Sunday, January 5, 2014

First things first

Seeing their faith, He said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven you." (Luke 5:20 NASB)

In Luke 4, we read the story of Jesus in  Capernaum at the synagogue, when the demon possessed man began to shout, "I know who you are - the Holy One of God." At that point, Jesus silenced him and cast out the demon. In this instance, Jesus has chosen both His moment and his crowd. There were Pharisees and teachers of the law from all over Israel present.  It would be easy to miss this fact, but His timing was divinely inspired, as He had just returned from His prayer retreat in the wilderness, and the events were most certainly divinely orchestrated. 

He looked down at the man on the stretcher and said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven". With those words, He declared Himself God, for only God can forgive sin. It was not an accident. He said it intentionally, fully understanding both how they would react and the firestorm that would ensue. In a way, the battle lines between Jesus and the religious establishment were drawn here.

There is not a recorded request from the men who lowered the stretcher nor from the man on the stretcher. They left the decision about what to do to Jesus. Jesus assesses the situation and deals with the most pressing need first - forgiveness of sin. He will also heal his physical need, but the sin need came first. 

Remember the leper? He asked for healing and he received healing. He only received healing, but the greater gift of forgiveness is not mentioned. I wonder... Perhaps in our quest to have specific prayers that tell Jesus what we want Him to do, we miss a vital part of the process when we fail to invite Him to assess the situation and do what is best. Here it is again. The problem of "Thy will be done."  I admit it. I like to pray a prayer that is specific enough to have a recognizable answer. Those prayers have their place. In situations of desperation, however, the relinquishment of control involved in asking God to do whatever He sees best is very powerful. We would do well to invite Him to do what's best from the beginning, don't you think?  

Today, pray the prayer that never fails, "Thy will be done", for ourselves and our loved ones. Invite our Lord to assess the situation and do whatever is needed. Don't offer Him any guidelines or any limits. Trust that His will and plan are for good and not evil (Jer 29:11). He is able to deliver, and He can handle our loved ones, as well.