March 9, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Mark 2:1-12 (ESV)

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

In this passage, Jesus gives the crowd physical evidence of His spiritual authority to forgive sin.  But in order to prove to the religious leaders and skeptics that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sin, He commands the paralyzed man to rise up and pick up his mat.  From man’s perspective, we would conclude that it is far more difficult to command a physical healing, because you can’t prove if someone’s sins are forgiven.  However, from God’s perspective, the forgiveness of sin comes at a far greater price and is a much more difficult thing—something only God can do.

The physical healing, in this case, is a sign and evidence of the spiritual healing.  I realize that not all cases of divine forgiveness are going to be evidenced by such a dramatic sign, but, at the same time, I do believe that there should be at least some sort of physical evidence.  It seems impossible to receive true forgiveness and not walk in greater joy, deeper conviction of sin, and heartfelt love for Christ.  The very words of Jesus teach us that those who have been forgiven much, love much.

We dare not become like these scribes who doubted and questioned whether or not Jesus has the authority to forgive sin.  The world is okay with Christianity—as long as we stay within the boundary of our own morals and ethics.  Some years ago, I was talking with a co-worker about Buddhism; he was sharing with me about man’s need to love one another, and how we should be kind to those who are our enemies. I was thinking how much this sounds like the Sermon on the Mount; and it seemed so tempting to believe that both Christianity and Buddhism are both valid expressions of faith based on their ethical teaching.  However, the fundamental difference between these world religions is that Buddha came to provide enlightenment, whereas Christ came with the authority to forgive sin.  Anyone can offer you enlightenment—you just have to be an insightful teacher—but only God can forgive sin.  Of all the leaders of the world religions, only Christ claimed the power to forgive our sins; and He proved it not only through this miracle but through His death and resurrection.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for bearing our sin on the cross.  By the power of Your resurrection, we believe that all our sins have been forgiven and that we no longer have to live in guilt and shame.  Teach us how to live in the freedom that You purchased for us and to walk in Your forgiveness, forgiving others as You have forgiven us.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Judges 1


Lunch Break Study

1 John 1:5-10(ESV)

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does it mean to walk in darkness?
  2. What does it mean to walk in the light?
  3. Why is it a matter of justice for God to forgive our sins as we confess?

Notes

  1. In the apostle John’s writings, darkness goes beyond matters of morality and ethics but refers to the condition of death that sin causes. Therefore, walking in darkness is a state where there is no sensitivity or guilt in connection to sin.  Those who say that they have no sin are prime examples of those who are walking in darkness.  People who sin continually with no remorse or thought of repentance should also be considered to be walking in darkness, because their hearts have not been made alive to the reality of sin.
  2. In contrast, walking in the light simply means walking in the fullness of life that has been secured by Christ. As John writes in his Gospel, Christ is the source of life and that life is the light of men.  Those who walk in this light are being cleansed of their sin by the blood of Jesus.  In other words, this light overcomes the sin in our lives by causing us to be sensitive and repentant over these wrongs.
  3. We usually equate justice with judgment and punishment, not with the forgiveness of sin. But God operates on the principle of double jeopardy— meaning, once the penalty for sin has been paid, it would be an injustice to exact a second payment for that sin.  In a manner of speaking, once Christ paid for our sin on the cross, God limited Himself so that the only choice He has in response to our confession of sin is to forgive us freely.

Evening Reflection

Have you confessed your sins today and experienced His forgiveness?  Have you considered how sin robs us of the fullness of life that God intends for us?  Meditate on what it means to walk in the light, and how you can live more fully in that light.

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