Summary: Jesus has the authority to forgive sins
Power over Sin
In 1938 a German leader was awarded the title: Time’s person of the year. He took a nation from post-war defeatism and gave it new life. He unified a divided country and turned a broken people into a military super-power. For many Adolf Hilter was considered a hero, most of them were German but still. It didn’t take long for the hero to become the villain even in the eyes of his own people. Hitler may have started off with the right idea, to restore and establish his country but along the way it went terribly wrong.
Look at Luke 5:17 Jesus has been traveling around the Sea of Galilee preaching. As He traveled from town to town He came across a leper. Jesus reached out and touched this leper and he was healed. People start hearing that Jesus heals people without deductibles or co-pay and the crowds start swarming to Him. They want to be entertained, to be wowed; they want to see something amazing.
A few days after healing the leper Jesus went to Capernaum and He began teaching. He is teaching in a home, probably the home of Simon Peter as this was his home town. As word about Jesus has spread people start coming from all over to hear Jesus preach.
Lk 5:17 One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.
This text is the first time we see official opposition to Jesus. It introduces us to the villains of the story: the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Throughout Jesus ministry we will see them as His antagonists. The Pharisees and teachers of the law represent the religious leaders of Jesus day. They are the pastors, book writers, and Bible college professors. These guys were the most influential people of the Jewish faith.
It is easy when reading through the gospels to see these people as villains. They are after all directly responsible for putting Jesus on a cross. While they may indeed be the villains, they did not intend to end up that way. In fact, like Hitler, they would have been viewed as heroes by their countrymen. These religious leaders started off with a great idea: let’s get people to obey the Bible. So how did they get from there to being opposed to the Son of God? They had the right goal but the wrong method. What they did to help people follow the law of God was to create more laws and regulations to follow. They made following the Bible all about human effort instead of about divine activity. They got so focused on the ‘work’ of following God’s Word that they missed God’s Word when it was right in front of them.
Their main problem is that they did not correctly identify who Jesus was. They thought of Jesus as some: “good moral teacher” and they missed the fact that He was the Son of God. This is an easy mistake to make. We do it all the time. The Christian church comes from the Restoration movement. The idea is that we should be Christians only. No more denominations, no more church divisions but that the church should ever, only, always be about Jesus. In less than 100 years it went from a great idea to just another set of church divisions.
The Pharisees had the right idea. Here is where their perfect plan went astray: the Bible is perfect, but that doesn’t mean your interpretation of it is. When you treat an imperfect interpretation the same as the perfect Word of God you are extending the inerrancy of God to man. Essentially, you are letting yourself believe that an imperfect person is perfect.
Martin Luther said that the default mode of our hearts is religion. We tend to believe that our religious views, our systematic theology, our teachers, our specific set of beliefs are perfect. We have to remember that we are capable of error. We can make mistakes. The Pharisees turned the Bible into a religion. Which is not unlike what we do today: because the Bible gives us principles not methods. The Bible says worship God that is the principle, religion says: worship Him like this…that is the method. The Bible says: be holy, religion says: this is what you have to do in order to be holy. When we treat the method with the same reverence as the principle we become like the Pharisees valuing our interpretation as much as God’s truth.
Religion is when you take the rules of man and treat them as if they were the rules of God. The Pharisees made it about them, when it is all about Jesus. When they learn that Jesus is teaching in Capernaum they come from all over to hear Jesus speak and to see how they feel about it.