Who Can Forgive?

Who has the authority to forgive sins? We have offended a holy God, who must judge wickedness and rebellion. No mere man pronounces forgiveness of sins to another in the name of God. But Jesus was not ordinary man, as this passage indicates. First, He called the man, “Son.” Since Jesus Himself was only about thirty years old at this time, and we have no evidence that the paralytic was a youth, this form of address hints at a sense of authority on Jesus’ part. Then, He pronounces forgiveness. Nowhere in the Bible do we have anyone else – not Moses, not any of the prophets – simply telling a sinner that his sins were forgiven. Jesus well knew that only God can pardon offenders against His holy law. Jesus points further to His extraordinary status by saying, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins…” Though “Son of Man” could have several different meanings, on Jesus’ lips it almost certainly refers to the Son of Man in Daniel, who “was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion…” (Daniel 7:14). Finally, the Lord confirmed His authority to forgive sins by healing the paralyzed man with a simple command. Who can forgive sins? Jesus, the eternal Son of God, who became Son of Man, “God with us” in order to save His people from their sins” (1:23, 21).