The Authority of Jesus

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

Matthew 9:1-8

Jesus returns to His home town and has the opportunity to demonstrate the fact that He has unique authority from God, and He demonstrates this in a unique way. Some men brought a paralyzed man to Jesus on a mat, undoubtedly hoping that Jesus would heal their friend. Jesus did so, showing us another aspect of the Kingdom; where the Kingdom goes, there is forgiveness of sins, and Jesus, seeing the faith of all involved went to the paralyzed man and forgave his sins.

If we take the long view, the forgiving of a person’s sins is a much greater form of healing than enabling the person to walk again, for the forgiveness of sins brings a healing to our relationship with God and with it, eternal life.

There were some teachers of the law on hand, and being good lawyers, they thought to themselves, “Why this is blasphemy,” since only God can forgive sins, and if Jesus were just some guy, they would be right. But Jesus was not just some guy; He was God in the flesh. Knowing their thoughts, He went to them and asked them a remarkable series of questions:

“Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 

When you think about it, anyone who didn’t care about the Law could tell the man his sins had been forgiven, lie though it might be, and pretend to have done something great… if the person was just putting on a show, but Jesus, in an effort to prove His authority volunteers for the next and impossible to fake step; He tells the man to get up, take his mat and go home… and that is what the paralyzed man did, for he had been made whole again in body as well as in spirit.

Once again, we see what comes with the Kingdom; the broken being returned to wholeness.

The crowd was filled with awe and praised God; but did the teachers of the law join in?

I pose this as a rhetorical question because there is no way for us to be certain one way or the other for the text doesn’t say… but I sure would like to know!

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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5 Responses to The Authority of Jesus

  1. Pingback: The Authority of Jesus | Finding Meaning

  2. sheppaja says:

    Excellent question and my answer is just my opinion but what I see is that the religious teachers kept themselves separate from the people and their sins feeling superior because of their knowledge of the law even though they were too sinners. Yet they did not want to acknowledge their own sins and need of salvation because then they would have to acknowledge that they were no better than those who they judged by the law.

    • Don Merritt says:

      You might well be right; of course it’s still early in the story. I’m not sure they knew what to do about Jesus yet, but hen on the other hand…? Makes it fun to study 🙂

  3. paulfg says:

    Love this repartee: “Do you want me to be God … or do you want me to be God … ?

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