The Way Forward is Toward Redemption

By Michaela O’Donnell

May 24, 2020

Scripture: Luke 5:20 (NIV) 

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”


In yesterday’s devotion I reflected on what the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man teaches us about finding a way when your plans don’t work. Today, I want to look at the next verse in the passage. It’s such a mind-boggling verse to me.

When the friends lowered the man down into the house, the text says that “having seen their faith,” Jesus says to the paralyzed man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Now, up until this point in the day, Jesus had presumably been healing people from physical ailments. That’s probably why the man and his friends were so desperate to get to him. But, now, in a plot twist, Jesus forgives this man’s sins. Importantly, the man isn’t yet able to get up and walk—making it clear that Jesus doesn’t link together his paralysis and his sins.

But then, sensing that the people in the room were wondering about Jesus’ ability to forgive sins, Jesus does something really interesting. The text says that Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?  Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?” (Luke 5:22-23). The thing that the Pharisees thought was most important was in fact not the most important thing to Jesus.  For Jesus, the ultimate gift was redemption.

You may know that Jesus goes on to also heal the man physically. The friends and the man had come so that Jesus might heal his body. Jesus was there to heal, but also to broaden people’s imaginations about redemption. For Jesus, the way forward is always toward redemption.


Have you ever had a time when you cared deeply about something only to realize that maybe God’s priorities were a bit different? As you think about your life, how are your daily actions in line with God’s priority of redemption? Where might you realign?


Go for a walk and consider how the theme of redemption plays out in the physical space you’re in—what do you notice about the plants and trees, neighbors, city buildings? How can your environment invite you to notice God’s priority of redemption?


Loving God, thank you for being a God of redemption. Remind me—in small ways and large—to calibrate my own way forward in light of your redemptive heart. Help me to notice and care about the things you care about most. Help me to live my life in a way that reflects these priorities. Amen.

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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Best of Daily Reflections: Walking Around in the Skin of the Crowd

Michaela O’Donnell

Mary and Dale Andringa Executive Director

Dr. Michaela O’Donnell is the Mary and Dale Andringa Executive Director Chair of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership and Assistant Professor of Marketplace Leadership at Fuller Seminary. She oversees the De Pree Center’s vision, strategy, program, and team, all with the goal of helping l...

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