Your Sins are Forgiven

 Inspired by (but not based on) Mark 10:49-52 and John 9:1-3 

“Your sins are forgiven.  Open your eyes, old man, for you can see.” 

The old man who stood before Jesus hesitated for just a moment then lifted his head towards the sky. 

“I want the first thing I see to be the Heavens” he said, and aimed his face skyward. 

Jesus smiled. 

The old man opened his eyes.  For a moment, Peter thought that he might still be blind, because the old man’s face did not change.  In fact, he just stood, immobile, his face turned towards the blue of the sky. 

And then Peter noticed it - or rather them – tears, streaming down the old man’s cheeks. 

“I can ….. see!” said the old man, crying. “I can see! Oh thank you, oh thank you. I can see, oh thank you.” 

Jesus had turned and was walking away.  Peter started to follow him.  People were beginning to crowd round the old man, who, while gaining his sight, seemed to have lost the power of speech except for the words “I can see” and “oh thank you.” 

They had covered some distance before either of them spoke, and when one did it was Peter. 

“Sometimes I think the Lord is very cruel” he said. 

Jesus stopped walking and looked at Peter.  “Cruel?” he asked.  “Why is that?” 

“Well,” said Peter, slowly.  He wanted to get his thoughts in order before engaging in what experience told him was going to be a long discourse. 

“Well?” asked Jesus. 

“Well,” said Peter.    “The Lord struck that nice old man blind” then he added quickly “for his sins.” 

“He was basically a good man” Jesus agreed. 

“But He took his sight” Peter continued  “without which he could not work, and so he became a beggar.  And of course then people would kick him or steal the little that he had and he could do nothing for he could not see to chase them.” 

“He certainly led a harsh life” agreed Jesus. 

“Before his blindness, he was a rich merchant.  He sold goods at the market, and had a fine house and a good wife” said Peter.  

 “He lost much then, when he lost his sight” said Jesus. 

“Yes.  His partners had been cheating him, and now took the opportunity to steal everything.  And they told lies about his business dealings, and so many people came and demanded money from him.  They burnt his house to the ground.” said Peter. 

 “Even his wife left him for another.  She said that he was no longer fit to be a husband. She said that he could not provide for her like a man should.  So she left him.” 

“Such a rich and powerful man, but then he was forced to beg for food, which he did not like I suppose?” asked Jesus. 

“No indeed” said Peter.    He had been a proud man – wealthy and successful.  He did not have to ask for favours from others, or depend on their gifts or generosity.  But when he went blind his pride was crushed terribly.” 

 “Do you think that perhaps he might have been blind for many years? But in a different way?” asked Jesus. 

“I don’t understand” said Peter. 

“As you said, his friends were not really friends – but he did not see that” said Jesus.  “That is, in a way, a sort of blindness.” 

 “True” said Peter. 

“And his wife – if she had married him for his love then she would not have left when he went blind.  She left because the thing she had married – his riches – were gone.  He was no doubt saddened by this because he had thought she loved him” said Jesus. 

Peter had to agree. 

“So he was a little blind there too” suggested Jesus. 

“I suppose so” said Peter. 

“Maybe” said Jesus. “Maybe he was blind in still other ways even though at the time he still had his sight.    You say that he did not depend on others, or their generosity.  But that was not so.  He was a merchant.  Where did his goods come from?  He depended on others to supply him with his goods, and then on still more others to buy them at an increased cost.  He depended on others to provide him with food, and clothes, and even the house that he owned.” 

“Yes, but he bought the goods, and his customers paid him money….” began Peter.  He was about to say that he was a ‘self-made man’ but thought better of it. 

“But without his suppliers, and those people who bought from him, he would have had nothing” said Jesus.  “He might have felt himself to be a ‘self-made’ man,” his eyes twinkled “but he would have been blind to the truth.” 

“Ok” said Peter.    “Maybe I can understand why God stuck him blind.  But still, it was cruel.  He wasn’t a bad man – not like some.  He didn’t hurt others, or even cheat them.  Making him blind was a cruel punishment.” 

Jesus looked at Peter.    “Ah, you understand do you?” 

Peter knew, at this moment, that he obviously didn’t. 

“I was just suggesting to you” said Jesus, “that perhaps that old man had been blind for a long time, and that when sight went from his eyes it was perhaps just the final blindness.  But I didn’t say his blindness was a punishment from our Lord.” 

Peter looked startled.  “But, surely, that’s what you said – what you meant.  When you cured him of his blindness? 

 “You said ‘your sins are forgiven’ and then suddenly he could see again.  You are truly the Son of God, and you forgave him his sins, so the punishment was ended.”   

“Ah” said Jesus.    “that is what you think.” 

They had been walking for a while, and had wandered near to a stone wall.   Jesus sat and beckoned Peter to do the same.  The two men sat on the ground, backs to the wall.   

“Sometimes Peter” said Jesus “people forget what a wonderfully loving God the Lord really is.  They think of Him as though he were a great warrior - the all-powerful creator-punisher.  His wroth is unimaginable.  His cruelty unbearable.  His will is the supreme law of which any transgression will bring terrible, terrible suffering.” 

He sighed. 

“But Peter, they forget that he is a God of love.  He loves his children. He does not hate them.  He does not want to punish, but to forgive.  He WILL forgive.” 

Peter shook his head.  “I don’t understand.  Are you saying that the old man was not blinded as a punishment?” he asked. 

“Of course” said Jesus.    “The old man had cataracts.” 

“Catracks?” asked Peter. 

“Never mind” said Jesus.    “It is hard to explain – demons in his eyes.” 

“Put there by God” said Peter. 

Jesus sighed.   This was going to be difficult. 

  “Look,” said Jesus.  “If a man holds your hand in the fire, who is to blame? God or the man?” 

“The man” said Peter confidently, glad to be able to get something right. 

“Exactly, so if a man loses his sight because of ill health, who is to blame?” 

“God?” said Peter uncertainly.  “Surely if you forgive his sins and then he can see, well, then it MUST be due to the punishment being lifted by God?” 

“Look at it like this”, said Jesus, “Perhaps it is not the lifting of a punishment BY God, but a gift FROM God - the pure healing power of the greatest love that can be. 

“Not everything unpleasant that happens is a punishment from God” said Jesus.   


“When I tell someone that their sins are forgiven, it is not idle chit chat.  It is fact.  It is a direct communication from the Lord.  And it can only occur if they are prepared to accept the forgiveness.” 

Peter tried not to look puzzled. 

“But when they do accept it, it is like the freshness of the first spring breeze, or clear water flowing across the rocks.    It is like another baptism, as if they are made new – re-made.  All of their old problems, their old troubles just seem to dissolve. 

 “Many have sicknesses, or deformities, but there are causes of these other than punishment by the One who loves us.” 

Peter tried harder not to look puzzled.   

“The important thing is that you stop attributing everything unpleasant that happens to a punishment by God” said Jesus.  

“If you say so” said Peter “but what about that baby – the one which was born last week.  It had the face of a devil and rasped and hissed like a snake.  You forgave its mother her sins and the baby changed that same moment.  The evil look departed and it giggled and gurgled happily.  Surely that was the lifting of a punishment on the mother?” asked Peter. 

“Do you really believe that the Lord who loves us all would be so cruel to the innocent child just to punish its mother?” asked Jesus. 

“Well…” began Peter. 

“Listen.  No - listen. Carefully.  Because it is important that you understand this Peter” said Jesus, firmly but patiently. 

“That baby suffered from a bronchial infection – er, I mean ‘demons of the air’. I forgave his mother her sins - it is true - with the authority given to me by the Father.  When she accepted that forgiveness, the force of His love was so strong that both mother and baby were made clean and pure, healthy and strong.” 

“Because the demons – the broken reflections – were washed away” said Peter, a little light dawning. 

“Exactly.  Our Father’s love is the strongest, most durable force that there is.  It is the greatest healer, and the greatest medicine” Jesus said. 

“And nothing can stand in its way” said Peter.  “Not even catracks.” 

“No,” laughed Jesus.    “Not even catracks.”  




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