PassageIn this passage Jesus is teaching, and doing some healing, and some friends of a paralyzed man want to take this opportunity to have Jesus heal the man. Unfortunately, they can’t get to him, because the crowd is too thick. So they decide to go up onto the roof, move aside some tiles, and lower the man down to Jesus. Jesus, seeing their faith, says “Man, your sins are forgiven you” (verse 20 (ESV)).
Along with the crowd, however, are some scribes and Pharisees, and they see this as blasphemy. Because, after all, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (verse 21 (ESV)). But Jesus knows what they’re thinking, and asks them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” And then, to prove his power, he tells the paralyzed man to stand up, pick up his bed, and go home. So that’s just what the man does—glorifying God all the way.
The people are understandably amazed at this, and also start glorifying God, and saying that they’ve seen some amazing things on this day.
ThoughtsThere is a sense in which the scribes and Pharisees are correct, and their question is a correct one: Who can forgive sins but God alone? If anyone other than Jesus had been speaking, they would have been blaspheming. Jesus’ point is not that it’s okay to say things like this; his point is that the scribes and Pharisees need to see what he’s doing, listen to what he’s saying, and understand that Jesus is God, and therefore stands alone as the one person who is able to forgive someone’s sins.
Obviously they never got the message; I highly doubt that the scribes and Pharisees were part of the crowd who were glorifying God at the end of this passage. I don’t think they ever gave Jesus credit for having any kind of fellowship with God, and wouldn’t have seen this act as being an act of God, but rather the act of a charlatan.