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They have always puzzled me and I fail to understand what is what.

Luke 5:20-23

When Jesus saw their faith he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Then the experts in the law and the Pharisees began to think to themselves, “Who is this man who is uttering blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their hostile thoughts, he said to them, “Why are you raising objections within yourselves? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’?

Knowing that Jesus is Son of God: what is the difference between these two sentences, which prompted Jesus to say them? Which statement is the easier to say?

It is becomes more puzzling when Jesus says the second sentence.

Luke 5:24-25

But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – he said to the paralyzed man – “I tell you, stand up, take your stretcher and go home.” Immediately he stood up before them, picked up the stretcher he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God.

It is not clear whether Jesus said the easier one or the tougher one. Why He did not say the first: that is, “your sins are forgiven?”

Is it that this sentence was easier to say?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Jesus is here asking the Pharisees a rhetorical question, that is - what would be easier for him to say if he was not God. The answer is simple - it is easier for a mere man to say "Your sins are forgiven", because there is no outward immediate manifestation. It is much more difficult to say "Stand up and walk", because it would be readily apparent that Jesus was not able to back up his power, were he only a man.

As John Gill writes:

Neither of them could be said by a mere man, with effect, so as that sins would be really remitted on so saying; or that a man sick of a palsy, by such a word speaking, would be able to stand upon his feet and walk; but both of them were equally easy to him, that is truly God; and he that could say the one effectually, could also say the other: or in other words, he that could cure a man of a palsy with a word speaking, ought not to be charged with blasphemy, for taking upon him to forgive sin: our Lord meant, by putting this question, and acting upon it, to prove himself to be God, and to remove the imputation of blasphemy from him

When Jesus says the second part, that is:

But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – he said to the paralyzed man – “I tell you, stand up, take your stretcher and go home.”

He is demonstrating to the Pharisees that he is who he says he is, that he has the power to forgive and the power to heal.

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Wow. It’s too apparent now. Every time when I used to come across these verses I used to get bogged down, figuring what it could be. Thanks for enlightening me. – Seek forgiveness Mar 5 '13 at 6:33
Welcome to the site. +1 Good answer. – Narnian Mar 5 '13 at 17:45
@Narnian - thanks! Been around for awhile, just now got around to actually participating. – SSumner Mar 5 '13 at 18:03

In this story, it is important to note that people in that culture often associated illness with God's judgment. In John 9, the disciples ask Jesus "Who sinned?" when they see a man who was blind from birth. So, someone with an illness or handicap not only had to deal with the ailment, but also burden of wondering what sin caused them to be experiencing the judgment of God.

Illness and disability is the result of sin in general (original sin)--not necessarily a specific sin (although certain sins can expose an individual to risk).

Jesus sees through the physical need to the spiritual need and addresses that first. However, in forgiving a person's sins, there is no visible evidence that anyone else could observe to verify His authority to do so.

If Jesus were, in fact, God, however, He could not only forgive the sin itself, but would also have the power over the effects of sin. Jesus proves His authority over the effects of sin by physically healing the man, proving that He also has the authority to forgive the man of his sins as will, which is a spiritual issue.

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Jesus was the first representitive of the church on earth. He is now the head of the church in heaven and all members of His church on earth are his body. All authority in heaven and earth are under his feet and, because His church is His body, this same authority is given by Him to be under the feet of His church here on earth today.

In this event in Luke Jesus is demonstrating to the religious legalists of His time, and today, the authority which members of His church have been given as a result of His sacrifice and their belief. (Matthew 9:8), through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, gives additional information to this event; "But when the multitudes saw it they marveled and glorified God which HAD GIVEN SUCH POWER TO MEN" The authority to forgive sins is given to believing members of His church today. The risen Jesus instructs us to do this (John 20:23)

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Welcome to the site! Generally it's a good idea when commentating on scripture here to include some reference to an outside commentary to show that your interpretation is consistent with an established christian group (and we like to see references). – wax eagle Jun 4 '13 at 14:25

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