“The human need for forgiveness appears indelible. It won’t go away by denouncing it or trying to deconstruct it. The need I’m referring to is both a profound need to grant forgiveness and to receive forgiveness. . . . Forgiveness gets down to the bottom of things — to the alienation we feel from God and from ourselves because of our wrongdoing.”- Timothy Keller
“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ “- Mark 2:5 (NIV)
In his Introduction (“No Future Without Forgiveness”) of Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I?, Timothy Keller observes that today we sense an apparent contradiction between forgiveness and justice. That our only choice involves choosing one over the other. However, Pastor Keller questions the truth of that assertion.
But first Pastor Keller takes a look at Jesus’ healing of the paralyzed man (Mark 2:1-12). The author notes the crowd’s shock when Jesus forgives the man’s sins before healing him. Because Jesus knew the paralyzed man needed forgiveness first and foremost. Healing only provides temporary joy.
Hence, Pastor Keller sees Jesus as telling the man:
“I want to show you that the deepest need of your nature is for me. I can bestow perfect love, new identity, endless comfort, hope, and glory. And the doorway into all of that is to know forgiveness (emphasis author’s).”
Moving on to Chapter 1 (“A Story of Forgiveness”), Pastor Keller examines the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35). Timothy sees this parable as the most sustained treatment of this topic in the New Testament.
Above all, the act of forgiveness carries healing, life-transforming potential. However, this parable also shows that it’s possible to abuse forgiveness in a way that brings ruin to all those around. Also, Jesus tells this gripping, tragic story as a realistic account of life in this world.
Today’s question: How do you see forgiveness as a profound need? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “An arrow pointed directly”