Son of Man has Authority

Jesus is the Son of Man foreseen by Daniel, the one with absolute authority from Yahweh over the earth

After defeating Satan in the wilderness, Jesus began to proclaim the “good news” of the kingdom – “The season is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.” The term “Kingdom of God” was a summary statement that meant different things to different people, but he identified his mission most closely with the “Son of Man” from the book of Daniel.

In Capernaum, he entered the synagogue and began to teach. But there was something about how he taught that astonished his audience - “He taught them as one who has authority, and not as the scribes.” Typically, the scribes cited historical and legal precedents, the “traditions of the elders,” and they were not known for issuing clear declarations on their own authority.

Next, Jesus delivered a man from an “unclean spirit.” Amazed, the men in the synagogue were questioning just what they had witnessed. “What is this? With authority, he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” His audience recognized his “authority” but did not understand its source - (Mark 1:21-27).

Some days later, a paralytic man was brought to Jesus by several men, no doubt expecting him to heal their friend. But rather than simply heal the man, Jesus declared his sins “forgiven.”

This caused consternation among the crowd, and the “scribes” were indignant. After all, who could forgive sins “but God alone.” His was an act of presumption if not blasphemy. Moreover, he had discharged the debt of sin on his own authority, and apart from the Temple rituals required by the Torah.

Jesus challenged his critics. “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, your sins are forgiven, or to say, Rise, take up your couch and walk?” Both statements are easy to say, and both are impossible to do without the authority of God. But he did not ask which one was easier to do, but instead, which one was easier “to say.”

It is easy to proclaim the forgiveness of sins since no one can verify the validity of your claim from observable evidence. But to say the paralytic was “healed” was far more difficult since verification would be immediate and obvious. If Jesus could demonstrate his authority to heal, it would validate his authority to proclaim the “forgiveness of sins.”

And that is precisely what he did. “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on the earth, he said to the paralytic, Rise, take up your couch, and go your way to your house. And he arose and, immediately, taking up the couch, he went forth before all.”

This is the first recorded instance when Jesus referred to himself as the “Son of Man.” He did not say that he had “authority,” but that the “Son of Man has authority,” in this case, to “forgive” sins. This is the self-designation used most often by Jesus in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And it was in his capacity as the “Son of Man” that he had the authority to “discharge” the debt of sins.

The term “Son of Man” is derived from Daniel’s vision when he saw “one like a Son of Man on the clouds of heaven” approaching the “Ancient of Days,” and the latter clearly represented Yahweh. From Him, the “Son of Man” received “dominion” and the kingdom so that all “peoples, nations, and men of every tongue might serve him” (Daniel 7:13-14).

In the text from Daniel, “dominion” translates the Aramaic term ‘sholtan,’ meaning “dominion, sovereignty” - the right and authority to rule. By identifying his actions with that “Son of Man,” Jesus claimed not only to have the authority to implement and reign over the kingdom but also left no doubt as to the source of his authority, the “Ancient of Days.”

And that is why he had the “authority to forgive sins.” From Yahweh, the “Son of Man” received sovereignty over the kingdom that is “everlasting, and it will not pass away, and it will not be destroyed.” His authority was from God Himself, and according to the prophecy, there were no limits on the extent of his dominion. It extended over all the peoples of the earth, and it would endure forever.

Certainly, the Torah provided the sacrificial rituals necessary to cleanse ritual defilement and atone for sins, and the “scribes” were not completely off-base by asking, “who can forgive sins except God?” But on this day, they had witnessed something entirely new and unprecedented, and that is why the crowd glorified God because “He had given such authority to men.” And by doing so, they acknowledged his dominion and “served” him, the “Son of Man.”

Since his authority was from God, Jesus was fully within his rights to declare anyone’s sins “forgiven” whether he or she had undergone the required Temple rituals or not. And that is why the “Son of Man” could issue authoritative declarations about sin, ritual purity, dietary restrictions, and even the Sabbath (“for the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” - Mark 2:23-28, 7:14-23).

Thus, by identifying himself as the “Son of Man,” Jesus indicated the source of his authority, a claim his healings and exorcisms validated.

But being the “Son of Manwould not be all fun and games. Later, he would reveal the true significance of his calling when he combined the figure of the “Son of Man” with Isaiah’s Suffering Servant,for the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of the chief priests and scribes who would condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles for execution.” The one called to rule over God’s kingdom, the “Son of Man,” must first “give his life a ransom for many.”



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