When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’ Mark 2:5
Jesus forgave the paralysed man’s sins, and thus healed him first of spiritual paralysis. Guilt paralyses our hearts as nothing else can, and makes it impossible for us to believe, pray, worship or love. Guilt produces fear, suspicion and mistrust. It is a hidden power of destruction in the armoury of the prince of darkness. Forgiveness always breaks his dread grip on situations and individuals. Jesus came to release us from the paralysing burden of guilt by forgiving our sins. In 1963 Kenya received independence from Britain. This had been preceded by years of violence between Mau Mau independence fighters and British colonial forces. The new President, Jomo Kenyatta, had been imprisoned by the British. On independence day, President Kenyatta addressed the newborn nation on Kenyan state radio. He spoke first to the British settlers, remembering many bad things they had done over many years, and then said: “But I forgive you.” Then he went one step further, remembering the bad things done by the independence fighters, and concluded: “Please forgive us.” Jomo Kenyatta gave Kenya the new beginning it needed. Forgiveness cannot reverse the effects of sins, but it does break the bitterness and division that flow from guilt. No wonder, then, that Jesus’ next words to the paralytic are the physical counterpart of forgiveness: “…arise, take up your bed, and go to your house” – Mark 2:11. We rise from the world of the stress and misery of guilt, into the world of love and acceptance, and then walk home into the loving arms of our heavenly Father.
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