Jesus, healing a leper? Amazing! Jesus, forgiving sin? Blasphemy? In His synagogue teaching Jesus clearly applied Old Testament Messianic passages to Himself. He had come to heal the sick and release the captives! But how would he do this? People wanted to know the nature of the man and the method of his work.
In Luke 5:16-26 Jesus revealed both his method: He was willing to get very close to sick people, and his beliefs concerning his authority: he would forgive sins without the need for sacrifice! The religious leaders who had gathered to hear him and see his miracles were willing to accept his miraculous ministry. They couldn’t deny the testimony of the recently healed (the leper) and the public nature of his daily miracles. But now Jesus had crossed the line, he had usurped an authority rightly claimed by God alone.
Remember the Jewish context and the ever present Temple just down the road. The Jewish leaders rightly knew that only God could forgive sins and God required certain sacrifices in order to forgive-that’s what the entire Law of Moses thing was all about! From their perspective Jesus was an outlaw and maverick who had just recklessly abolished the necessity of Levitical sacrifices! Nothing could be more offensive to these leaders!
Jesus responded to their righteous outrage by connecting the supreme level of his miraculous power to the Supreme authority he claimed to have. Which is easier to say to a man: “Rise up and walk!”, or “Your sins are forgiven!” ?
The leaders were supposed to think it through. What kind of a man and prophet can so effortlessly heal? Surely more than just a man and just a prophet!
But what is more than man and prophet?