The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Luke 5:21)Does this offensive thinking by the Pharisees and the Jewish teachers mean that Jesus is God since he was able to forgive the man's sins?
This is the assumption of many sectarian teachers who claim that Jesus is God.
This is because these sectarian teachers and their institutions have no more spiritual vision of Jesus than those Jewish ecclesiastical priests - the Pharisees and "teachers of the law" - had.
This is because these sectarian teachers - like their Jewish counterparts - have no entrance into the spiritual realm.
No entrance for sectarians
The reason they have no entrance is that they are trying to cheat their way into their authority. They have no real authority. Their seminary degrees and appointments by bishops and deacons offer them no access to the spiritual realm. These degrees and appointments only offer them authority over physical things: church buildings, organizations, money and so on, together with typically comfortable salaries in return for their services.
And while they might be able to give eloquent sermons on Sunday, their sermons do not have the power to change people's hearts. They might even offer confessions or other rituals that are supposed to forgive people of their sins in the name of Jesus Christ, but those rituals have no effect. They cannot deliver the authority of Jesus or God because that authority must come from Jesus and God - not from seminary degrees, appointments by deacons or bishops, or elections by cardinals.
So how does one gain the authority to forgive sins as Jesus is doing here? Only through the granting of this authority by the Supreme Being.
This is why Jesus said:
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Matt. 28:18)
"For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in himself. And He has given him authority to judge because he is the son of man." (John 5:26-27)The key to this lies in the question:
What does "son of man" mean?
Sectarian teachers have no good answer for this question. This is again because they have no entrance into the essence of the relationship between God, Jesus, and God's children. In fact, the English phrase, "son of man," has no rational meaning. Why would it be such an important title for Jesus to attribute to himself? Every man is a son of a man. Why is this so special?
The problem lies in the translation of the Greek phrase, υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. The word υἱός (huios) has been translated to "son" incorrectly in this context. υἱός can mean a male offspring with regard to the family, but the word also refers to a devotional relationship. Thayer's Greek lexicon states that υἱός can be "used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower." Consider this for a moment. Someone who depends on someone and follows that person is devoted to the person they are following, yes?
This means that the correct translation of υἱός (huios) in this context - Jesus' referring to himself, should be either "follower," "devotee" or "devoted servant."
The Greek word ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos) can mean "man," "mankind" or "humanity." Jesus is obviously not speaking of a specific man. He can only be speaking of mankind, humankind or humanity.
Thus the appropriate translation of υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (τοῦ means "of") would be:
Servant of Humanity
Why does Jesus consider being a servant of humanity so special? Consider what he told his close disciples:
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." (Mark 9:35)
"You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve..." (Mark 10:42-45)God also gave this same title ("son of man" = "servant of humanity") to Ezekial. And both Job and David also referred to themselves with the same title.
This is the essence of Jesus' position, and he is encouraging his students to also take up that position. And what is that position? It is the position of servant. Jesus is God's servant, and by virtue of his service to God, he is also the servant of all of God's children.
Why? Because Jesus' service is to bring us back to the Supreme Being. The Supreme Being loves each of us and wants us to come home to Him. He wants us to return to our natural position as one of His loving servants. Why? Because the Supreme Being loves us. He wants us to be happy. And we can only be happy when we are in our natural position.
Just as Jesus' position as the servant of humanity is expressed with the phrase, υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, Jesus' position as the servant of God is expressed with the Greek phrase, υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. The Greek word θεοῦ (theosis) is God's Holy Name. Thus Jesus is being described as the devoted servant of God.
Knowing these facts, we can now understand why Jesus has the authority to forgive someone's sins.
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Matt. 28:18)
"For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man." (John 5:26-27)The authority that Jesus is referring to is not his. By his own admission, this authority has been given to Jesus. This means the authority is not from Jesus, but the Supreme Being.
The Supreme Being never has to be given authority. Authority originates with the Supreme Being. Thus we can know from Jesus' referral to himself as servant, and as being given authority, that by acting as the Supreme Being's confidential loving servant, Jesus is given certain authority.
Now what exactly is the authority to "forgive sins"? What is "sin" and what is "forgiveness"?
Here "sin" is translated from ἁμαρτία (hamartia), meaning to "to err, be mistaken," "miss the mark," "an offense" and "to wander from the law of God, violate God's law."
A sin is thus a self-centered act, and sinning is self-centered consciousness. It is a consciousness that sees me as the center of the universe. It sees my happiness as my central mission. Thus, self-centeredness is the opposite of love.
What is the essence of "God's law"?
Love for God, as taught by Jesus, Moses and others, as the central, key commandment (Matt. 22:37, Deut. 6:5).
The Supreme Being set up the physical world and these physical bodies with consequences. This is because this is a place of learning - a rehabilitation center of sorts, for those of us who turned our back on the Supreme Being and our true nature.
Thus, every self-centered act has a consequence. Furthermore, the consciousness of being self-centered has a great effect: The effect of offensiveness. By being self-centered, we are ignoring the Supreme Being. By ignoring the Supreme Being, we are offending Him.
This is why "sins" are spoken of as being forgiven. A person who forgives another person has been slighted somehow by that other person. If it was an automatic process of removal, the phrase would be "your sins are removed."
This is similar to Jesus' situation. Such a servant of the Supreme Being and a servant of humanity is given authorization by God to act on His behalf. This includes forgiving sins because Jesus knows under what circumstances the Supreme Being requires to have that person's sins forgiven. He has been authorized through his loving service relationship with God.
And the Supreme Being, who enjoys a close loving relationship with His loving servant, always complies with His devoted servant and immediately forgives the person. It is actually quite immediate because God's loving servant enjoys such a trusting relationship with God that the Supreme Being immediately executes the desires of His loving servant.
This is because the desire of the loving servant is linked up with God's desires. Their desires are one and the same, because of the devotional love of God's servant.
Thus, practically any contact with God's loving servant will have a purifying effect - because of that relationship of love that exists between God and His loving servant. This can even include a picture or other representation of God's representative.
This is why the man's paralysis also became cured. Because the consequences of his past activities that created his current physical condition - his paralysis - were forgiven and removed from the person.
The Supreme Being is ready to forgive any of us for our sinful nature. But in order to be forgiven of something we have to also feel sorry.
Let's say that we bumped into a person while walking down the street, and he fell down. Would the person forgive us if we yelled at them for being in our way? Would they forgive us if we just walked on and left them laying on the ground?
But if we stopped and said we were so sorry, and then helped them up, we would certainly be forgiven by the man.
God already forgives us
The Supreme Being doesn't need us to be sorry in order to be forgiven. He already forgives us. But in order to be relieved of the consequences of our previous acts, our consciousness must change. We have to become sorry for those activities. We have to feel sorry that we have ignored the Supreme Being for so long. In this condition, the consequences of our self-centered life will be relieved.
Typically a person cannot do this alone. This is because the physical world is so strong, and our envy and self-centeredness is so ingrained that it is nearly impossible for us to have a change of heart, and thus become cleansed of the consequences of our prior self-centered activities and consciousness.
This is where the loving servant and representative of the Supreme Being comes in. Jesus is God's representative, and his teachings have the ability to change a person's heart from being self-centered to being God-centered. He could introduce that person to the Supreme Being, and change their consciousness from being so proud of themselves to being humbled and awestruck by the loving and beautiful nature of the Supreme Being.
This allows one's entrance into the spiritual realm, as the spiritual realm is the domain where its citizens each enjoy a fulfilling loving service relationship with the Supreme Being.
Because the loving servant of the Supreme Being is engaged in a loving relationship with God, and because of their love and commitment to God's children to help them, the Supreme Being bestows upon His representative powers as needed to change the hearts of others.
And as those hearts are changed by the teachings and activities of God's representative and loving servant, our consciousness can change, and we can also enter into the devoted servitude of the Supreme Being - as Jesus asked his disciples to enter into.