“And some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming!'” – Matthew 9:3
A group of friends bring one of their friends in to Jesus to have him healed. They actually lower Him from the roof to get to Jesus demonstration that their faith and belief was strong in who Jesus was. Jesus first addresses the man’s sins, then heals. The scribes are not too hip to this. They say that He is blaspheming….
Some scribes were present in the house, listening to Jesus’ teaching. Scribes were often described as teachers of the law, holding some authority over the religious lives of everyday Jewish people. They heard Jesus say to the man that his sins were forgiven. To each other, but out of the hearing of Jesus, they react to this in anger, suggesting Jesus was blaspheming. Mark quotes them as saying, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7).
These religious leaders realized that in declaring a man’s sin forgiven, Jesus was making a statement about who He was. Since all sin is committed against God (Psalm 51:4) and since only God can forgive sin (Isaiah 43:25), Jesus was speaking in the place of God.
Of course, Jesus was the Son of God, so His statement is clearly not blasphemy. Some scholars debate whether claiming to forgive sins would qualify as blasphemy even if the person was not Jesus since blasphemy generally has to do with the name of God. Still, Jesus as the Son of God was fully qualified to forgive any sins He chose to.
Were these teachers of the law wrong to be offended at Jesus’ statement? If another mere mortal had said such a thing, they may have been exactly right. Instead, their thoughts about Jesus betray the fact that they have failed to recognize the Son of God. Jesus will describe them as thinking evil in their hearts.
Christ’s comment here is not careless—He is making a very specific point. In the upcoming verses, Jesus will point out that it’s easier to claim one has the power to forgive sins than the power to physically heal; the second is something which can be tested (Matthew 9:4–7).
Continuing to read all of this it must have been so confusing to these guys during this time. They see this man, claiming to be the Son of God, healing people, forgiving sins. This must have been such a shock to the whole system. So of course, their reaction is this….why wouldn’t it be.
But again, we have to come back to belief and trust in all of this. Jesus urges us to believe. To trust in Him.