Peter has had 30+ years to hone his testimony. He has told and retold the story of his life with Jesus and who He is, which is why he quickly cuts to the chase concerning Jesus’ mission and objective. Jesus’ mission is reconnecting people to God through Himself; His objective is the cross, because it is through the cross that He will ultimately connect all who want to come to God.
v1-12 The first thing that Jesus does is establish His deity. The teachers of the law were correct when they thought, “Why does this fellow talk like that? Who can forgive sins but God alone.” (7). What they missed is the fact that HE IS GOD. He proved it by healing the fellow. Jesus’ logic is sound, “Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” (8-11). The same power can do both.
The other thing Jesus did that probably irritated the leaders is His use of the term, “The Son of Man.” It is in reference to Daniel 7;13-14, which is a Messianic passage. By taking that moniker, He was declaring that He is God and Messiah. Pretty in-your-face, don’t you think? Jesus was going to call into account every wrong teaching. In the case of the paralyzed man, the thinking of the day was that the man was being punished for some sin he committed or that his parents committed. He DID have sin in his life, but not the way the leaders thought he did. Jesus set them straight by forgiving his sin and proving it by healing him!
v13-17 Jesus established who He was after: The lost sheep of Israel. He declared, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” There’s a catch to this declaration. NO ONE IS RIGHTEOUS. Psalms says it; Isaiah says it; Ecclesiastes says it. The leaders had to know it as the truth. They simply ignored it. Levi/Matthew threw a big party and had his fellow tax collectors and other “sinners” come and dine with Jesus. I look forward to the day I get to meet all who were at the party who trusted Him as their Savior.
v18-22 One of the things that Jesus routinely corrected was the “oral law” that was so popular in that day. Moses supposedly brought down the written law, but also a bunch of oral laws that were never written down. The tendency of these supposed oral laws was for people to add to them (there were over 500 at this time) and use them to manipulate. Jesus came to free people from such restrictions. Fasting was one of them. People still fast, but it’s according to the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than a religious necessity. Jesus called Himself the Bridegroom, another Messianic term. Jesus then expanded the meaning of His answer to include all of the oral law. Anytime He is asked about a point in the oral teaching of the day, Jesus answered, “It is written…” He always directed them back to the WORD of God. Matthew 5-6 is full of Him telling the people how the religious leaders did something, but they were NOT to do it that way. Ouch! We are to take the same attitude and go by what the Word of God SAYS and not just how someone interprets it.
v23-27 Jesus establishes Himself as LORD of the Sabbath. In other words, He was claiming to be God and that HE established the Sabbath, therefore He has the right and power to change it. In this passage, He is saying that the observance of the Sabbath is subservient to the needs of people. Was it license for people to do what they want? No, but it redirected the use and importance of the Sabbath and washed away all the little rules that had been set up by the religious leaders. One such law was walking more than a mile on the Sabbath, which was not allowed. A person could draw a circle in the dust, sit in it for one hour, and then continue for another mile. That’s manipulation and completely missed the purpose of the Sabbath!
We will see Jesus do many things on the Sabbath. It is His to rule. The religious leaders of the day would eventually kill Him for usurping their power and revealing their carefully crafted control. That’s okay, because that was His plan all along. He told us so in 8:31, 9:30, and 10:32. Aren’t we glad for 16:6, “He has risen!”