Saturday, December 3, 2022

Handout - Matthew Chapter 9:1-8 - Your Sins Are Forgiven

by Stan Feldsine (

Matthew 9:1-8 - Your Sins Are Forgiven

This event is another notable milestone in the ministry of Jesus. In the healing of the leper in the previous chapter, Jesus threw a grenade in the laps of the religious leaders when He commanded the healed leper to go to the religious leaders and have them confirm his healing according to the law. That event causes the religious leaders to begin an investigation into what Jesus was doing.

When Jesus arrived in Capernaum, the scribes and Pharisees were with the crowd investigating when Jesus healed the paralytic. They had come from "every village" (Luk 5:17, Mat 9:3). As Jesus is teaching, the paralytic's four friends lowered their friend down to Jesus, and Jesus comments on the faith of the four friends. With an audience of many Pharisees and scribes, Jesus tells the man his sins are forgiven. Jesus was quite aware that this statement would raise the attention of the religious leaders, and indeed, they accused Him of blasphemy (Luk 5:20-21).

The background for this comes from the description of atonement in Leviticus 4-6 which details the conditions for the forgiveness of sins, and it is clear that the one providing the forgiveness is God Himself, with the priests only facilitating it (Lev 4:19-20, Lev 4:26, Lev 5:10, Lev 5:13). Only God can forgive sins. The people brought the offerings to the priests, the priests facilitated the offerings, and God forgave sins accordingly Isa 43:25, Isa 55:6-7).

When Jesus made the statement, "your sins are forgiven you", He was assuming the role that only God had as the one who could forgive sins. Jesus was implicitly claiming to be God, and that is why the religious leaders accused Him of blasphemy. Only God could forgive sins.

Hendrickson: "Only He [God] knows what is going on in the heart of man, whether or not He has truly repented. Basically, therefore, no one else has the right and the power to grant absolution. The scribes were right in considering the remission of sins to be a divine prerogative."

The question of which is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or rise and walk clearly would show that it is easier to say something for which there is no visible evidence. Saying rise and walk demands the evidence of the man rising and walking. But the real impact of this statement is if Jesus was truly blaspheming, how then would it be possible for Him to bring about a healing? (Joh 9:31). The purpose of this event was not to tell the scribes and Pharisees that they were wrong about the fact that only God could forgive, rather Jesus's intent was to demonstrate that He was King, divine, and deity, and had the authority to forgive sins accordingly Mat 9:6).

Jesus referred to Himself as "the Son of Man" frequently through the gospels. This is a reference to Dan 7:13-14. This in an "in your face" affront to the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus is self identifying as the King whom every language will worship, and who's dominion is everlasting, and whose kingdom will never be destroyed.

Never the less, the people, watching intently to see if the man would rise and walk, were astonished and praised Jesus as God. We can see in this the consternation of the religious leadership who viewed Jesus as a blasphemer while the people were accepting Jesus as King. The people were amazed as they had never seen anything like this before, the forgiveness of sin validated by miraculous healings (Mar 2:12).

As in the case with the healing of the leper in Matt 8, Jesus was challenging the religious leadership of Israel to pay attention to Himself and make a decision to accept the King and Kingdom or reject it.