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the first victory over sins

And getting into a boat he [Jesus] crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And take note, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home.  When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. Matthew 9: 1-8

Two things hit us between the eyes when we read the incident in bold above.

The first one is what Jesus said to the paralyzed man as soon as he saw him: “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”

The second is the unusual title which Jesus gave to himself: ….. the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….
‘He who made man was made man.’ (Anon.)

On the first thing that hits us between the eyes, (your sins are forgiven) C S Lewis (in his best seller Mere Christianity) had this to say –

One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins.

Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you.

But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? …

Yet this is what Jesus did… He unhesitatingly behaved as if he was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences.

This makes sense only if he really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin…

You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lotrd and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

‘With the exception of being sinful, everything that can be said about a man can be said about Jesus Christ.’ (James Montgomery Boice, teacher and broadcaster, 1938-2000)

On the second thing which hits us between the eyes (the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins), we need to go back to around BC 600 and a civil servant named Daniel whose extended career served several Emperors in Babylon, 600 miles away from his home city of Jerusalem.

Daniel’s writings have been preserved by the Jews since that time and are in the National Archives of Israel (as well as in the Christian Bible Old Testament). The community of Qumran (c. BC 170 - which produced the Dead Sea Scrolls) also regarded Daniel’s book as authentic and canonical.

Here is what he wrote about the Son of Man –

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of Man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.

And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

To the scribes who were present when Jesus said “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven” he was blaspheming and when he used Daniel’s phrase “the Son of Man…” the time had come to rid their thoughts and time of this man.

Jesus travelled incognito. Folk make up their own minds.
Richard Syvret

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