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Mark 2:1-12

 
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, "My 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!" (ESV)

The Highest Faith

Easter Tuesday

29 March 2019

The highest faith believes that God is gracious against all feeling and experience. Confidence in forgiveness is easy when we feel God's mercy and grace. Honestly, however, we seldom actually feel this way because our consciences are timid, our flesh oppresses us, and the devil is prowling about seeking whom he may devour. Indeed, God often hides Himself from our view, taking away the external props upon which we lean for signs of God's mercy toward us. This hiddenness of God also demands faith of us; faith that is hope in things unseen and even un-experienced.
 
Certainly, there are times when we feel the forgiving grace of God, at these times we utter the petition "Forgive us our trespasses," with a sigh of quiet confidence. But more often we are forced by God to believe and have confidence in the forgiveness of sins separate and apart from our feeling and experience. The burdens of sin that we feel in ourselves force us to cast ourselves upon the mercy of God, which is more powerful than anything we feel or experience (1Jn 3:19-21).
 
The forgiveness we do not feel demands a more radical and daring faith. It demands the faith that looks not upon ourselves, but beholds the God hidden under the signs of the cross and suffering. This faith looks into the eyes of the Suffering Servant as the light of life is flickering out and sees the light in which we see light. This faith looks upon the cross as the shadow of death passes over and sees nothing but the brilliant light of the Son given for us. Only the Holy Spirit can teach us to see this Son and His forgiveness in the dark. Only the Holy Spirit can teach the highest faith. 

 

Martin Luther

"God is well-disposed toward many people, forgiving with all his heart all their trespasses, yet without telling them of this. Instead, this inner and external treatment of them leads them to believe that they have a very ungracious God who is determined to condemn them here in time and also in eternity. Outwardly he torments them, inwardly he terrifies them. One of these was David, when he exclaimed in Psalm 6, 'O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger.' (Ps 6:1).
 
"On the other hand, God secretly retains the sins of others and is really angry with them, but keeps them in ignorance of this. He treats them in such a way that they believe that they are his dear children. Outwardly they are well off, inwardly they are happy and sure of heaven. These are described in Psalm 10, ' shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.' (Ps 10:6). Thus God occasionally allows comfort to come to the conscience and fills man with cheerful confidence in his mercy to strengthen and inspire him with hope in God even in times when his conscience is fearful. On the other hand, God at times saddens and terrifies a conscience so that even in happy days a man will not forget the fear of God.
 
"The first mode of forgiveness is bitter and hard for us, but it is the one most sublime and precious. The second is easier for us, but not as good. Christ shows us both types in Mary Magdalene-the first when he turns his back on her and remarks to Simon that her many sins are forgiven her (Lk 7:47). In that moment she does not yet feel the peace of conscience. He shows the second type when he turns to her and says that her sins are remitted and that she should go in peace (Lk 7:50). Now she is at peace. The first renders a person pure; the second confers peace. The first effects and conveys, the second rests and receives. There is a vast difference between the two. The first is only believed and deserves much; the second is felt and gathers in the reward. The first is applied to the strong in faith, the other to the weak, to the beginners in the faith."

Martin Luther, An Exposition of the Lord's Prayer for Simple Laymen, 5
 
Prayer
Our Father, send Your Holy Spirit to me that I might always look upon the face of your Son on the cross as the Sun of righteousness. Keep me from being offended by His weakness and suffering. Let me see by faith the Light through which I might see light. Rescue me from the self-centeredness that focuses on my own feeling and experience, that I might only trust Your forgiveness of my sins. Amen.
 
For Alex Graf and the faculty of Memorial Lutheran School, that they might see the Light of the world in Christ alone
 
For all those who travel professionally, that they would kept safe in their travels
 
For those in need, that they would find adequate housing and gainful employment

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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