“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”” (Mark 2:10–12, ESV)
I can honestly say that I have never heard anyone say directly, and for that matter never heard second hand, of anyone who claimed that they could forgive my sins [or the sins of anyone else]. The claim that Jesus makes here is such an outlier and so unusual and unexpected and frankly unbelievable, that it makes one stop and think. Did everyone listening catch their breath as the implications of what he was claiming zipped into their brain housing group? [sorry a Marine term].
“Did I just hear what I thought I heard?” Did he just say…?” “Wait, what? I thought only God could do that?” The careful reader begins to realize that the scribes and pharisees, for all their curmudgeonliness, just might have an argument. Who did this guy think that he was? Everyone knows that only God can forgive sins!
One thing for sure, when Jesus made a claim about himself, he went all in. “All in” in an epic, out-of-this-world, if-I’m-lying-it-will-become-obvious sense. [I have] “authority on earth to forgive sins,” is as outlandish a statement as has ever been made on this green earth.
Here’s the thing: just when you think that you’ve finally nailed down this guy, when he’s finally made a claim that he cannot back up, he does even more crazy stuff. He heals a guy who has been blind since birth; he raises Lazarus from the dead after 4 days!! in the grave; he prophesies that he will be put to death and then he is; and he rises from the dead on the third day. Again and again he does these extraordinary, amazing, unbelievable things that don’t fit into the “this guy is such a faker” mold.
The ultimate and amazing thing here is not that Jesus said that he could forgive sins, it’s that he compels us to believe, by his miracles and words, that he can forgive sins. How can we do anything else except fall to our knees and say “my Lord and my God?”