And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
Was that the problem of the Pharisees—that they thought of Jesus as only a prophet, and a false and blasphemous one at that? He had done things that prophets had done before, like raising a man from the dead, performing miracles and signs. That wasn’t really something that was unique in the history of Israel. Moses, Elisha, and Elijah, among many others, had done marvelous works that brought the power of God down to Earth. They’d also given the Word of God and taught people what He was saying. And God had used them for many different purposes.
But forgiving sins was outside the realm of a prophet. That had never been part of the job description. That was an area reserved for God alone. So at first, the Pharisees may have accepted Jesus as a possible prophet. But now Jesus is doing and saying things that equate Him to God. This is when it becomes evident that Jesus is not just a teacher, not just a prophet, not just someone sent by God, but He is the Son of God, God Himself among them. And that is a very important distinction.
So as Jesus’ popularity was spreading and everyone was talking about Him, all the people are trying to decide who He really is. And maybe Simon the Pharisee has Jesus over to try to get a feel for who He is and to try to determine if the rumors about Jesus are valid. So they have a meal, and a sinful woman comes and anoints the feet of Jesus and weeps at His feet, and Jesus has this discourse with Simon, telling a parable about forgiving a debt and the love that results from that. And He tells the woman her sins are forgiven, and it is that that proves exactly who Jesus is.
Today, as back then, there are many opinions about who Jesus is. There are some who would consider Him only a teacher or only a prophet among many other prophets and teachers. But Jesus is singular for many reasons, one of the main ones being that He truly did have the power to forgive sins, because He was God in the flesh. And we can sit back in our pride and doubt and deny, or we can believe Jesus and go in peace, like that woman, with our sins forgiven. More than anything, it seemed, the Pharisees didn’t want Jesus to be who He said He was. But more than anything, we need Him to be exactly who He said He is. And thankfully Jesus is true and we do have a Savior who can forgive all of our sins and set us free.