Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Being Christ-like - The Priority of Forgiveness

Luke 5:20 - And when he saw their faith, he said to him, "Man, your sins are forgiven."

Over the last several posts, we have looked at how we can be more Christ-like by examining how Christ lived his life on earth. We have looked at how he set his priority on his devotion to the Father, to his mission, and to the message. Today we are going to look at Jesus' priority of forgiveness.

In Luke 5:17-25 is the story of Jesus healing the paralytic. This passage takes place during one of Jesus' teaching sessions. Some of the people in crowd were Pharisees and teachers of the law, all who were known to be opponents of Jesus' ministry, though this is their first mention with Jesus in Luke's gospel. However, while he was teaching, some men brought in a paralytic. Normal access to Jesus was blocked due to the crowd, so the men went and made a hole through the roof top and lowered the man down right where Jesus was teaching. Immediately, Jesus recognizes the faith of the friends and he responds. He addresses the paralytic and tells him that his sins are forgiven. At this point, the man remains paralyzed. Therefore, I am sure there are several people in the room who are looking at Jesus with a curious expression on their faces: the man, his friends, the witnesses. The Pharisees and scribes begin to believe that Jesus is speaking blaspheme because only God alone can forgive sin. Jesus answers their thoughts with a riddle. He asks them, which is easier to say, "your sins are forgiven" or "get up and walk". The answer would be, "your sins are forgiven" because that is something that cannot be proven. He then gives them the reason for what he is about to do next. In verse 24 he states, "But that you may know that the Son of Man has the power on earth to forgive sins." Jesus then looks that the paralytic man and tells him to arise, take up his mat, and go to his house, to which the man immediately responds.

This episode gives illustration that Jesus' priority is on forgiveness of sins. The reason why the people brought the man to Jesus was not because of his sins. However, Jesus saw sin to be his most important need and addressed it first. The man, by faith, came to Jesus, and as a result, his sins were forgiven, an act that only God can do. This act showed Jesus' authority as God.

Jesus also teaches us about the priority of forgiveness in Christian fellowship. He gives us the command to forgive others (Colossians 3:13). He also gives us the responsibility that if we are in need of forgiveness, we are to seek that from the person we have harmed (Matthew 5:22-24).

How does forgiveness rank in your list of priorities? Do you tend to hold grudges and stay embittered? Or, are you on the other side, where you cause hurt without ever recognizing the consequences? Part of forgiveness is both asking of it when you offend others and giving it to those who offend you.

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