known for having a great faith? Imagine having Jesus himself say that you have a great faith. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? That is precisely what Jesus said about a Roman soldier whose servant was sick.
What made the soldier’s faith so great? First, he was humble. He recognized that he did not deserve Jesus’ help. He did not even consider himself worthy of having Jesus enter his house. He knew he was entirely dependent upon Jesus.
So are you. Everything you have and everything you are is a gift from God. The only proper way to approach him is with humility. It is the first ingredient of a great faith.
The second ingredient is trust—trust that Jesus can do whatever you ask him. The centurion trusted that Jesus could command the sickness to leave his servant just as easily as he, himself, could command soldiers to do his bidding. What a great faith!
Jesus did heal the centurion’s servant. But…what if he hadn’t? What do we do when Jesus decides not to do what we ask? Once again, we trust him. We humbly trust that he knows what is best for us. We trust his promise to always and only DO what is best for us.
May God give you the faith of that centurion—a GREAT faith.
Lord Jesus, forgive me for the times my arrogance overcomes my humility. Forgive me for the times I fail to trust that you can do all things. Forgive me for the times I fail to trust that what you choose to do in my life is best. Please Lord, grant me a great faith! Amen.
This month the devotions for Thursdays and Fridays will focus on the Miracles of Jesus.
The LORD your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The LORD will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers, if you obey the LORD your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
The Power of a Promise
Contemplate the power of a promise.
Mom and Dad promise the family that they will be taking a spring break trip to a big amusement park. They hint that good behavior is expected at home before leaving on this exciting journey.
For a while good behavior wins the day. Then the days grow long and the promised fun seems far away. The power of a promise drains away like an overused battery. Mom and Dad are disappointed, but suggest again that good behavior is expected.
Do you ever wonder if God our Father feels disappointed with all of us—the children who have been promised every good thing, but too frequently cannot sustain a life of obedience even for a day? What is the Father to do?
Does he hint at better performance on our part? Does he withdraw his blessings? No. He keeps on promising blessings. God does condemn sinners, but the fear of hell is not what drives his people to obedience. We are, rather, drawn to him by his love and his love is expressed in his promises.
He says that obedience comes from his Word and this Word when heard and believed is with us in our hearts.
In our hearts we marvel that God would send his only Son to live and die for us. The message of eternal salvation through Jesus is the crown jewel in God’s treasure store of promises and blessings.
Why could we; why should we; why would we obey our heavenly Father? His promises express his love and his love changes hearts.
God in heaven, my loving heavenly Father, in your Word I hear your promises to me and I see your love for all mankind. Lead me to love you in return through willing obedience and faithful keeping of your word because you have put it in my heart to do so. Amen.
[The Father] 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.
In 1979, a man by the name of Tony Mendez came up with a rescue plan so risky and far-fetched that, even now, it sounds like fiction. It’s not fiction, however. It’s all true.
Here’s what happened. When the American embassy in Tehran fell to an angry mob and the Iranian Hostage Crisis began, six Americans from the embassy managed to escape and hide in a couple of nearby homes. Tony Mendez worked for the US Government, and through his intelligence contacts he knew where those Americans were hiding.
He was determined to get them out, and this is what he did. He and his team posed as eccentric filmmakers who wanted to make a science fiction movie on location in Iran. As they did so, he quietly established contact with the six Americans. His plan was to make them part of his eccentric film crew. He gave them new names, along with new passports, new credentials, new backgrounds—everything they would need to walk their way past all the security checkpoints. It worked. Thanks to Tony Mendez, those six Americans proceeded right to the airport, got on a plane, and flew home to freedom—all within plain sight of hostile people. The details of their unlikely rescue did not become public knowledge for 17 years.
As strange as that true story is, you and I are part of a rescue story that’s even more unlikely. But ours is true as well. Your sin and mine had cut us off from the goodness of God. As a result, you and I were hostages in a dominion of darkness as God’s Word describes it. And left to ourselves, that’s where we would have remained—trapped, condemned, cursed by our own rebellion against God.
But God was determined to get us out, and this is what he did. He became one of us. He became one of us in the Person of Jesus Christ. On our behalf he lived the sinless life he wants us to live. In our place he endured the punishment and death we deserved for our sin. Then, through faith in our risen Savior, you and I received full forgiveness, new identities, and freedom. And the old dominion of darkness can touch us no more.
That’s a rescue story worth remembering.
Lord Jesus, you did the unthinkable in order to secure my rescue. Now I am forgiven. Now I am yours. Now I am free. Amen.