Walking in Forgiveness


Since they grumble about Him healing a man on the Sabbath, Jesus asks the religious leaders, "Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?" (Matt. 9:5) He asks these men who find it easier to physically walk than walk in forgiveness, whether it's easier to walk in forgiveness or to walk physically. Is it easier to forgive a man's selfishness, or to heal a man's useless legs? The man's useless legs can be made of use to him again. But, for how long? How long until strength abandons him? How long until sinew, ligaments, and muscle wither? How long until his bones collapse? How long until his legs are of no use to him again?

When his legs are of no use to him again, does that also mean God is of no use to him? When strength abandons him, does that mean God has abandoned him? When sinew, ligaments, and muscle whither, does that mean God's grace has also withered? When his bones collapse and his legs are of no use to him again, does that mean God's love for him has collapsed?

It may seem easier to walk today than to walk in forgiveness, but Jesus' forgiveness will not abandon us. That's the purpose of Jesus healing the man. The man goes away a walking parable of grace and forgiveness. The man's legs will eventually become useless to him again, but Jesus' forgiveness will not wither away. Jesus' forgiveness will not collapse. Jesus' forgiveness will take us places our legs can't take us. Jesus' forgiveness opens up the future to all sorts of possibilities beyond just the physical benefits of useful legs.

Jesus’ forgiveness will not collapse. Jesus’ forgiveness will take us places our legs can’t take us.
— Donavon Riley

More than just the physical benefits, Jesus' forgiveness means that God's judgment can't harm us, sin can't hurt us, and death can't harass us because that's the power of these four words, "Your sins are forgiven" when they come from Jesus.

Instead of judgment, we are baptized into Jesus' death. In Baptism, we are placed into the tomb with Him so that just as Christ was brought back from death to life (by the glorious power of the Father) we too may live a new kind of life. Instead of sin, the person we used to be is crucified with Jesus to put an end to sin in our bodies. Because of this, we're no longer slaves to sin. Instead of death, we can consider ourselves dead to sin’s power but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

This is so important to God that He organizes everything in the Church so we can daily walk in the forgiveness of sin given to us through His words, and the water, and the bread and wine. They’re given to us to comfort and encourage us as long as we live. So, even though we may suffer the consequences of sin, Jesus doesn't allow them to injure us, because we're in the Christian Church, where we walk in continuous, uninterrupted forgiveness of sin, both Jesus' forgiveness and that we forgive, walk with, and help each other.

Through the forgiveness of our sin, Jesus continues His work in us and daily delivers forgiveness to us, until He raises us to that life where there will be no more forgiveness, but only people who are holy and whole in mind, body, and soul; free from sin, death, and all evil; in a new, undying, and glorious body.

It may seem easier to walk today than to walk in forgiveness, but today we're brought again by Him into His body, made members of the communion of saints, the Christian Church through the forgiveness of our sins. We're brought by Jesus to hear the Good News that "your sins are forgiven." Jesus brings us into the Christian Church to hear "Your sins are forgiven." He brings us into the Church to receive comfort about the resurrection of the body and hope for life everlasting because that's the power of these four words, "Your sins are forgiven" when they come from Jesus. Four words, "Your sins are forgiven," given and shed for us today, and always.

Donavon Riley is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author, Online Content Manager for Higher Things, a contributing writer for 1517, Christ Hold Fast, and LOGIA. He is also the co-host of The Banned Books podcast and the As Lutheran As It Gets podcast.