Jesus shows us, through the paralyzed man, what the Christian life is all about. The Christian life is not about having it good in this world. It’s not about being free from disease, pain, poverty, and the like. If that’s what the Christian life is all about, if that’s what makes someone a Christian, then there are no Christians! There isn’t a single person anywhere in the world who can honestly say that they are free from anxiety, pain, disease, weariness, or any other problem. Everyone, despite economic status, gender, age, or any other demographic, struggles with something. And all of that proves what Jesus shows in this healing of the paralytic. What we really need is not the elimination of all problems. What we need is forgiveness. That is to say, what we need is Jesus.
Christmas is coming. Think back to your childhood Christmases, when grandma bought you socks. She loved you. She didn’t want you to have cold, wet feet. She didn’t want you to catch pneumonia. At least, that’s what my grandma always told me when, I opened the package intentionally forgotten, hoping I wouldn’t have to open it in front of everyone. Socks are practical. But at Christmas, who wants practical gifts? We want fun gifts—electronics, money, big-ticket items that can impress. But how long after Christmas morning are those gifts forgotten? Socks you wear every day. But that bag of socks is still disappointing.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.