August 22nd 2010

Despite Our Doubts

“Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic…. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof…lowering the mat [on which] the paralysed man was lying.
Mark 2:2-4 (NIV)

Instead of saying to the paralysed man, “Rise up and walk,” Jesus said, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (verse 5).

The Pharisees were outraged that Jesus, a mere man, would presume to forgive sins. So Jesus told them, “So that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, I say to the lame man, ‘Rise up and walk’” (verses 10-11, paraphrased).

To believers, this is unnecessary. We already believe that the Son of man has power to forgive sins. We don’t need a sign of Jesus’ power to demonstrate the fact that he has authority to forgive sins.

In the Bible, signs were usually given for unbelievers. Paul, for example, was an unbeliever and an enemy of the gospel, in that he persecuted believers. When Jesus appeared to him in person on the road to Damascus, he became a believer. Many others became believers when they witnessed the signs given by Jesus and the apostles.

Sometimes, though, we wish we did have a sign, because we do fall into doubt about the things God has told us. We sometimes doubt whether God really loves us, and whether God really has forgiven us. Sometimes we even doubt, though we don’t like to admit it, whether God is really there at all. And our doubt makes us worry all the more that, if God is there, he probably doesn’t love and forgive sinners and doubters like us.

But it is not our faith that saves us. It is Jesus who saves us. In our moments of strong faith, we trust him completely and all fear is gone. In our moments of doubt, we fear failure and condemnation. But either way, the Word of God says that we are already seated with Christ at the right hand of the Father.

Colossians 3:1 puts it this way: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, [notice the past tense; it’s already been accomplished by Jesus without our help]. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

Whether our faith is strong or weak, Jesus is always the same. He loves us and will not let us go. He has faith for us even when we are in doubt, because he is our righteousness and our life. He has already forgiven us and made us his own. We already sit with him at the right hand of God.

So rather than wishing for a sign to give us some reassurance, let us trust in Jesus who is faithful, not in how strong or weak our faith might be.

Holy Father, thank you for knowing us so well. We echo the prayer of the man who said, “Lord, I believe; strengthen my unbelief!” And we thank you for such strong encouragement given to us through the writings of your servant Paul. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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