In Mark 2:5-12 Jesus surprises the scribes by forgiving the sins of (and miraculously healing) a paralytic. The scribes took it as a blasphemy, as they believed that forgiveness of sins was a prerogative pertaining to God exclusively:
5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” [Mark 2:5-12 (ESV)]
The parallel account in Matthew 9:2-8 narrates the same event. However, verse 8 adds an interesting detail that Mark's account omits. The verse is in bold below:
2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. [Matthew 9:2-8 (ESV)]
So, I have a few questions:
- Why did Jesus have authority to forgive sins?
- Why did the scribes believe that only God could forgive sins? Are there any passages in the OT that clearly state that forgiveness of sins is God's prerogative?
- Matthew 9:8 says "[...] and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.". Does this mean that men in general also have the same authority as Jesus to forgive someone's sins?