The Lord's Day Morning
May 17, 2009
“Healing and Forgiving”
Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III
Dr. Duncan: As we prepare to worship, let me invite you to take your hymnals in hand and turn to No. 34. Our opening hymn is going to be The God of Abraham Praise, and it's a perfect hymn for Baptism Sunday because it reminds us of the covenant of grace made with Abraham, which the Apostle Paul says is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. And so it's perfect for a service in which we will worship by both the preaching of the word and by the view of baptism as a sacrament, or means of grace.
Please note also in the course of the service that after the baptism you will join the choir in singing the two stanzas of Hymn 213 that are printed in your bulletin. Now if you’re a person that likes to read the music even as you’re reading the words, you can turn in your hymnal and sing out of your hymnal, but we've got the words in the bulletin. Please look at those words now and use them as a prayer for the four children that we're going to be baptizing this morning. These are great words to pray for any covenant child or grandchild in our church, that the Lord would visit these particular blessings upon them. And so these are good words to pray for the children who are being baptized today.
Now let's prepare to worship the living God together today.
“O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good. His steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” Let us worship God.
Dr. Derek Thomas: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we come into Your presence this morning to worship and to adore; to bow down before You, to extol Your greatness, Your majesty, Your supremacy. You are the creator of all that is. You are the sustainer of everything. It is by You and through You and unto You all things are. We come, O Lord, as those who have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ and made new creations in Him. We come to extol with angels and archangels and cherubim and seraphim Your mighty saving purposes in the world. We thank You this morning as we gather in Your presence. We pray for the blessing of Your Spirit. Remind us afresh that unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it. Come amongst us by Your Spirit; refresh us in our souls; give us a new song in our mouth, even praise unto You. And this we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.
Please be seated.
Dr. Duncan: It is our joy to worship in word and sacrament today as baptism, the sign and seal of the covenant of grace, is applied to four covenant children of this congregation. Presbyterians believe in the baptism of believers and their children because we believe the Bible teaches this. In both the Old and the New Testaments, God has given explicit promises to believers and their children. In Genesis 17, God said to Abraham, “I will be your God, and you will be My people,” and He said, “And this sign shall be for you and for your descendants, and for all who dwell in your tents.” In Acts 2, through Peter, God said to the gathered multitudes in Jerusalem, “The promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off.” And so God in both the Old and the New Testaments has given a promise explicitly to believers and to their children.
God, in both the Old and the New Testaments, has attached signs to those promises. In Genesis 17, it was the sign of circumcision that was attached to the promise to be our God and for us to be His people. In Acts 2 and Matthew 28, and Colossians 2, it was the sign of baptism that was attached to the promise of God to believers and to their children. And so, because God has both in the Old Testament and the New Testament made explicit promises to believers and to their children and has attached explicit signs to those promises (circumcision in the Old, baptism in the New), in obedience to God's word we apply baptism to believers and their children.
The water of baptism does not save anyone, adult or children. So why do we do it? Because God says that it is an assuring sign of His love promised to us in His word. As His word of promise is preached to us and we receive that word by faith, we receive the grace of His promise. As the word is visibly displayed to us in baptism, we are assured of the certainty of His promise. That's why baptism is important for us. Every time we gather to see a baptism, even if we're not being baptized ourselves, the catechism says that it's the duty of each of us to improve our baptism. Now, that doesn't mean that there's something lacking in your baptism; it means that baptism is designed to show all of us the promises of God visibly, and so it's an opportunity for all of us to grow in grace, and especially in assurance, being confirmed of the certainty of God's promise in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that by grace we are saved, and we become members of the family of God.
Now receiving the sign and seal of the covenant of grace this morning are four children of this congregation:
“For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off…. And God will establish His covenant with you, and your seed after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant….Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
I'm going to ask three questions, to which I want all of you to say a very hearty, “I do.”
Do you acknowledge your child's need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit? Do you? [I do.]
Do you claim God's covenant promises in his behalf, and do you look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for his salvation as you do for your own? Do you? [I do.]
Do you now unreservedly dedicate your child to God, and promise in humble reliance upon
divine grace that you will endeavor to set before him a godly example; that you will pray
with and for him; that you will teach him the doctrines of our holy religion; and, that you will
strive by all the means of God's appointment, to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of
the lord? Do you? [parents] I do.
And to the congregation, we collectively make a promise to which I want you to
say also a very hearty, we do.
Do you as a congregation undertake the responsibility of assisting the parents in the
Christian nurture of these children? Do you? [congregation] We do.
Let's pray together.
Lord our God, we thank You for baptism. It is the first sign of Jesus’ love to us, A love that
stretches back before the foundation of the world, a love that says You want to be our God and
the God of our children. We thank you, O Lord for baptism because it is a sign of cleansing,
of the washing of regeneration. And we pray O Lord for these little ones, we thank You for them.
Thank You for the many sweet promises that have been answered by their presence here today.
Thank You for these gifts that you have given to these families and we pray this morning that
each one of these children will grow up to know and love and serve the Lord Jesus, to put their
faith in Him and in Him alone, To sing that song of Zion, nothing in my hand I bring simply
to Thy cross I cling. Father, we pray now that this baptism will prove to be a means of blessing,
a means of blessing to every single one of us here today, that we might improve our baptism
to strive and make our calling and election sure, to run with perseverance the race that is set
before us looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Hear us O Lord, we ask it in
Jesus' name, Amen.
Assisting me this morning in the baptism of these covenant children, is ruling elder J. Edmund Johnston.
I would simply mention this. You will notice at First Presbyterian Church that we never administer
baptism and we never administer the Lord's Supper without both pastors and ruling elders together
administering the sacraments. There are a number of reasons for that and I want to mention two.
1, it emphasizes that I am not a priest, I am just a shepherd;
2, it emphasizes that our elders are shepherds too, and together we administer the ordinances
that God has given us.
What is your child's name?
[child], Child of the covenant, I baptize you in the name of the father, and of the Son and of
the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, thank You for baptism. It is a sign of Your promise to be our God and for us to
be Your people and to be a part of Your family. We pray that by the grace of the Holy Spirit,
That this daughter of Zion would come to so trust in Jesus Christ that all the benefits
of His life and death and person and work would become hers by faith. We look forward to
the day when she stands before Your people and says, I'd rather have Jesus than anything.
In the mean time, encourage her parents as they rear her in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
For we ask it in Jesus’ name, Amen.
What is your child's name?
[child], child of the covenant, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of
the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for this covenant child. Sons are a heritage from the Lord and
we acknowledge that right now. This is a gift of grace that I am holding in my arms today.
I pray Heavenly Father that You would encourage his parents as they rear him in the truth of
the gospel, in the truth of the Bible and as they, with their lips and lives, give testimony
to Jesus. Thank you. This little boy doesn't know it yet, but he has been born into a believing
family, and this is an enormous privilege. There are billions of people on the planet
today who do not have this privilege. We pray that You would use this by your Holy Spirit to
bring him to the day when he stands up for Jesus, professes Him as Lord and Savior, walks
with, and lives with Him all the days of his life. We ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.
What is your child's name?
[child] , child of the covenant, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for this daughter of Zion. We thank You for the promises that
are for her yeah and amen in Jesus Christ, and we look to the day when she will embrace those
promises by resting and receiving trusting and believing in Jesus Christ for salvation as He
is offered in the gospel. Father I pray for her and for this other daughter that You have
brought to us today and for these two boys, that if it is Your will for them to be married and
to have children that you would give to them godly, believing Christian spouses and that
You would be preparing them even now. And that if it is Your will for them to have children that
they would rear them in the nurture and admonition of the lord, and You would so extend Your
blessings and promises from generation to generation. Encourage her parents in the truths
of the gospel and help us to remember all that You have reached out to these children in the
sign of baptism so that when they profess faith in Christ, they can say, “That I sought the lord
and afterwards I knew, that He sought me first.” This we pray in Jesus' name, amen.
Now stand and receive God's blessing:
The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you,
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace
through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Now let's join in singing the congregational response in your bulletin.
Our children, Lord, in faith and pray’r, we now devote to Thee;
Let then Thy cov’nant mercies share, and Thy salvation see.
In early days their hearts secure from worldly snares we pray.
O let them to the end endure in every righteous way.
Dr. Duncan: If you have your Bibles, I'd invite you to turn with me to Luke 5:12-26, as we continue our way through the Gospel of Luke. As you look at this passage, let me draw just a few things to your attention before we read from it.
First of all, it will have already dawned upon you [and Derek's already mentioned before the service] that there are two stories here, that the stories are related, and that they’re told together for a specific reason. You know that they’re told for a specific reason because the authors of the Gospels never tell you anything without having an agenda. They are concerned to tell you the truth as it happened, but they’re also concerned to tell you the truth as it happened for a reason. They are teaching you things about God, about the gospel, and about the Christian life constantly, even as they recount the stories of Jesus. And so it's always generally true. But it's specifically true of this passage, and you can tell by looking at verses 14 and 24. Twice in this passage we are told why Jesus did what He did, and it is those two verses, 14 and 24, that tip you off to the main point of this passage. So as we look at these two stories, we're not looking at two unrelated stories, we're looking at two stories that are part of emphasizing the same point. Now, those two stories are found in verses 12-16 (the story of Jesus’ healing a leper), and in verses 17-26 (the story of Jesus’ healing this lame or paralytic man who is let down literally through a deconstructed ceiling, in order that he can be let down into the presence of Jesus Christ).
Now, in each of these two stories there are two sub-parts to the story. In verses 13-14, the miracle of the healing of the leper is explained, and then in verses 14-16 the reason for that healing is given. So in the first story there are two parts, the miracle and the explanation. In the second story — guess what? — there are two parts, the miracle and the explanation. You see that unfolded in verses 17-20, where Jesus heals the paralytic, and then in verses 21-26, which gives us the reason why He has done what He has done in this passage. So if we were to break the passage in four parts it would be verses 12-13, which record the story of Jesus cleansing the leper; verses 14-16, where Jesus explains what He was doing in cleansing the leper, and sending the leper who has been cleansed to the priest; verses 17-20, Jesus healing the paralytic; and, verses 21-26, the explanation of the significance of what Jesus had done.
But here's what I don't want you to miss in this passage. At the heart of this passage is not just two miraculous healings. At the heart of this passage is Jesus’ forgiveness of sins. He makes this very clear in verse 24. And so this passage raises for us the question Who can fix what we have messed up by our sin? Now most of us today have grown up in church, and we know that the generic answer to that question is “God.” And more specifically, the answer is “Jesus.” But Luke wants us to think long and hard about that question, because frankly that question won't matter to you as much as it ought to until you see how desperately you need what Jesus had to offer. These two stories tell of two men — and in the second story, even people around that one man — who clearly saw how desperately they needed Jesus. Do you? Do you see how desperately you need Jesus? And do you, like they did, after the experience of this encounter with Jesus and these miraculous healings, do you understand like they did how much you need Jesus to fix what you have messed up by your sin? That's the issue that's before us as we read this passage.
Let's look to God in prayer before we read His word.
Heavenly Father, we are blind without the help of the Spirit, because we know that there are people who can read the Bible and miss the point, not because the Bible isn't clear–it is. It's crystal clear. But because our hearts are dull and our eyes are dim, we really need Your Holy Spirit to open our eyes and our hearts to wonderful truth in Your word. And speak to us, O Lord. Not to our neighbor, not to our friend, not to that other person here today who really needs to hear Your word — but to us. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
This is the word of God. Hear it:
“While He was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged Him, ‘Lord, if You will, You can make me clean.’ And Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him. And He charged him to tell no one, but ‘go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.’ But now even more the report about Him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their infirmities. But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
“On one of those days, as He was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when He saw their faith, He said, ‘Man your sins are forgiven you.’ And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, ‘Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ When Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered them, ‘Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, “Rise and walk?” But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins;–He said to the man who was paralyzed–‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.’ And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen extraordinary things today.’”
Amen. And thus ends this reading of God's holy, inspired, and inerrant word. May He write its eternal truth upon all our hearts.
Now this is one of those passages that you’re tempted to take a long time on, because there's so much here that I won't be able to show you today. But I do want to draw to your attention three things that this passage so beautifully puts before our eyes.
This passage first of all points to the fact that the core of Jesus’ ministry is the forgiveness of sins. This passage points to the centrality of our need for the forgiveness of sin.
Secondly, this passage shows us that only Jesus has the power and authority to forgive sins.
And, third, this passage shows us that Jesus has the power and authority to forgive sins because He is the Son of Man, the Messiah, God in the flesh, the Second Person of the Trinity. Jesus of Nazareth is not just a great moral prophet. He is the Son of the living God sent into this world to be the Savior of His people's sins. And those are three things we need desperately to learn today.
I. Our fundamental need in this world is forgiveness of sins.
You know, really the whole passage drives home one point, and that one point is this: that Jesus can do what no priest can do. You know the Old Testament had laws pertaining to lepers and to the lame. In Numbers 5 and in Leviticus 13-14 we're told that lepers had to be put out of the community. They could not come into cities. They could have no contact with God's people, and they could not come into worship. They were excluded. And we're told in Leviticus 22 that lame priests were not allowed to serve in the temple of the Lord. Both these maladies — leprosy and lameness, or paralysis — excluded one's participation in the gathered worship of the living God at the temple, and so these maladies that these two men have are grievous. They’re grievous emotionally and physically and spiritually because they isolated these men from the people of God. They made them unable to support themselves by doing anything but begging, and they excluded them from the worship of the living God in the temple.
But isn't it interesting? Even with these men having these kinds of severe physical maladies, the attention is drawn to Jesus’ forgiving of sins and of cleansing in this passage. When the leper comes…and it's extraordinary…Luke tells us it's while Jesus was in one of the cities that a man comes to Him who is “full of leprosy.” Now Luke's words there, “full of leprosy,” are unparalleled. You won't find this description anywhere else in the Gospels, and it strikes you again doesn't it, that Luke's a doctor and he is prone to make medical observations that the other Gospel writers don't.
And what does it mean to be full of leprosy? I think Luke is telling you this is an extreme case of leprosy. This is not a man with a minor skin affliction. There were a lot of things that were called leprosy in Israel in this time, some of them less severe and some of them more severe. Luke is saying this was as severe a case of leprosy as I can recall. This man was full of leprosy. Lepers were not allowed to come into the city limits, so either Luke is telling you that it's while Jesus is on the way into the city that this leper encounters him, or Luke may tell you that the leper is so desperate for healing that he has broken the law and entered into the city, and he's found Jesus.
Either way it's very clear that this man knows that Jesus can heal him. But isn't it fascinating how the leper asks Jesus to do this? Look at what the leper says: “Lord, if you will, You can make me clean.” The leper knows that he needs Jesus; he knows that only Jesus can heal him, but he doesn't even directly ask Jesus to do this. He simply says this: ‘Lord, I know this. I know this. This is absolutely certain to me, that if You want to make me clean, You can make me clean.’ He doesn't walk up to Jesus and say, ‘Jesus, would you make me clean?’ He says, ‘Jesus, I know that if You want to, You can make me clean.’ Isn't that extraordinary? The faith of this man! And I love what Jesus says. It's such a terse, powerful response: ‘I want to; be clean. I will; be clean.’
But notice when Jesus does this He does something extraordinary. He stretches out His hand, and somehow He lays hold of and touches this leper. Now every good Jewish person hearing this read in the first century in a synagogue somewhere or perhaps later on the Lord's Day when people out of the synagogue had followed Paul or someone else for a Bible study…everyone hearing this story told who knew anything about the Old Testament would know that Jesus is about to do something extraordinary. He's about to touch a leper.
Now this was not only understood to be a health risk (because the way that leprosy was dealt with was by quarantine) but it was also something which Leviticus 13-14 tells you makes you ceremonially unclean. If you come into contact with a leper, you become unclean. And so everybody who hears Luke start to say, “And Jesus stretched out His hand…” is going, “No, no, no, no, Jesus! Don't do that! You’ll become unclean!” And what happens? He lays hold of the man, and Jesus does not become unclean: the man becomes clean.
What is Luke telling you? Jesus can do what no priest can do. A priest would have been instantaneously declared unclean by this action. Not Jesus. And a priest cannot cleanse a man. It's interesting. You go to Leviticus 13-14, what's to happen? If a leper is healed of his leprosy, then he goes to the priest. The priest examines him to see if he has been healed of his leprosy, and then the priest declares him to be ceremonially clean, he baptizes him, and then he welcomes him back into the community. But in Leviticus 13-14, guess what the priest can't do? The priest can't make him clean! The priest can declare that he has been clean, but he can't make him clean, except ceremonially. Jesus, on the other hand, can make this man clean. In drawing attention to cleanness and uncleanness, Jesus is drawing attention to the forgiveness of sins.
You can't miss that, though, when the lame man comes to Him. When the lame man comes before Him, the first thing that Jesus says when this paralytic is let down before Him on a cot, suspended from the roof, is, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Now Jesus does not say this because He assumes that the leper's leprosy was caused by his sin, or that the lame man's lameness was caused by his sin, although there are certainly instances when there are certain consequences to our sins, and even physical consequences to our sins. We know that in the days of the sexual revolution…of all people, we know that. There can be physical consequences to our sin. The reason Jesus is saying this is that as significant as the physical need of these two men is, there is no need deeper than that their sins be forgiven. And so He speaks of cleansing and of forgiving in these two stories.
What is Luke's point? Our fundamental need in this world is forgiveness of sins. Without that blessing no other blessing of God can be enjoyed. Your body could be healed and you could spend eternity in separation from the love of the living God and under His burning, searching judgment. There's no need more central than the forgiveness of sins. No other blessing can be enjoyed without it. It comes through loud and clear in this passage.
II. Only Jesus can forgive sin and has the authority to forgive sins.
But, secondly, this passage makes it clear that only Jesus can forgive sins, and that He has the authority to forgive sins. In other words, Jesus can do what no priest can do. He can heal and He can forgive. And doesn't this come through loud and clear in the second story? There are a bunch of Pharisees and scribes. Now the Pharisees were amongst the religious leaders of their day, and they were there checking up on Jesus because they thought he was a false teacher. And they’re all sitting around and this man's let down through the ceiling, and Jesus says to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven.” And they immediately jump on it! Who does this man think he is? This man is uttering blasphemies! Who but God can forgive sins?
Now Luke loves — have you noticed this yet? — Luke loves to have “who?” questions asked about Jesus. Why? Because Luke loves to tell you who Jesus is. And so when they ask “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” It is like throwing Brer Rabbit in the briar patch! Luke can't wait to tell you about that, because though they have the wrong answer about Jesus, they have bumblingly and stumblingly managed to ask the right question: Who indeed can forgive sins but God?
Now I understand that when somebody sins against you, you can say…they can come to you and say, “Look, I was wrong. What I did toward you was wrong. I ask forgiveness,” and you can say, “I forgive you.” That ought to be happening all the time in the Christian church, because God has forgiven us so much we ought to be looking to seek reconciliation with one another, and we ought to be looking to give forgiveness to one another. Because we're going to mess up towards one another, and one of the glories of the gospel community is that we're asking for and receiving forgiveness and it's a regular part of our life together. But if I were to say to someone who had grievously wounded you, “I forgive you before God,” you would rightly look at me askance. What right would I have to forgive before God someone who has sinned against you? Well, you would be right to ask that question about me. I would have no right to do that. Only God can forgive someone before God in that way. And by saying, “Man, I forgive you,” Jesus is making a claim. He makes that clear in verse 24. And the Pharisees and scribes jump on this! “How dare you do this?!” And what does Jesus do? He explains that the very reason for Him healing this lame man, this paralytic, is so that they would know that He has the authority to forgive sins. Look again at verse 24:
“That you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, I say, ‘Rise, pick up your bed and walk.’”
Now Jesus’ response is amazing, isn't it? He says, ‘Which is easier? To say “I forgive you,” or “I forgive your sins,” or “Rise up and walk”? And the answer is (if it's us), “Well, neither of them are easier. I can't forgive another person's sins before God, and I can't make a lame man walk. And that's the whole point. Jesus can. Jesus is saying, ‘You want to know that I am able to forgive people's sins? Watch this: ‘Get up and walk.’’ And it's glorious. Look how Luke describes it. In verse 25, He says that the man immediately got up — and listen to what it says — “…And picked up what he had been lying on, and went home.” This man had been being held up by a cot, or a bed or a mat. Now he picks up and holds what had been holding him. And he goes home by the power of Jesus, and Luke alone amongst the Gospels says, “And he went home, glorifying God.”
And Jesus says, ‘Let Me tell you why I just healed that man: so that you would know when I say, “Your sins are forgiven,” I can do it.’ Jesus in this passage is claiming to be able to do what only God can do, what no priest can do — heal and forgive.
III. Jesus has authority.
And that leads me to the last thing that we see in this passage, and again you see it in verse 24: “…That you may know the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Now Luke will use the phrase of Jesus, Son of Man, 26 times. This is the first time in his Gospel that he uses this title. It is Jesus’ favorite title of self-designation. When Jesus is referring to himself in the third person, this is the title that He uses more than any title in the Gospels. Over eighty times Jesus calls himself the Son of Man. What does that mean?
Well, you have to turn in your Bibles to Daniel 7 to see. In Daniel 7:13-14, Daniel says that he saw a vision in which the Ancient of Days was sitting on His throne. Now who's he talking about? He's talking about God, the Ancient of Days; in other words, the One who is before time; the One who has always been around; the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, who was and is, and evermore shall be. He was sitting on the throne, and he saw somebody approach the Ancient of Days. Who was it? The Son of Man. And what did the Ancient of Days give to the Son of Man? Dominion, power, authority, honor, might glory, blessing. All of this was bestowed on the Son of Man, and when Jesus says the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, He is saying, ‘That's Me. I'm here.’
Now, my friends, very frankly, at that point the Pharisees should have been on their faces before Jesus, saying, ‘The One that Isaiah prophesied about in Isaiah 35, the One who, when He comes, the blind are going to see and the lame are going to leap for joy, and the deaf are going to hear — He's here! We've just seen Him make a lame man walk, and that man leapt for joy going home, glorifying God! And we've just seen a leper healed just like Isaiah says in Isaiah 35. This is the One we've been waiting for!’ But they didn't. Why? Because unlike that leper, and unlike that lame man, they did not see their need. They didn't see how much they needed Jesus. They didn't see how much they needed the forgiveness of sins. And so they stood there in judgment over Jesus.
My friends, every single one of us in here stands in desperate need of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. He is the only One who can forgive those sins, because He is the Son of Man, God in the flesh, the Messiah of God come into this world to live and die for the forgiveness of our sins. And He is able to save to the uttermost those who will believe on Him, but if you do not think that you need Him…there's just no hope, is there? Because He's the only hope, and if you think you don't need the only hope, there's no other hope.
And you may be thinking this morning, “But, Ligon, you don't know the lines that I've crossed. I've already gone places in the Christian life where no Christian goes, and I've already done things in life that are not things that Christians do. And my sin puts me beyond the pale of what He can do. I’ll be ostracized; I’ll be rejected. If I come clean with who I am and what I've done, there's no hope for me.” And I’ll say to you, “Here's a leper, an outcast, and Jesus is touching him! He touches him. Jesus doesn't become unclean; he becomes clean. And here's a lame man who could never enter into the temple of the Lord, and Jesus says, “I forgive you. Rise up and walk.” And he goes away glorifying God. What's Luke telling you? Luke is telling you there is no one whose sin has put them beyond the reach of Jesus.
But, my friends, if you reject Him, if you act like you don't need Him, woe unto you. Because there is help in no other name.
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