An excerpt from “The Holy One Called Isa,” by Pastor Ward Clinton:
2:7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?
In Jewish theology even the Messiah could not forgive sins and they were sure that Jesus was committing shirk. However if He really is who He claimed to be then disbelieving is the worst type of shirk of all. Al-Masihu-Isa (Jesus) is kalimat Allah and wadjih (worthy of esteem in this world and the next) according to the Quran.
2:8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
2:9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
Since they believed that a person’s sins needed to be forgiven before they could be healed He has chosen to force them to engage their brains. One purpose of the miracles was to testify to the people precisely who Jesus truly is.
2:10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
2:11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
2:12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
Jesus saw their faith, He may have smiled as he looked at a faith strong enough to overcome the obstacles and then He looked at the Scribes – the ones who should have had faith. Now, in part, these fellows were doing their job; they were scrutinizing this itinerant Rabbi to make sure his teaching was okay. But these were sitting there watching for what they considered to be the slightest mistake so they could blow it all out of proportion rather than allowing themselves to be moved by the working of God which was happening right before their very eyes.
The religious leadership made a connection between sin and disease, not entirely unfounded, but they were a bit misguided. To them a sick man was a man who had sinned. They had already heard Jesus preach; they had already seen Jesus heal. Still they seemed quite unmoved. Now Jesus won’t allow anyone to remain neutral towards Him. He has decided to up the ante, therefore he said, “Child your sins are forgiven.” He has just challenged them head on with that phrase. They were of the belief that the sin had to be forgiven before one could be healed. But anyone is capable of saying “your sins are forgiven” and how can it be proved whether the statement was effective or not? Now on the other hand, to tell the man to get up and walk would demonstrate then and there the authority, effectiveness, and reliability of His word. Therefore in the tenth verse Jesus lets them know they have to make a choice to either believe in Him or disbelieve. He has hoisted these experts in the law on their own petard. It is on their own traditions and stated beliefs this man could not be cured unless he was forgiven. In effect Jesus has said, “you say I have no right to forgive sins? You believe that if this man is sick, he is a sinner and cannot be cured until he is forgiven? Okay, watch this!” Jesus spoke the word and the man was cured, therefore he must be forgiven and Jesus’ claim to be able to forgive sin must be true.
Jesus probably left them in a baffled rage. Here was something that had to be dealt with; if this were allowed to continue all their rules and regulations would be turned on their head; maybe even worse, proven to be completely out of step with their Holy Scripture. So, with this incident, Jesus has signed His own death warrant and He is fully aware of it. However He is also trying to correct their understanding of God.
They had the Torah (the uncorrupted holy word from the one true God), they knew that God will not let sinners remain unpunished, but they had forgotten that the Torah also showed them a God who desired to exercise mercy and forgiveness. Remember the pouting prophet in the Old Testament who whined, “I didn’t want to warn those people because I knew You are a merciful God”?
Today, most seem to know that God forgives but they forget there are conditions that must be met… God is holy and just, as well as merciful and forgiving. He calls us into a holy, loving relationship with Himself which requires that sin be shunned, not embraced with a “Oh well, I’m only human” shrug of the shoulders.