INI + AMEN.
What happened some 2,000 years ago in Capernaum is shocking! It was shocking back then. It didn’t go unnoticed by anyone. The pharisees noticed and grumbled. The crowd of people noticed, and they gave praise and glory to God. The paralytic noticed, too. Did we even notice why?
It’s not that the paralytic took up his mat and went home. We get hung up on that, but that’s minor compared to what Jesus said! Everyone saw the miracle, but they really took notice of what Jesus said. It was shocking! It was wonderful. More than all that: it was comforting. It still is! Still wonderful. Still shocking! Still quite noticeable. Should be, at least.
“Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
((2. What forgiveness is Jesus talking about?))
Now, what sort of forgiveness is Jesus talking about? Well, even though there’s only one forgiveness (Jesus’!), it’s not just forgiveness between two people. It’s not like the paralytic wronged Jesus in some way, and then Jesus is forgiving him. I don’t think the pharisees would’ve cared about that. Who knows? Maybe they would’ve, but certainly the crowd wouldn’t glorify God for that.
So, what is Jesus talking about: “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven”? Well, that’s full, free, from-God-Himself, Jesus-died-on-a-cross sort of forgiveness. Jesus dying for our sins, for our not paying attention to His Word, for our not giving His death a second thought. That sort of forgiveness.
He speaks that forgiveness as a man, “the Son of Man.” The miracle not only proves that Jesus can do it, but the crowd realizes the true meaning: “God had given such authority”—the authority to forgive sins—“to men.”
“Men can’t forgive sins!” “Only God can forgive sins.” (Mk 2:7) “It’s blasphemy to say men can can forgive sins.”
Lots of people think this way, but not the people from our text. Well, some of them do: the Pharisees. But not the people who glorify God for the great and precious gift that He’s given (to men!): The authority to forgive sins. After all, “St. John the Evangelist writes in Chapter 20: ‘The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.”’”
Such wonderful comfort in Jesus’ words! “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” Forgiveness delivered. Delivered through His men. We’ve got another word for that sort of forgiveness: The Absolution.
((1. What sort of restoration does it give and promise?))
Why is the Absolution so comforting? Why should it be? Well, the problem is we so often overlook it because we don’t understand our true problem. We mix up the gifts that God gives in this life—gifts He gives to even unbelievers (like healing)—and we take those over the Gifts that deliver what Jesus says we need. So, we don’t really care about the Absolution, or the comfort it gives.
But what joy in those three words! “I forgive you.” Heaven opened, your eternity changed with those words. The Word gives what it says. “Such authority to men.” Authority given to deliver forgiveness “on earth,” but a forgiveness that’s “just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself.”
Forgiveness of sins is restoration with God. Whatever fears you have, whatever doubts, whatever sins—they keep you separated from your heavenly Father. Jesus will have none of that! He died for all that—rose, too! But He delivers the restoration you need, the forgiveness you need through me to you: “I forgive you all your sins.” “Such authority to men.”
This restoration, this forgiveness is universe—eternity!—changing, but it’s also a promise of another restoration: the resurrection from the dead on the Last Day. Just as that paralytic was absolved by Jesus and then was healed, so also you: forgiven by Jesus, you, too, will rise from the dead restored, living, and glorified forever. That’s the power and lasting comfort of the absolution: the Last Day reality ahead of time for your comfort. Such joy there! “Such authority to men.” No wonder the crowd “glorified God”!
Restoration with God now. Promised eternal restoration on the Last Day. That’s what’s given and delivered in the forgiveness of sins—delivered in the Absolution. That’s right:
THE ABSOLUTION DELIVERS RESTORATION.
Yes, some will be Pharisees: “This man blasphemes. Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus didn’t let that stop Him! He forgave and resurrected that paralytic from His mat. It was shocking! It didn’t go unnoticed—not Jesus’ healing, His Word! “Such authority to men.” Such joy, there! Such comfort. The “I forgive you” of the Absolution not only delivers what it says: forgiveness of sins. “Such authority to men.” The absolution delivers the promise that on the Last Day Jesus will say to you what He said the paralytic: “Arise! Get up! Welcome home.”
There’s one Word for all of that: for forgiveness and resurrection. Restoration! It’s there in the Absolution FOR YOU. It’s true! THE ABSOLUTION DELIVERS RESTORATION TO YOU.
INI + AMEN.