Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
This is a very interesting incident. It’s the only place I can recall where someone else’ faith was credited for forgiveness. We don’t know all the circumstances, but obviously this man had something about him that made his friends care enough to go to all the trouble they did to get him to Jesus. However, what comes to mind is what Jesus said to His disciples in the upper room after His resurrection: “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’” (John 20:21-23) There is much we don’t really understand about forgiving sin! With all that is going on in the world at large, not to mention all that is happening in each individual life, we have plenty of opportunity to learn about forgiveness by doing it. When we learn about something distant from us it is our sense of right and wrong that is invoked, and we have to decide whether to forgive or not. When it is something closer to home that impacts us personally, then it gets real and emotion is fully involved. However, there too forgiveness is a decision. I really don’t know how much authority we have in terms of forgiving distant sins, but I do know that forgiving sins against us personally is of the utmost importance. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15) There too, Jesus is our ultimate example. He had no sins to need to be forgiven, but even so, on the cross He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) When we really understand how much we’ve been forgiven, forgiving others should be a matter of course, and something we do with joy.
This of course applies to me, as it does to everyone. I feel like I forgive pretty easily, but I still catch myself resenting various things and getting upset about them. As it says in Hebrews, I need to “Fix [my] eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. [I need to] consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that [I] will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3) I’ve certainly not had anywhere near the stuff done to me that Jesus had done to Him, on any level, physical or emotional or social. He will enable me to do what He did, (John 14:12) forgiving many so that they may be brought from darkness to light, from death to life, for the glory of God.
Father, I still don’t fully understand forgiveness, but help me be an instrument of Your forgiveness to many, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!