I’ve wondered if the paralytic’s four friends were disappointed, after strenuous effort and second-mile toting, when Jesus forgave the man in the mat rather than healing him. Those around, however, were indignant as they considered the charge of blasphemy against Jesus. Then, almost as an afterthought (as if Jesus did anything that way), Jesus tells them, “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — and turns to the paralytic and heals him.
The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. He exercised his authority for that very purpose. Repeatedly. And with that authority firmly in his grasp he gave himself up to the cross, so that forgiveness might be repeated across the world, down through the ages.
It’s that authority in the resurrected Jesus, also, that sends out the disciples to preach so people can be forgiven (Matt. 28:18-20).
Obviously, Jesus’ Lordship is not restricted to forgiveness. His authority extends to judgment as well. But in forgiveness of sins his authority shines best.
It’s that authority of his I want to know.
Then there’s Paul. As he attempts to turn the Corinthians around, he makes use of his apostolic authority. He urges, pleads, cajoles, threatens. But he wants them to be sure of what’s behind every word: his authority is for building them up, not for tearing them down (2 Cor. 10:8; 13:10).
With these verses the concept of authority takes on an additional — and altogether positive, warm, glowing — hue as the purpose behind the power appears.