When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." (Mark 2:5 NRSV)
At the beginning of the New Testament we encounter John the Baptist preaching a message of repentance. It is a very stark message, an unrelenting message. We would like to paint a contrast between John and Jesus. John was a rough-hewn backwoodsman, while Jesus was a more urbane rabbi. John was hard; Jesus was soft. John preached repentance; Jesus preached grace. The historical evidence does not support such a position, however. Jesus in his teaching was just as demanding sometimes even more demanding than John. "Lest your righteousness EXCEED that of the Pharisees," he said. At his baptism Jesus identified himself with John's message of repentance. It was a consistent theme throughout his ministry.
But he also preached forgiveness. In fact, he made boldly said to one man, "Your sins ARE forgiven." That really steamed the temple crowd that he should claim authority to forgive sins. But that was part of Jesus' overall message: Repent and receive forgiveness for your sins.
Dear God, forgive me and my people. In Jesus name, Amen.
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