“THY SINS BE FORGIVEN THEE”
Saint Matthew 9. 1-8
19th Sunday after Trinity: 26 October Anno + Domini 2014
Fr Jay Watson SSP
In The + Name of Jesus
“O almighty and most merciful God, of Thy bountiful goodness keep us we beseech Thee, from all things that may hurt us…”
But does He?
Did He protect all of us from cancer, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, Lyme and Guillain Barre?
And even if you may be in a temporary remission or surcease of painful symptoms, how long will it last?
Did He protect you and your parents? Did your Father die from a heart attack or congestive heart disease? Did you Mother succumb to emphysema or stroke?
There might appear to be little “Law” in Saint Matthews account of Christ’s visit to Capernaum but it’s there. The Law is to obey God above all things and to love the neighbor perfectly. Everyone, save the Lord, in that ship, in that city, in that house…in this world…in this parish…breaks the Law daily! Adam broke it and infected everyone with a 100% infectious rate and 100% kill rate. Ebola is a skinned knee compared to original sin and its symptomatic daily trespasses!
The Second Person of The Godhead didn’t just enter a ship to pass over to His own city but He entered the womb of the Virgin by the same wind of the Spirit to pass from heaven to earth. It is with His incarnate/enfleshed Body that he rescues of all His lost lambs in this broken and dying city. That’s why He is here right now in this ship, this “nave;” for you are all sick of the palsy.
But you don’t love God any more completely than they did. And you don’t love your neighbor—to you they’re either scribes or Pharisees—either protestants or Romanists…Jews, pagans, Mexicans, queers, or the worst possible (according to most lcms-types) “liberal Democrats.” Repent! “Put off concerning the former conversation the old man, corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” You are the Pharisee; you are the Scribe. Repent! “Putting away lying speak every man truth with his neighbor for we are members one of another.” For the same Law that we all break is the reason the world is broken. Repent! “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath…working with hands the thing which is good, that [you] may have to give him that needeth.” The same Law we don’t keep is the reason there are men “sick of the palsy” and babies dead in cribs, and parents lost in the heart-breaking maze of Alzheimer’s. The sin, the Law breaking, is in not believing. A man may curse, swear, lie, use witchcraft and even blaspheme (like Paul/Saul did)…but denying The Christ is God puts one outside the sheepfold of faith; the New Testament Garden of Grace.
To be sure it is sinful to be angry with Jesus for not treating your medical condition the way He treated the unknown palsied man. It is sinful to “hold it” against the Lord that your parents, children, spouse, or siblings were taken before you thought they should have been. But this text is not about physical miracles of healing here and now…for there weren’t all that many then (considering the world’s population in 30 A.D.) and there are not many now. The events in Capernaum then and at this altar, font, and pulpit today, are about Grace through Faith giving you the God/Man Christ so that you will have your sins washed away once again and marvel of His Mercy and glorify God for the promised reward in heaven.
This is life under the cross—to believe in Jesus’ love for you even when all you see sometimes, maybe daily, is suffering, injustice, squalor, depression, pain, decay and tragic death. Does Jesus blaspheme or not? Does Jesus blaspheme when He says “you are baptized in the Name of the Father and of The Son + and of The Holy Ghost?” Does Jesus blaspheme when He says “I forgive you all your sins?” Does He blaspheme when He says “take eat This IS My Body; take drink This IS My Blood—given for you and shed for you for the remission of sins?” Does He blaspheme when He says “where two or three are gathered there Am I (I AM) in the midst of you,” and “lo I AM with you till the end of the age,” or “in the world ye shall have tribulation; [cancer, heart disease, dying parents, lost children, blindness, lameness, and uncounted sorrows] but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” The world of sin, death and Satan was overcome but not by power and glory but by suffering and death…by a bloody victim nailed to a tree!
Jesus enters the ship of Augsburg and comes to His own city—the House of the living God. Jesus has His Holy Spirit carry all men and women sick of the palsy of sin to His presence. Jesus laid down on the bed of the crucifix and became palsy for you and in your stead—became a cripple, became bearer of all the evil in the hearts of the scribes and in our hearts, that He might speak absolution to you: “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee!”
In The Name of The Father and of +The Son and of The Holy Ghost