How can he for­give sins?

Westside Eagle-Observer - - OPINION - [De­vo­tion by Randy Moll. Scrip­ture quo­ta­tions are from the King James Ver­sion of the Bi­ble.]

“And, be­hold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, ly­ing on a bed: and Je­sus see­ing their faith said unto the man sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be for­given thee.” Matthew 9:2 (Read v. 1-8)

In pri­vate con­fes­sion and ab­so­lu­tion, and each Sun­day in cor­po­rate wor­ship, sin­ners con­fess their sins to the Lord God and look to Christ Je­sus and His cross in faith for the for­give­ness of sins; and the pas­tor an­nounces unto them the grace of God and, in the stead and by the com­mand of our Lord Je­sus Christ, for­gives the sins of pen­i­tent sin­ners. “But who can for­give sins but God alone?” some may ask.

This is what the scribes asked within them­selves when Je­sus for­gave the sins of a man, sick of the palsy. They thought Je­sus was guilty of blas­phemy be­cause He, see­ing the faith of this par­a­lyzed man and his friends, said to the man, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be for­given thee.”

Of course, any­one can say the words but, if one lacks the author­ity to for­give sins, those words are but a de­cep­tion, a lie, a sham. But Je­sus proved His author­ity to for­give sins. He said, “Whether is eas­ier, to say, Thy sins be for­given thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to for­give sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.”

And, what hap­pened? The par­a­lyzed man “arose, and de­parted to his house.” Je­sus proved His author­ity to for­give sins, and He proved that His words to this man were in­deed true. This man’s sins were for­given! He could de­part in peace.

And what about the words of your pas­tor when he hears your con­fes­sion and points you to Christ Je­sus and His in­no­cent suf­fer­ings and death on the cross for the sins of the world — when he tells you to “go in peace; your sins are for­given you”?

He may not be able to heal the sick or raise the dead; but Je­sus did, and it is Je­sus who com­mands him to preach “re­pen­tance and re­mis­sion of sins” in Christ’s name (Luke 24:47). It is Je­sus who com­mands His dis­ci­ples and His pas­tors to for­give the sins of pen­i­tent sin­ners and to re­tain the sins of the im­pen­i­tent as long as they do not re­pent ( John 20:22-23). It is Je­sus who said, “What­so­ever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and what­so­ever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18).

And no­tice that pas­tors do not for­give — or bap­tize, or ad­min­is­ter the Lord’s Supper, or preach — in their own name and by their own author­ity. Rather, it is “in the stead and by the com­mand” of our Lord Je­sus Christ. Je­sus healed the par­a­lyzed man, prov­ing His author­ity to for­give sins. Je­sus even rose from the dead, prov­ing the suf­fi­ciency of His sacri­fice on the cross to sat­isfy God’s just wrath against all sins (cf. Ro­mans 4:23-25; 1 Corinthi­ans 15:1ff.; John 1:29). Cer­tainly, He who paid for our sins with His blood and then rose again from the dead on the third day has the author­ity to for­give the sins of all who look to Him in faith.

So, when you con­fess your sins to God — whether in cor­po­rate wor­ship or in pri­vate con­fes­sion — and the pas­tor, based on your con­fes­sion and your pro­fes­sion of faith in Christ Je­sus, an­nounces unto you the grace of God and pro­claims to you that your sins are for­given for Christ’s sake, you can de­part in peace, in good cheer, for in­deed your sins are for­given by the Lord Je­sus Him­self — He has the author­ity to for­give sins! (Cf. Luther’s Small Cat­e­chism on Con­fes­sion.)

O gra­cious and mer­ci­ful God, for­give our sins for Je­sus’ sake and grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may be­lieve and re­joice in the par­don and for­give­ness won for us by our Lord Je­sus Christ and promised and as­sured to us in Your ab­so­lu­tion spo­ken by the pas­tor. In Je­sus name, we pray. Amen.

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