Thursday, December 9, 2010

Saving and Sustaining Grace

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, "Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—he said to the paralytic— "I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home." And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!" (Mark 2:1-12)

I thought about this story recently, not just this story but as I've been reading the gospels I've noticed in many cases Jesus forgiving sins and also healing physical illness. I wanted to just focus in on a couple of things mentioned in this account in Mark 2. Jesus says two crucial things to the paralytic that I believe he says to each one of his children:

1. Your sins are forgiven
2. Rise, pick up your bed, and go home

I think these two statements from Jesus really reflect the life of a believer. When Jesus says "Your sins are forgiven" we should instantly be reminded of our justification. This is where God declares righteous through the death of Jesus Christ. At this moment we are in right standing before God because of the blood of his Son. "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:1-2).

The second statement ought to remind us of our sanctification. The picture is easier to see in justification because the paralytic was unable to physically rise and walk apart from Christ's physical healing of the man just like we are unable to spiritually rise and walk apart from God's intervening. But sanctification is the process that begins in the believers life at justification. Both are done in the power and strength that God supplies in a life. He does not only justify us but he most certainly also sanctifies us as well. He does not leave us to fight this battle against the forces of darkness alone. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling but this comes through the power of the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus tells the paralytic to "Rise, pick up your bed, and go home" we should instantly be reminded that Christ is working that same power within us as walk in this world. We want to be lights for his glory. Can you imagine if Jesus had said, "Rise, take up your bed, and go home" and he just laid there and never got up? NO!! I can't imagine it because when the Savior has forgiven us of our sins the only response to forgiveness is to go and show the world the change in our lives. I'm not saying this story is some allegory of our Christian faith but once again it is a reminder of God's grace through an actual historic event.

Look at his testimony: "And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, 'We never saw anything like this!'" He did not waste any time but rather rose immediately and went on his way before all the people. He was not trying to bring attention to himself or puff up his own ego. How could he do such a thing when all the people knew he could do nothing in and of himself and he knew that reality as well. The only response to a change like this is amazement and glory to God. The man who was completely healed, physically and spiritually, did nothing more than obey the command of his Savior with great joy. This is the testimony of each believer: Your sins are forgiven, rise and go.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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