In 1951 the Rev. Dr. Charles Francis Whiston, Professor of Moral Theology at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California, wrote a devotional study book titled “The Ministry of Jesus”. In the meditation on Jesus’ healing of the paralytic in the Gospel of Mark, Dr. Whiston writes, “That this incident was counted by the early church as of central importance is evidenced vividly from the art symbols which the church used. Among them...the crudely drawn outline of a man, carrying a bedding roll on his shoulder. Why did the early Christians select this incident out of the many in Jesus’ ministry for their special concern?” (Page 21)
In the discussion which follows Whiston answers his question by saying that this incident highlights the “very core and heart of the Christian experience of God through Jesus”; that is, the experience of forgiveness. The Christian faith proclaims that God freely forgives; we do not have to first of all deserve it by adhering to a heavy burden of religious rules. God’s forgiveness may precede repentance. Remember, as Jesus hung dying on the cross he prayed for his unrepentant persecutors, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Experiencing God’s forgiveness through Christ Jesus brings new life. Alleluia!
Bible Reading: Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12, Luke 23:34