Addressing the teachers of the law after He forgave the paralytic, Jesus said, “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home. And the man got up and went home.”
All that Jesus said and did, He did so that we might know the Father through Him. The Father both has grace to forgive sin and the authority to forgive sins. The Father has both the power to heal and the authority to heal. So Jesus says and acts. As He testifies, “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it,” and, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
So all that Jesus did – and that includes every miracle, sign and wonder – was done so that we might know the Father. That we might know His character, His grace, His forgiveness, His welcome back to His household – and that not as mere slaves, but as His beloved children. This applies too with the healing of the paralytic. Jesus’ own testimony is that it was not done primarily for the paralytic himself – although that clearly is also His grace. It was done so that the people there – the teachers of the law, the spectators, the future readers of the Gospel accounts AND also the paralytic – might know that the Lord has authority to forgive sins on earth as well as in heaven.
That would’ve been a revelation to all who heard it. They all understood that God was forgiving. Not only from their Scriptures, but because of people daily went to the temple to make sacrifices for forgiveness. In fact, God’s forgiveness was wound up in Jewish life through the festivals and Day of Atonement. Yet all of that forgiveness was promissory. It was a ‘hoped for’ and ‘trusting Him for’ forgiveness. It was not fully realized forgiveness. How could it? Their sacrifices for sins did not wash sins away, but merely covered over them in faith that one day they would be washed away. Consequently, when Jesus tells the paralytic that his sins are forgiven, and then immediately goes on to ‘prove’ His authority with a miracle (testifying of God’s approval for both Him and the paralytic), a wave of revelation would’ve washed over the people watching/listening.
John Peter Lange wrote, “The power of forgiving sins is a strictly Divine privilege, as the Jews rightly supposed, and could be claimed by Christ only on the ground of His Divine nature.”
And this is the rub. Jesus is not just healing someone. He is not just forgiving someone. He is not just demonstrating the power of God to forgive someone. He is demonstrating His divine nature – or at the very least, demonstrating His profound connection with the divine nature of God.
The spectators to the miracle of the paralytic are immediately made aware that Jesus is not merely a prophet. He is far beyond that office. The crowd around Jesus becomes aware that there is a reality about forgiveness they had never before realized. They don’t have to wait till God’s Kingdom is fully manifested to walk in complete forgiveness. They can do that right now, because God is right there among them! For those wanting forgiveness, waiting for forgiveness and hoping for forgiveness, this is a truth that changes everything. It frees people. They no longer live in fear of God’s wrath, but will from that point live in love and appreciation of Him.
Those who welcome the revelation of God’s presence are immediately filled with joy and gladness. For those who reject the reality of God’s presence however, this is obviously a very problematic event – one that requires a summary judgment.
Grasping the God’s presence breaking into our world always has this result, because there is no longer any middle ground in your theology when God is present. Either we recognize that He is there and repentance and joy are the order of the day, or we reject that He is there, and anger and judgment flood our minds.
The earthly life of Jesus less as a humiliation than a revelation of Divine glory, the beams of which shine forth clearly in His wondrous works.H.R. Mackintosh
Worship Christ for who He has revealed Himself. God in the flesh, our Messiah!