C - Jesus’ Forgiveness of Sins
Among the evidence, which Christians present for Jesus’ (PBUH) divinity, is what comes in the Gospels regarding his forgiveness of the paralytic and the sinner woman’s sins. Forgiveness, as they believe, is a divine characteristic; thus, Jesus (PBUH) is Allah (S.W) who forgives, as he said to Mary Magdalene, “Your sins are forgiven.”(Luke 7/48), and he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”(Matthew 9/2). The Jews, at that moment, accused him of blasphemy,“some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming.” (Matthew 9/3) which means: he claims divinity when he forgives the people.
If we read the story of these events, when he forgave these people, we would realize clearly that Jesus (PBUH) was not the one who forgave them. In the sinner woman’s story, when people suspected Jesus (PBUH), and after he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”Explaining the confusion, since he is only a human, Jesus (PBUH) told the woman that it is her belief that had redeemed her.
I need to mention here, that Jesus (PBUH) did not claim that he was the one who forgave her. He told her that her sin was forgiven, and the one who forgives, of course, is Allah (S.W).
The story according to Luke is as follows, “but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven--for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little. And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven. Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins? And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”(Luke 7/46-50), Allah (S.W) forgave her because of her belief, and Jesus (PBUH) told her that she was covered with Allah’s (S.W) mercy. He also made it clear to the people, who were present that he did not commit blasphemy and that he did not claim sins’ forgiveness.
Likewise, Jesus did not claim that he was the one who forgave the paralytic. He said to him, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”He told him that his sins were forgiven, but he did not mention that he was the one who forgave.
When the Jews thought that Jesus (PBUH) had blasphemed, he scolded them and corrected their evil thoughts. He explained to them that this forgiveness was not from him, but it is Allah’s (S.W) authority, and Allah (S.W) permitted him to do so, as He permitted him to perform all his miracles. They understood what he meant, and their misunderstanding disappeared. “When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” (Matthew 9/8)
This authority is not Jesus’ (PBUH) characteristic; it is Allah’s (S.W) permission, who gave it to him. If Jesus (PBUH) is God, that would be his own characteristic and his own authority, but he cannot perform anything except what Allah (S.W) permitted him to do. He is a servant of Allah (S.W), as he said, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father.”(Luke 10/22), he has no power without Allah (S.W). He said in another place, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”(Matthew 28/18).
He said about his capability, “I can do nothing on my own.”(John 5/30). If it was not with Allah’s (S.W) help, he would not be able to forgive a sin.
The Jews asked Jesus (PBUH),“Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority?”(Luke 20/2-4). Jesus (PBUH) did not claim that it was his own authority, which he gained from his eternal divinity, instead, he asked them about John the Baptist’s (PBUH) authority of forgiveness, where was it from. He said,“I also will ask you a question. Now tell me Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?”(Luke 20/2-4). This means that all he did, forgiveness and other things, were by the same authority as that of John the Baptist (PBUH); and it was no more than the prophet-hood authority.
Forgiveness was not only for Jesus (PBUH), it was the authority of his disciples, but they were not gods, although, they were able to forgive sins, not only related to their own rights, but also all sins. Regarding forgiveness related to their own rights, Jesus said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”(Matthew 6/14-15).
John gave the disciples open authority to forgive any sin, he said,“If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”(John 20/23). Hence, they were like Jesus (PBUH), but no one considers them gods.
The church gave itself the claimed authority of Peter and the disciples. Priests were able to forgive sinners by confession or by the indulgence, claiming that they had inherited this authority from Peter. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be lost in heaven.”(Matthew 16/19). Therefore, if Peter or the Pope – his successor- forgave one’s sin, he or she will be forgiven, and that will not make Peter or the Pope god.
This authority was not only for Peter and his successors, but also for all the disciples. “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”(Matthew 18/18-20). That –obviously- does not mean that they are gods, because it is not a personal right for them, but a gift from Allah (S.W) to them and to their master, Jesus (PBUH), this is what the Holy Bible says.