First Sunday after Michaelmas – Pr. Anderson sermon
St. Matthew 9:1-8 “Your Sins are Forgiven by Christ Jesus”
October 1, 2023 | Christ Lutheran Church
In Nomine Iesu
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Hear us, O Lord, as we come to You burdened with our guilt, and bow in faith at Your feet. Speak to us Your word of absolution; say to our souls, “Your sins be forgiven You”; that with good courage we may rise up and go forth to serve You, now and all our days, to the glory of Your holy name. Amen. (Parish Prayers, ed. Frank Colquhoun, p. 125)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)
The sermon text for today is taken from the 9th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. We read selected verses in Jesus’ name:
But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home.
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth. Amen. (Joh. 17:17)
In Christ Jesus, who takes your burdens that you lay at His feet, comforting you, forgiving you of your sins, dear fellow redeemed:
When Jesus does miracles, like in our text, we see the crowds being amazed at what Jesus is doing. He is saving those who look as if their life is over. Scripture records many of Jesus’ miracles as He is healing the eyes of the blind, those who can’t speak, sending out demons, and here in our test Jesus has a paralytic man brought down to Him. For some, it might be hard to hear the wonderful works of Jesus, especially if someone is struggling with some kind of physical ailment. Is it even possible for a miracle of healing to happen today? Thankfully, Jesus is aware of our problems even if we think that He is not. As He may heal our physical ailments, this text brings comfort with spiritual cleansing, as your sins are forgiven by Christ Jesus.
As Jesus brings the world the important gift of forgiveness, it must have been difficult to head home and still have a crowd coming to see and hear you. How often would we say, “Could you all please give me a break.” “I’m tired of ministering to you.” In our text we see how Jesus is always going to serve others. He is going to help those who are in need. That is why He is here, to save all of mankind. It doesn’t matter if He is out in a desolate place, or He is at home. He is going to be a servant to all. Just as Jesus continues to serve, we see in our text that there are others who are not going to give up on their job. And behold, some people brought to Him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Take heart, My son; your sins are forgiven.” Another Gospel writer writes how these helpers had to drop the man in through a hole they cut into the ceiling. They want their friend to be healed by the only one who can heal him.
Jesus is the only one who can heal this man because He is true God. Many are not going to believe this fact as the truth. Jesus has a lot of enemies who will not acknowledge Him as God. We see these two kinds of people. We see those who have faith in Jesus. They look at the man who is paralyzed and they want him to receive help. They believe that Jesus is able to help him. The other group of people does not have faith in Jesus. They will do everything they can to discredit Him. They will lie about the miracles He does saying that He is possessed. In our text, they call Jesus a blasphemer.
And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? This is what sets Jesus apart from the world. The world wants to call Jesus a fraud. Jesus points out that He is not just a man. He knows what the scribes are thinking. He knows the evil in their hearts. This points out the hard truth to us here as well. Jesus knows our thoughts. He knows the evil that we have in our hearts. He sees all of the sins that we commit. We will do all that we can to deny this fact. We can think to ourselves that “we aren’t too bad. We aren’t completely full of evil in our hearts, right?” We don’t want to be told that we are evil. Yet God tells us that, “They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3).
If no one does good, if we are all corrupt, you might be wondering then what is the point? Why go on living? The point is
realizing that at times we can be like those scribes and think evil on others. There may also be times where we think that the problems in our lives are too great for even Jesus to heal. We are just going to stay paralyzed on that bed. When we recognize and realize that we are sinners, then the point is that we go to the only source of comfort that we have in this life. We take our evil sins and our paralyzing problems to the Man who is true God and we lay them at His feet.
That is what they did with their friend. They took the man, and laid him down in front of Jesus. And Jesus not only sees that this man is paralyzed, Jesus reads his heart and sees the sins that are bugging this man to his core. And Jesus being the Son of God sent to take away the sins of the world says to the man, “Take heart, My son; your sins are forgiven.” This is the mercy of God. It is not the fact that Jesus can do miracles and cure this man of his physical problems. The fact is God wants to save the souls of sinners. This man acknowledges that He is a sinner. He has done many things wrong. Jesus gives him comfort telling the man that he is His child and that his sins are forgiven because He is His Redeemer.
Our sins can only be forgiven if God has mercy. We see how much God loved the world, just as much as the people in our text are witnessed it. They are seeing how God kept His promises and that their sins are forgiven in Christ Jesus. In His entire ministry Jesus gives the people this saving truth. He is the promised Messiah; He is the Son of God who has come to restore their relationship with God. He forgives their sins.
Jesus tells you this too. He knows all of your sins, there is no hiding this from Him. He knows the burdens that they place on you. Like the man, He also can read your hearts. He knows when you are penitent. As Jesus reminds this man of the promises of God, He reminds you too. God in His mercy tells each and every one of you that because of Christ’s perfect life and innocent death on the cross, your sins are forgiven. If you are not sure that Jesus can do this, then look once more in the text. Jesus makes it clear to all that what He says is true. “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. Jesus proves that He is the Son of God, that He has authority to forgive sins by doing a miracle. The man is able to walk. Jesus does a miracle for you too. You are able to stand up and walk justified before God because of faith in your Savior who forgives you of all of your sins.
What a ring in the ears to hear that your sins are forgiven by Christ Jesus. You get to hear these sweet words from your pastor every week. You start the service as our text starts. You come to worship, bringing all of the troubles that you have, all of the pain from your sins, and you lay them out before Christ. Then you hear your Savior through the pastor when he tells you that your sins are forgiven. Unfortunately the world doesn’t hear this news of Jesus forgiving their sins. And many are like the scribes who think Jesus is a fraud. That He blasphemes and He isn’t God. Some might have those same thoughts, can Jesus forgive my sins? Jesus has not forgotten them. God says, “I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:22). The world has not been abandoned. You have not been abandoned. Our text says, “He saw their faith.” God knows your hearts. You can find your rest as you stand justified, declared not guilty before God.
To be able to stand before God justified is a great gift that we do not deserve. We know this is the case as our sins torment us. We could hang on to them, or we put them on Christ. He has not forgotten us and He continues to do miracles. He brings us to faith in Him. He takes the sins that we have committed and confessed before God and washed them away by His blood, shed on the cross. He does the miracle that causes us to stand. We have been spiritually healed by Christ and when He calls us to our heavenly home, our bodies will be perfect forever. Your life is not over, miracles still happen, He sees your faith, and you can take heart, your sins are forgiven. Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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