Luke 5:17-26: Jesus Can Forgive Sins

Read: Luke 5:17-26

Jesus’ teaching ministry not only drew the common people, it also attracted a large number of Pharisees and “teachers of the law” too. Both these groups were zealous about the the Law of Moses so they knew it well and had no tolerance for blasphemers. Jesus was teaching while these experts were looking on when a group of men brought a friend of theirs to be healed. The house was crowded, so they went up top, moved away the roofing tiles and lowered him in right in front of Jesus. This undoubtedly made quite a raucous, nevertheless Jesus was impressed by their faith that he could heal the man and how it drove them to unconventional means just to get a chance.

But Jesus doesn’t heal the man right away. Instead, he tells the man that his sins are forgiven, which causes quite a stir in an event that has already been in spectacle. The Pharisees accuse Jesus of blasphemy because they rightfully point out that only God can forgive sins. What they didn’t understand though was that Jesus is God. But Jesus asks a rhetorical question in response. The reality is that both saying “Your sins are forgiven” and “Rise up and walk” were both impossible for any mere man to say – only God could do these things. One was not easier than the other, and the Pharisees and scribes knew this. The difference is that they could not see that his sins were forgiven, but they could see a man get up and walk, so again, Jesus speaks and the man is healed.

Jesus, however, tags his demonstration of his authority to forgive sins with the title “Son of Man”. This is the first of 25 times that this title appears in the gospel of Luke. Why Jesus used this title is not certain, but it could be because of its twofold significance from the Old Testament that affairs his humanity and his divinity, which is the case here in Luke 5 where Jesus as a man is doing things that only God can do. “Son of man” as a reference to humanity is found all over the Old Testament, but a few examples are Psalm 8:4, Psalm 80:17, and 90 times in the book of Ezekiel. The reference to “son of man” as divine is found in Daniel 7:13-14, which was one “like a son of man” that was given kingship over the world. Jesus alludes to this text in Matthew 26:64 and Matthew 24:30. Both if these verses and the surrounding texts points to Jesus being the Son of Man that is spoken of in Daniel.

Often times, Christians come wanting something from God knows that they need most. God though, in his providence supplies what people need because he is able. The one universal thing that every person needs is forgiveness from sin, which Jesus is able to forgive because he is God. For this reason, no matter what one asks God for, he or she can always ask God for forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says that God is faithful and will forgive all unrighteousness for that reason.

Lord, I need forgiveness!

Forgive me from my sins!

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