Sermon on 6th Sunday Matthew 9:1-8 2023/07/16 Osaka Church
In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit
In today’s Gospel, a bedridden man with a paralytic was told by the Lord Jesus, “Your sins are forgiven” and yet He commanded him, “Arise, take up the bed and go home”. The man got up in the midst of the crowd’s groaning and began to walk, carrying the bed as he had been told.
The man was suffering from sin. The state of the man – bedridden; a paralytic – symbolized that he was in the midst of a storm of self-punishment and, at times, its reverse, uncontrollable anger, and that he had lost his way out and was only deepening his suffering. Then the Lord’s call rang out. “Stand firm, your sins are forgiven.” In other words, “come to your senses”. From what? From a closed, hardened heart that sees nothing but guilt and its flip side, unfocused hatred. You have been forgiven, so receive forgiveness, the Lord said “come to your senses”.
A miracle happened. The man received forgiveness. The fact that he got up and started walking was a testimony that he had finally received forgiveness.
I use the word “miracle”. Truly, this is a miracle. It is not a miracle because Christ wielded God’s almighty power to heal the man’s illness and to make him get up. It is a miracle because the man wholeheartedly believed Jesus and received forgiveness from God.
When a man makes a mistake, even if people generously forgive him, he himself does not forgive his own mistake, his own sin. Other people sigh at such a person, saying that he is too serious.
Many people, even those who “believe” that God, not man, has forgiven them through His death on the cross and live by that faith, cannot escape this web of self-punishment. There are those who lament thinking, “I don’t deserve God’s forgiveness. I don’t deserve to be forgiven by God”. Those who saw such people also say, “Oh, how humble he is!
”Wait!! It’s not true.” Don’t you hear Jesus’ words? The authority to forgive or not to forgive others, whether others or ourselves, belongs to God. The Pharisees chided Jesus for “blaspheming” when he told them in today’s gospel that “your sins are forgiven. They are not wrong. They just didn’t understand that Christ was God. If a person says he will not forgive himself when the One who is God says He will, he is making himself God. There is no greater sin than this.
If we are truly repentant of our sins, we must first repent of our arrogance in refusing to forgive ourselves even though God has forgiven us. This arrogance is an extreme form of human arrogance. We have made ourselves into a god who has the authority to decide whether or not we should be forgiven.
And it is the deepest rooted human disease.
Know it first and pray about it.
There may be various degrees of guilt, from a small obsession to heavy remorse, but whatever it is, persisting in it corrupts a person. So let us pray. May the same miracle happen to us that happened to the man – the paralytic.