Anybody could say “your sins are forgiven,” but how would you know that they actually were? Couple that with a belief that God is the only one who can forgive sin, and you begin to understand the religious authorities objections to what Jesus said. Jesus, however, shows them they have underestimated who He is and what He can do. He proves His authority by having a paralytic stand up and walk!
Forgiveness continues to be the theme when Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners. Tax collectors were considered to be immoral because they most often abused their position in order to obtain wealth. The authorities don’t understand why Jesus would want to be with people like that, but they have missed the point entirely. It is only those who understand their sinfulness and their need for a Savior who can truly be forgiven! Those who believe they are righteous are actually far from God.
Luke 18:9-14 “Jesus also told this parable to some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else. ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: extortionists, unrighteous people, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.” The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!” I tell you that this man went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.’”
Case in point: the religious authorities treated fasting as a work that was done for the purpose of gaining favor in God’s sight, which is why they fasted two days a week. They had a formula for righteousness that they did and it had nothing to do with actually seeking God. The disciples had actually sought God and found Him — He was in their midst! The time for fasting would come when He was gone. But when He was “taken from them” (a reference to the crucifixion), it would bring a complete revolution in their ideas and understanding of God and His ways. The inadequate and unbiblical additions and understandings of the Pharisees (like their understanding of fasting), would be completely destroyed. New wine, in new wineskins!
Another example of their improper understanding of Scripture has to do with the issue of the Sabbath. They treated the Sabbath law as superior to most other laws, and themselves as righteous because of they kept it. Therefore, Jesus’ disciples are unrighteous because they didn’t keep the Sabbath according to how the Pharisees thought they should! Jesus uses an example from the Old Testament to show them that human need took precedence over the Sabbath command, and states that “the Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.” And Jesus should know. He is Lord of the Sabbath!