“When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”
Forgiveness can be a terrifying thing. It’s not something that we sinful human beings deal with well. Society doesn’t like to simply forgive; we might “forgive” but not forget – which isn’t really forgiving. Or we might “forgive” after someone has done his time and made amends and worked himself back into our good graces. Which again, isn’t forgiveness.
God actually forgives. A full and simple forgiveness. Your sin is gone. No secret double probation, no “I’ll let you go this time, but if I catch you again.” There are no “ifs” with the forgiveness – if you work harder if you please me by doing X, Y, or Z. He simply forgives. All your guilt, all your punishment, all your anything that might stick to you is gone. Christ Jesus takes that away.
And that’s terrifying to us sinful folk. See, we like to use people’s sin against them, to control them. It gives us a lever over them, and our anger and disapproval or long memories can manipulate people all over the place. Other people’s sin makes us feel righteous – it lets us ignore our own sin because, after all, they are worse than us or they started it.
But Jesus isn’t interested in manipulating you or controlling you. He’s not going to wash your back only if you promise to wash His. Instead, He simply loves. He forgives. He forgives this paralytic who has done nothing for Him; He won forgiveness for you before you were even born. And even more astonishing – He authorizes you as His baptized child to forgive the people in your life. With no strings. We are free to simply love and forgive – authorized by God so to do as heirs of His righteousness. We live in His forgiveness.