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Wednesday of Lent 2 "C"

March 7, 2007

Lenten Vespers                          Trinity Lutheran Church
7 March 2007                              Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

St. Mark 2:1-12

Where there is forgiveness of sins there is life and salvation.  Don’t believe that?  Well then, ask the man who couldn’t walk.  He’ll tell you. 

Four friends carry him to church. The Lord Jesus is doing the divine service.  It’s His show.  He preaches.  Words proclaimed from the mouth of the One who created the heavens and the earth.  And you know what happens when the Lord speaks.  Let there be light – and there was and is.  And now in the house church of Jesus more words that do and give what they say from His mouth.

Can’t get their crippled friend in through a door or window. Crammed full of people.  Jam packed. Like sardines in a can. Up to the roof then.  Got a Sawzall?  Away they go.   Ripping off the shingles.  Sawing through the plywood.  Dropping their friend down through the roof.  Right in front of preacher Jesus. 

Someone better call the police.  What nerve!  What gall!  But Jesus sees faith.  The faith of the four.  Faith in Him.  And then He speaks.  “My son, your sins are forgiven.”   Holy Absolution. 

Not a pious wish.  “Well, I sure hope your sins are forgiven.”  Or “Someday they might be forgiven.”  No.  His words do what they say.  Jesus says he’s forgiven and he is.  His words give what they say.  “Your sins are forgiven.”  All said and done through the mouth of Jesus into the ears of the paralytic.  He is forgiven.  The ringing out voice of God from heaven absolution is heard from the lips of Jesus Himself. 

You’d think there’d be great joy.  But not with some.  They’re offended.  Outraged.  “Who does this Jesus think he is?  God?!!!  Blasphemy!!!!  Only God can forgive sins!”  That’s true.  Of course, only God can forgive sins.  And He does.  The God of heaven stands right before their very eyes.  Remember, He’s the One doing the divine service. 

So what should Jesus do?  Apologize because He’s given offense?  Take the absolution back because some are scandalized by His humanity?  No.  He does what the Father’s authorized Him to say and give.  He lets the absolution stand.  In all its outrage and scandal.  His Word of Absolution does not return to Him void.  He speaks it.  It does the job He speaks:  forgiveness.  “My son, your sins are forgiven.”  

Yes, only God can forgive.  And He does.  Way down here on the earth in the flesh of His Son.  Through His Son’s mouth into the paralytic’s ears. 

And into yours.  He still speaks.  The same Word of Absolution.  In the church.  Through His called and ordained ministers of the Word.  He’s still doing the divine service.  That’s why we receive the Absolution from the pastor as from God Himself.  In the Absolution Jesus Himself is speaking to you.  Doing and giving what He says.  The Absolution is the living voice of Jesus. 

What joy!  The free forgiveness of sins spoken and given by the Lord Himself in the absolution is the Gospel.  No wonder our beloved Lutheran Church officially states:  “We also keep confession, especially because of the absolution, which is the Word of God that the power of the keys proclaims to individuals by divine authority.  It would therefore be wicked to remove private absolution from the church” (Apology XI, “Confession and Satisfaction,” Tappert, 197:99-100).  Absolution, the voice of the Gospel, is the heart and core of confession.  Forgiveness, the Gospel, God’s living Word, is everything.  The Absolution is Christ’s word.  And Christ’s words “are Spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).  Where there is forgiveness of sins there truly is life and salvation.   

So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins Jesus tells the paralytic:  “Get up.  Pick up your bed.  Walk.”   As with the absolution, so with the healing.  Christ’s Word does and gives what it says.  The forgiven man can walk. 

God redeems not only the soul but also body.  Forgiveness is for both.  For cleansing.  The Lord’s absolving Word gives you what He gave His life for:  salvation.  To receive the absolution is to receive Jesus and everything He is for you.  Jesus is life.  To be forgiven is to be given life, the life of Jesus who is the Life.  The Absolution He speaks into your ears and hearts will carry you through this life until life eternal – from ashes to ashes – from dust to dust – through death and the grave to the resurrection of the body and heaven. 

That’s just the way you confess it in the Creed:  “I believe in . . . the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”  That’s where the Absolution takes you.  It carries you all the way through the cemetery to the resurrection of the body and eternal life in heaven. 

“So, if there is a heart that feels its sin and desires consolation, it has here [in the Absolution] a sure refuge when it hears God’s Word that through a man God looses and absolves him from his sins” (Large Catechism V:14, Tappert). 

You’re free to walk to your pastor for this wonderful gift.  Or maybe some of your friends could carry you.  You certainly won’t have to tear the roof off the church.  Just walk right in or make an appointment.  We praise the Lord Jesus who has authority on earth to forgive sins.  And He does:  in the Absolution where there is also life and salvation. 

In the Name of Jesus.

From → Sermons

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