The famous story has a point that is not always well elucidated. At the core of this interaction, Jesus is making an astonishing claim. When he says, “Your sins are forgiven,” Jesus is making an implicit claim to be God. The scribes understand this is what Jesus is saying, by remarking “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” The logic of this connection is quite often lost on people today.
Think of it like this. If someone hits you, then you can offer them forgiveness. But if someone hits you, and a bystander looks at the person who hits you and says, “I forgive you,” then that would strike you as at the very least strange. What has that person done to the bystander that they can offer them forgiveness? The reason why Jesus’ claim is so outrageous is he is saying that all sin, done against anyone, is ultimately against God. “Against you and you only have I sinned,” as David prayed after committing adultery and murder (Psalm 51:4), because ultimately that sin was against God. And because all sin is ultimately against God, it is also ultimately against Jesus—for Jesus is also God!
Jesus then heals the man, in order to prove to those watching that he does have the power to forgive sins.
The other aspect of this story, though not its main point, is nonetheless not to be missed: the friends who brought him. Given that Jesus is this amazing person that we now know that he is—and which they then dimly perceived him to be—how much more must we do all we can to “bring people to Jesus”! Who is there in your own life that you could first pray for and then second invite to hear the gospel preached? It might be difficult to bring them, but go to great lengths—as these friends of this man did—to bring your friends to Jesus too!
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