Your Sins Are Forgiven

The Awana curriculum that I teach for 5th and 6th graders instructed me to teach that “Jesus Gives Us Grace.”  I thought of the story of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. In the beginning of that story, Valjean is staying at the home of a bishop after his release from prison. He is bitter, angry, and full of hate. During the night he stole the house’s silver, assaulting the kind old bishop who finds him emptying the cabinet. He fled into the night but was apprehended the next day and dragged back to the scene of the crime. (watch the scene here)

There the old priest acts in grace, declaring that the silver in Valjean’s bag was a gift and asking him why he had not also taken the candlesticks that were his as well. The police are mystified as they remove the handcuffs from the thief. Before Valjean leaves, the priest challenges him: “Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I buy from you; I withdraw it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God.”

Such is the story of grace for all of us. Ours may not be so dramatic, but we are all desperately in need of grace.  The truth about us, apart from God’s love, is that we have a “long and sorry record as sinners… ( which) proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us.” (Romans 3:23, The Message)   Ours is a universal sin sickness.  The Bible’s words are not pleasant, but they are true. “We all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” (Ephesians 2:3, NKJV)  We would be hopeless, except for the grace gift of Jesus, the Friend of Sinners.

A man was brought to Jesus who experienced grace in a kind of parable for all of us.  

“Several days later Jesus returned to Capernaum, and the news of his arrival spread quickly through the town. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there wasn’t room for one more person, not even outside the door. And he preached the word to them. Four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t get to Jesus through the crowd, so they dug through the clay roof above his head. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus.

Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”

But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there said to themselves, “What? This is blasphemy! Who but God can forgive sins!” Jesus knew what they were discussing among themselves, so he said to them, “Why do you think this is blasphemy? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk’? I will prove that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed!” The man jumped up, took the mat, and pushed his way through the stunned onlookers. Then they all praised God. “We’ve never seen anything like this before!” they exclaimed.” (Mark 2:1-12, NLT)

Where are you in that story?
Are you bringing someone sick with sin to the Master for healing?
Are you the one sin sick, in need of a healing word? 
Are you among those who stand in judgment, seeking a remedy in religion, rather than through the Savior?

Before our grace awakening, we are the man in need, paralyzed by sin, to whom Jesus says, “your sins are forgiven.” His healing words transform us, put us back on our feet, and invite us to live in God’s favor!  When we have known His grace we become messengers, not of condemnation, but of the great transforming grace of Jesus Christ.

As we begin a brand new week, take a few moments to thank God for His grace. If you are carrying a weight of shame and/or guilt, let Him lift the burden. Confess the fault, receive forgiveness. If you know His grace, let the wonder of it all inspire you to true worship. “I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.”

Here is a word from the Word, one of my favorite passages in the Bible.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9, NIV)  

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!”

Lord, let the Word live in us today. Amen. 


Graves Into Gardens

I searched the world but it couldn’t fill me
Man’s empty praise and treasures that fade
Are never enough
Then You came along and put me back together
And every desire is now satisfied here in Your love
Oh there’s nothing better than You
There’s nothing better than You
Lord there’s nothing
Nothing is better than You

I’m not afraid to show You my weakness
My failures and flaws
Lord You’ve seen them all
And You still call me friend
‘Cause the God of the mountain
Is the God of the valley
And there’s not a place
Your mercy and grace won’t find me again

You turn mourning to dancing
You give beauty for ashes
You turn shame into glory
You’re the only one who can

You turn graves into gardens
You turn bones into armies
You turn seas into highways
You’re the only one who can

Brandon Lake | Chris Brown | Steven Furtick | Tiffany Hudson © 2019 Music by Elevation Worship Publishing (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

Maverick City Publishing Worldwide (Admin. by Heritage Worship Publishing)

Bethel Music Publishing

CCLI License # 810055

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