When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
Indeed, who can forgive sins but God only? And if God was here forgiving sins among this multitude of people, what exactly did that mean to those present in that house that day? To the sick of the palsy, and perhaps his friends also, it meant the greatest gift we can ever receive. It meant forgiveness of sin. It meant a pardon from the lips of God. It meant freedom from sin and its power over him. It meant the ultimate release from the grips of something that paralyzes us spiritually and keeps us unable to get to God. It means, finally, redemption and, therefore, a relationship with God.
To the scribes, this was a hard thing to hear. This statement from Jesus tore at their hearts even as their unbelief erected a barrier between them and God. And so to them, this was blasphemy, a serious offense to the God they claimed to serve. To them it was a reason to scoff and find fault, to attack and seek the destruction of Jesus. To them it was another proof that this man had to be silenced at any cost. To them it was an excuse to reject Him because the true condition of their hearts was not for Him, but against Him.
To the multitude, it meant hope had arrived. Here had been a man who couldn’t walk when he arrived who went home by his own two feet. Here had been a man who was separated from God by his sin who went home forgiven. And if this man could come to Jesus with the faith to be healed, then surely they could come to Him themselves and find healing and forgiveness of their own. Here was their own chance for redemption and freedom and new life. It meant all that was wrong within them could be made right by Jesus, who was there among them with the power and authority to forgive the sins of men.
So, what does it mean to us? Does it mean joy because we’ve already been to Jesus and received His forgiveness for ourselves? Does it mean nothing to us because we’ve rejected God and refused to believe in His Son as our Savior? Does it mean hope and possibility because we see that we can believe in Him but have not yet done so? If we’ve been forgiven, we’ll go rejoicing on our way. We can go forward into new lives of living for Christ day by day. But if not, rejecting Jesus as the Son of God, rejecting Him as Savior will only cause us to go away the same as we came—still unwhole and still in our sins. So let’s take a step toward Jesus and receive the forgiveness He freely offers to us.