Reading: Luke 5.17-26
One day, while Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralysed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, ‘Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ – he said to the one who was paralysed – ‘I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.’ Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’Luke 5.17-26 NRSV
Jesus asked: Which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven you”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”?
Today’s reading comes immediately before Jesus calls the tax-collector Levi into a life of discipleship. In the next chapter of Luke’s gospel we read of Jesus naming his twelve apostles, those to be sent out in his name. Then will come the moment when Jesus will give the twelve power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. In between these important milestones Jesus preaches, teaches and heals. All of these events lead us to the moment in our pilgrimage of faith where we are called to take the mantle of Christ-like behaviour upon our own shoulders as we, in faith, live and preach the Good News and help others to know the love, light and joy of Jesus in their daily lives.
In today’s reading we find ourselves being asked a question that was originally asked of the scribes and the Pharisees. This question appears, on the surface, to have only one logical answer: it is easier to say: Your sins are forgiven. But, is the mere utterance of those words sufficient?
People struggle with the challenge of forgiveness. We know that that is our Christian calling, but … ! Too often we speak of ‘red lines’ beyond which there can be no hope of forgiveness or reconciliation. Those arbitrary ‘red lines’ are the source of so much conflict in this world, and they remove any chance of our bringing healing into the lives of others.
Jesus empowered his disciples, and us, to be his representatives in this challenging world. Having been entrusted with such authority we need to reflect upon the example we can set as we forgive in Christ’s name. If we can bring ourselves to forgive in a spirit of Christian humility we will see something else happen … we will see people liberated as they see the light and life of Christ. We will see people stand up and walk away from that which disfigures their lives.
Lord, help us to forgive;
help us to share your love and light;
help us to bring others to know your healing touch.