And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 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.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 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.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Matthew 9:1-8 ESV)
Jesus was given authority to forgive sins on earth. There were two responses from the people:
- Scribes and the Pharisees: “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7 ESV)
- People: When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Matthew 9: 8 ESV)
Jesus wanted to show the people that he had authority to forgive sins and to prove that point the miracle was done. Now the miracle had great intensity, that only the hand of God could do such a thing.
From the above two points emerge: The Father
- Given Jesus authority to do miracles
- Given him authority to forgive sins.
Miracles – By God through Jesus
It is a fact that only God can heal miraculously, but men such as Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, Paul were also able to heal. Moses did great miracles that only a god can do, yet Moses is not the Eternal God. The Father shares his power with people and authorises them to do miracles on his behalf.
The people in Mathew 9:8 had the right attitude in that they could see the power of God work in Jesus and they glorified God the Father.
For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” (2 Peter 1:17 ESV)
The confusion is that God glorifies Jesus to a very great extend which somehow seems impossible for people to accept:
- The Pharisee response: Crucify him
- The Nicean Response: He is God
- Peter’s response: Jesus received honor and glory from God the Father
What did the Father himself say:
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” (2 Peter 1:17 ESV)
Nicodemus a Pharisee understood the concept well when he spoke to Jesus thus:
The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. (John 3:2 KJV)
The critical view of Jesus by authority:
Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. (John 9:16 KJV)
Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. (John 9:16 KJV)
Peter bore this witness along with Thomas that Jesus was only able to perform miracles because he was approved by God:
Peter, standing up with the eleven (including Thomas), lifted up his voice, and said unto them
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, A MAN approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: (Acts 2:22 KJV)
The authority to do miracles was not unique to Jesus. Jesus passed on this to his disciples during his ministry and later on after his resurrection:
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. (Matthew 10:1 ESV)
Was Jesus making GODS of his disciples as the Father had made of Jesus? Yes in a sense – as only by the power of the Father could they do these miracles:
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18 ESV)
Jesus himself claimed he did the miracles in the Father’s name:
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, (John 10:25 ESV)
Authority to forgive sins:
The power of the miracle gave an opportunity to those who witnessed it and to the sick man himself to relook at their lives and change. The miracle/healing produced a transformation not only in the physical but also in the spiritual. Jesus assured the man that his sins were forgiven and that gave him hopes of a new life.
Jesus is able to forgive sins because he received such authority from his Father. Like manner he bestows this authority on his disciples also. His disciples were authorised to act on behalf of Jesus as Jesus was to be taken away from them:
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:21-23 ESV)
As Jesus teaches:
- “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you”
- Implies the disciples were in heaven as Jesus was? How did the Father send Jesus?
- Let us understand the verse in reverse: As the disciples were sent by Jesus, God had also sent Jesus. If that were so then Jesus is as human as his disciples but that he was exalted above all humans.
- If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.
- Implies that the Disciples are also part of the Trinity?
- They are sent by God as Jesus and they can as humans – forgive sins so they must be of the same essence of the Trinity.
- The words of the scribes are both true and false. THey said: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” but we can see from scriptures that “Who can forgive sins? God alone and who he authorizes.”
- Also individuals have power to forgive sins that others have committed against them. “Forgive us our sins as we forgive them that sin against us”
If God authorises someone to forgive sins then they can forgive sins. During the exodus God authorised his angel to act on his behalf, work miracles and also forgive sins:
Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off. (Exodus 23:20-23 KJV)
[See more on angels and God manifestation in angels here:
- 100 Reasons why the Bible does not use the word Trinity: Reason 26 of 100 [How Angels manifest God – ‘Beware of him’ and how Jesus manifested God]
- 100 Reasons why the Bible does not use the word Trinity: Reason 23 of 100 [Searching for Jesus in Genesis – 3 Angels or Trinity? – Understanding God manifestation through Angels ‘Let us make man in our image’]]
Here God puts his NAME on the angel and authorized him as YHWH. So also Jesus came in the NAME of his FATHER:
And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9 ESV)
I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. (John 5:43 ESV)
Jesus’ primary purpose was to manifest the Father’s NAME to the people. In God’s name lies his glory i.e. his character and power.
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. (John 17:6 ESV)
I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26 ESV)
do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? (John 10:36 ESV)
The Father shares:
And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. (John 17:11 ESV)
While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:12 ESV)
If you can see there is an over emphasis of Jesus giving glory to HIS Father. Trinity diminishes Jesus’ words and prayers.
Here are few examples of how holy prophets acted on behalf of God:
Naaman seeks YHWH’s forgiveness but conveys it to Elisha, who on behalf of God offers the pardon.
- In this matter may the LORD pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon your servant in this matter.” He said to him, “Go in peace.” (2 Kings 5:18-19 ESV)
Likewise Samuel passes judgment on God’s behalf:
- Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may worship the LORD.” And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.” (1 Samuel 15:24-26 ESV)
Will the disciples become greater than Jesus?
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12 ESV)
- Jesus says I’m going to the Father
- Jesus says other humans can also replicate his works
- The Father shares good gifts with his son and the church.
- The doctrine of trinity turns the spot light on Jesus but Jesus taught us to have the spot light on his Father.
Appendix – How Catholics and Protestants became God and pardoned sin or executed judgments – Burnt Alive by the Church
The Arrest, Trial, and Execution of Servetus (1509 or 1511 – 27 October 1553):
Because of Servetus’ last book, Calvin summoned the Catholic Inquisitors to arrest him in Vienne, France. They promptly did so on April 4, 1553. But the doctor outwitted his captors and escaped. Later, he headed for northern Italy where he planned to practice medicine among new groups of anti-Trinitarians, many of them Anabaptists.
Unfortunately for Servetus, it seems that he could not avoid traveling through Geneva. And mostly on account of Master Jean Calvin, Geneva had strict Sabbatical laws. One of them was the mandatory requirement of church attendance on Sunday. Servetus apparently feared arrest if discovered breaking the “Christian Sabbath.”
So he took a calculated, but foolish, risk. On August 13th, 1553, he attended the large church where Calvin pastored and preached every Sunday. A parishioner uncannily recognized the doctor and quickly informed the Master. Calvin hailed the heresy-hunting Inquisitors to arrest Servetus again, this time charging him as an escaped prisoner.
During the next seventy-five days, Calvin led Geneva’ other thirteen Protestant pastors—called “the Venerable Company of Pastors” and members of the Little Council of Geneva—in an intense doctrinal interrogation of Servetus and his two main books. Due to Calvin’s frail health and civil governing duties, it was orchestrated by him but conducted by his student secretary living at Calvin’s home—Nicholas de la Fontaine. These judges were incensed at Servetus’ denial of the doctrine of the Trinity and thus Jesus’ eternal-divine Sonship. Servetus had asserted in his first book that the post-Nicene Trinity was “a Cerberus” (a pagan, three-headed, monster god.) But these pastors were further repulsed at Servetus’ denial of infant baptism and the immortality of the soul. Calvin was especially irritated with Servetus labeling his opponents as “Trinitarians.”
The civil court directed Calvin to write a draft of the interrogation, with Servetus’ annotations appended. It consisted of thirty-eight extracts from Servetus’ two books. Calvin pronounced these extracts “partly impious blasphemies, partly profane and insane errors, and all wholly foreign to the Word of God and the orthodox faith.” This document was submitted to four major cities in Switzerland for the judgment of their city councils and church pastors. They ruled Servetus guilty and seemed to approve of his execution.
Switzerland was like most European states in that it was a church-state. Geneva’s court condemned Servetus in accordance with the Codex of Justinian. Established by the Roman Empire during the 6th century, it prescribed the death penalty for those denying the church doctrine of the Trinity or infant baptism, thus advocating rebaptism as adults. Servetus had committed both infractions. These were the only two legal charges brought against him. The Geneva Reformers, however, had earlier abolished all (Catholic) canon laws, so that this was not the legal basis for their condemnation of Servetus.
Purposeful judicial irregularities were made in the trial of Michael Servetus. Although he was entitled by law to counsel, which he requested, it was refused on the illegitimate grounds that he was intelligent enough to defend himself. When Calvin and the others completed their lengthy interrogation of Servetus, they pronounced him guilty
of grave heresy and blasphemy against “the Lord God Jehovah” for publishing his two main books and that such infractions were deserving of death. The court had authority to try defendants accused of crimes committed within Geneva’s jurisdiction, yet this was never mentioned in the trial. Nor was an attempt made to prove that Servetus committed such crimes in Geneva or that any of his books had ever been sold there, much less been there. And the court never stated the legal basis for its condemnation of Servetus. It only was inferred in its judgment that the accused was guilty of breaking the Mosaic law of blasphemy as stated in Lev 24.16 and perhaps Deut 13.
Ironically, seven years earlier Calvin had vowed in a letter to his friend Farel about Servetus, that “if he come here [to Geneva] … I will never permit him to depart alive.” Calvin only stated his opposition to burning Servetus at the stake; but the other pastors surprisingly overruled him. As a consolation, they offered Servetus hanging rather
than tortuous burning on the condition that he confess to them the words, “Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God.” The accused remained steadfast in his convictions and refused.
Servetus was presented with his condemnation and death sentence only a few hours before his execution. He apparently did not expect it, since he was shocked when so informed. He quickly requested a meeting with Calvin, pleading for his forgiveness. But the Reformer stayed true to his convictions as well, refusing to grant a pardon.
Servetus was executed on the Plateau of Champel just outside Geneva during midday on October 27, 1553. M. Hillar relates the scene as follows: “No cruelty was spared on Servetus as his stake was made of bundles of the fresh wood of live oak still green, mixed with the branches still bearing leaves. On his head a straw crown was
placed sprayed with sulfur. He was seated on a log, with his body chained to a post with an iron chain, his neck was bound with four or five turns of a thick rope. This way Servetus was being fried at a slow fire for about a half hour before he died. To his side were attached copies of his [last] book” by a chain. With a large crowd witnessing the
proceeding, and in a moment of hushed solemnity, the executioner reached forth with his fiery torch and ignited the mass of kindling surrounding its victim. Flames quickly arose and engulfed his emaciated body. For a while, the accused heretic uttered painful shrieks and groans. Just before he expired, and recalling the consolation that had been offered to him only hours prior, he cried out with a loud, penetrating voice, “Oh Jesus Christ, Son of
the eternal God, have mercy upon me.” Even in his last dying breath, Michael Servetus passionately held to his convictions, proclaiming what he had perceived to be original, biblical Christology. Church historian and strong Trinitarian P. Schaff admits concerning Servetus, “it is evident that he worshipped Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.”
What a contrast was the indomitable Jean Calvin, Master of Geneva! The famous Reformer afterwards never recanted of his participation in this dastardly deed. Despite an angry uproar against Servetus’ execution, which news spread like wildfire in much of Europe, the arguably dictatorial Calvin remained stubbornly impenitent the rest of his life about this Servetus affair. The next year he published a book defending his action, saying, “Whoever shall maintain that wrong is done to heretics and blasphemers in punishing them makes himself an accomplice in their crime and guilty as they are. There is no question here of man’s authority; it is God who speaks,… Wherefore does he demand of us … to combat for His glory.” Calvin implores the two Mosaic laws against blasphemy
even though they apply to those guilty of idolatry or blasphemy against Yahweh.
On the contrary, Servetus was a devout worshipper of Yahweh as the one and only true God. And he exalted Jesus as the Christ, God’s special Son, and the only Savior from sin for all humankind. Thus, this application of the two Mosaic laws of blasphemy against Servetus is absolutely baseless. Actually, Servetus’ faith corresponded much
more closely to the Jewish concept of Yahweh as the one God than did the traditional, Trinitarian view of God held by Calvin and all other leading Reformers and Catholics.