His Authority

After defeating Satan, Jesus began proclaiming the “Good News” of the Kingdom in Galilee – “The season is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.” The term “Kingdom of God” is a summary statement that meant different things to different people, but the man from Nazareth identified his mission with the glorious “Son of Man” figure described in the Book of Daniel.

In the town of Capernaum, he entered the synagogue and taught about the Kingdom. But there was something about the way he taught that astonished his audience - “He taught them as one who has authority, and not as the Scribes.”

Stone Pile - Photo by Wolfgang Lutz on Unsplash
[Photo by Wolfgang Lutz on Unsplash]

The Scribes would cite historical and legal precedents to validate their propositions, the “
traditions of the elders.” They were not known for issuing clear or innovative declarations based on their own authority.

Jesus then delivered a man from an “unclean spirit.” Amazed, the men in the synagogue asked questions concerning what they had seen. “What is this? With authority, he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” His audience recognized his “authority” but did not understand its source - (Mark 1:21-27).

Some days later, a paralytic man was brought to Jesus by several men, no doubt expecting him to heal their friend. But rather than simply heal the man, he declared his sins “discharged,” causing consternation among the crowd. The “scribes” were indignant. After all, who could forgive sins “but God alone.”

His was an act of presumption if not blasphemy. Moreover, he had discharged the debt of sin on his own authority apart from the Temple rituals required by the Torah.

Jesus challenged his critics. “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, your sins are forgiven, or to say, Rise, take up your couch and walk?” Both statements were easy to say, and both were impossible to do without Divine authority. However, he did not ask which task was easier to do, but which one was easier “to say.”

It is easy to proclaim the forgiveness of sins since no one can verify the validity of your claim from observable evidence. To say the paralytic was “healed” was far more difficult since verification would be immediate and obvious. If Jesus could demonstrate his authority to heal, it would validate his authority to proclaim the “forgiveness of sins,” which is precisely what he did:

  • But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on the earth, he said to the paralytic, Rise, take up your couch and go your way to your house. And he arose and, immediately, taking up the couch, he went forth before all.”

This is the first recorded instance where Jesus referred to himself as the “Son of Man.” He did not say that he had “authority,” but that the “Son of Man has authority,” in this case, to discharge or “forgive” sins.

THE SON OF MAN


This is the self-designation used most often by Jesus in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It was in his capacity as the “Son of Man” that he had the authority to “discharge” the debt of sins, cast out demons, and so on.

The term “Son of Man” is derived from Daniel’s vision in which he saw “one like a Son of Man on the clouds of heaven” approaching the “Ancient of Days.” From Him, the “Son of Man” received “dominion” and the kingdom so that all “peoples, nations, and men of every tongue might serve him” (Daniel 7:13-14).

In Chapter 7 of Daniel, the term “dominion” translates the Aramaic word ‘sholtan,’ meaning “dominion, sovereignty” - the right and authority to rule. By identifying his actions with this figure, Jesus claimed not only the authority to implement and reign over the Kingdom but also left us no doubt as to the source of his authority, the “Ancient of Days.”

That was why he had the “authority to forgive sins.” From Yahweh, the “Son of Man” received sovereignty over a kingdom that is “everlasting, and it will not pass away, and it will not be destroyed.” His authority was from God, and according to the prophecy in Daniel, there were no limits on the extent of his dominion. It extended over all the peoples of the Earth, and it would endure forever.

Certainly, the Torah provided the sacrificial rituals necessary to cleanse ritual defilement and atone for sins, and the “Scribes” were not completely off-base to ask, “Who can forgive sins except God?

However, they had witnessed something new and unprecedented, which is why the crowd glorified God - Because “He had given such authority to men.” By doing so, the crowd acknowledged his dominion and “served” him, the “Son of Man.”

Cross Mountain - Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash
[Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash]

Since his authority was from God, Jesus was well within his rights to declare anyone’s sins “
forgiven” whether he had undergone the required Temple rituals or not. This is why the “Son of Man” could issue authoritative declarations on Earth about sin, ritual purity, dietary restrictions, and even the Sabbath Day (“for the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” - Mark 2:23-28, 7:14-23).

Thus, by identifying himself as the “Son of Man,” Jesus indicated the source and the extent of his authority, a claim validated by his healings.

However, being the “Son of Manwas not all fun and games. Later, he would reveal the true significance of his calling when he combined the figure of the “Son of Man” with Isaiah’s Suffering Servant- for the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of the chief priests and scribes who would condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles for execution.” The one appointed to rule over God’s kingdom would first “give his life a ransom for many.”



RELATED POSTS:
  • The Messiah Arrives - (In the ministry of Jesus, the kingdom of God arrived, commencing with his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist – Mark 1:1-3)
  • The Forerunner - (John the Baptist prepared the way for the Messiah, the herald of the Good News of the Kingdom of God – Mark 1:4-8)
  • Rend the Heavens! - (The Spirit of God and the voice from heaven confirmed the calling and identity of Jesus – Son, Messiah, and Servant of the LORD)

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