14th Sunday after Pentecost September 11, 2022


Be of Good Cheer!

Mark 2:1-4; Matthew 9:2b-8

Scripture Readings

Isaiah 43:21-25
2 Corinthians 1:18-22


245, 652, 305:1,4,6-9, 309

Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted

+ In the Name of Jesus Christ +

Prayer of the Day: Almighty and merciful God, it is by Your grace that we live as Your people who offer ourselves in service to You. Grant that we may walk by faith, and not by sight, in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. We pray this in His name, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying… (Mark 2:1-4 NKJV)

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, "This Man blasphemes!” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house. Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men. (Matthew 9:2b-8 NKJV)

I want to put yourself in the “shoes” of this paralyzed man in our text for this morning. What do you think was the reason he and his friends went to such great lengths to see Jesus? What do you think this paralytic thought was his greatest problem in life? Those are pretty easy questions to answer, aren’t they? This man and his friends went to such great lengths to see Jesus because he wanted to be healed from his paralysis, as we read from Mark’s account (Mark 2:3-4). I would guess this man thought that the greatest problem in his life was his paralysis. His illness practically defined who he was. He was, after all, called a paralytic. (Matthew 9:2) Can you imagine, then, being this man and finally getting lowered down in front of Jesus and hearing Jesus say to you the words from our text, Son, be of good cheer… (Matthew 9:2)?

What would you expect to be the next words to come out of Jesus’ mouth would be? Aren’t you filled with excitement and anticipation? “Oh here it comes!” you think to yourself, “Jesus is going to heal me!” But then, the very next words out of Jesus mouth are …your sins are forgiven you. (v. 2b) Uhhh…what?! Don’t tell me you wouldn’t be at least a little bit disappointed, or at least shocked, to hear those words. “Jesus, don’t you realize what my problem is here?!

Well, yes, of course He did. But the statement Jesus makes by His words and actions about the importance of forgiveness for our souls is unmistakable: Even if we are suffering from one of the worst physical health problems imaginable, His main concern would still be our soul’s forgiveness and salvation, AND He would want that forgiveness to be our greatest source of joy; the reason we can “Be of Good Cheer” no matter what our situation, no matter what problems we might be facing.

I want each one of you to take a moment and think of the biggest problem you have in your life right now. What is the most difficult thing you are facing? What is it that is stressing you out or worrying you during the day and keeping you awake at night? Have you thought of at least one thing? Now, what if I told you that no matter what that problem is I can assure you that your “greatest problem” in life has been taken care of? No, I’m not a mind reader, so I can’t tell what each one of you were thinking of as your biggest problem. That really doesn’t matter, because I can tell you confidently and with certainty that your “greatest problem” in life has already been taken care of. What a relief, huh? Aren’t you just ecstatic that that burden is off your shoulders; that your greatest worry and fear in life is taken away? You’re probably not going to be able to wipe the smile off your face for the rest of the day!

Now, like I said, I’m not sure what problems each of you were thinking of; maybe some of you thought of a family or relationship problem, perhaps it was an illness or sickness you are suffering from, maybe it’s job or financial troubles—whatever it is, as great as those problems may be none of them are your “greatest problem.”

Our greatest problem, hands down, without a doubt, is the same “greatest problem” that the paralytic in our text had: sin. Sin in this world, sin in ourselves and in our lives is the reason that there are problems at all: sickness, relationship troubles, diseases, injuries, pain, sorrow, and even death itself. Sin also produces in our hearts and souls that worst and “heaviest” of all feelings and emotions: guilt. If that weren’t bad enough, the Bible also tells us that sin—even just one—earns us death (Romans 6:23a). Not just the physical act of having our heart stop beating and our body decaying, but eternal death in hell! I’d say that qualifies sin as being our number one problem by far! But, Be of Good Cheer… your sins are forgiven you! (Matthew 9:2)

Now, like the paralytic in our text, our lives can be filled with some seemingly overwhelming difficulties. The troubles and struggles we face in this life physically, mentally, and emotionally can often overshadow and blind us to our spiritual needs and spiritual struggles. The trials of life can also suck the incredible joy that comes to us as a result of being assured that all our sins—every last one of them—have been forgiven by our Savior’s perfect life and innocent sacrifice on the cross in our place.

Just think about that great blessing of forgiveness for a moment: If you’ve ever felt the paralyzing pain of guilt or shame over something you’ve done (or haven’t done) you know what a sick, crippling feeling it is. It is physically, mentally, and emotionally debilitating and has ruined the lives of so many people throughout history. Yet, Jesus frees us from all that guilt and shame and says to each one of us, Son [or daughter], be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you!” (Matthew 9:2)

Jesus has taken all that punishment of death and even hell itself on Himself and nailed it to His cross. (Colossians 2:14) He now says to each one of us, Son [or daughter], be of good cheer your sins are forgiven you! (Matthew 9:2)

But what about all our other problems—the non-spiritual ones: our sicknesses and illnesses, our relationship problems, our financial difficulties, etc. Doesn’t Jesus care about those too? Of course He does! As we saw in our text, Jesus not only proved He is true God by His power over sin, He also showed His compassion by healing this man of his paralysis. Let’s read again from Mark and Matthew’s account of this incident: Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone? (Mark 2:7) But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house (Matthew 9:4-7).

During the many years this man was paralyzed there is no way he could have known God’s amazing plans for him. I’m sure he prayed for healing many times during his life, but there is no way he could have imagined that this was how God would answer his prayer: being personally assured of forgiveness by Jesus Himself and then being completely healed from his paralysis! Whatever it is that we are going through, or will go through in life, we can be assured that Jesus knows about it; He does care, and He hears our prayers. He may choose to take that difficulty from us, to heal us, or relieve us of our burden right away. But He may choose to tell us “Not yet. I have a better plan and a good reason for what I’m allowing you to go through. Trust me, I love you!” He may even chose to not relieve us of our difficulty or pain until after this life is over.

He once told His Apostle Paul after he had prayed a number of times to be relieved of his physical disability, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) In other words God told him, “My love and my blessings to you are enough for me to accomplish what I have planned for you. I will give you My strength to make up for your weakness!

Give your burdens, your difficulties, and your anxieties over to Jesus, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) He proved it by dying for you! Our “greatest problem” has been taken care of! He is fully capable and willing of taking care of our other “lesser” problems as well. As the Apostle Paul says in Romans 8, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all— how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32) Not only has he taken care of our greatest problem, He has also given us our greatest joy! Jesus says to us—He says to you, Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you! (Matthew 9:2) Amen.

—Pastor Luke Bernthal

St. Stephen Lutheran Church
Mt. View and Hayward, CA

Ministry by Mail is a weekly publication of the Church of the Lutheran Confession. Subscription and staff information may be found online at www.clclutheran.org/ministrybymail.