Parables of Authority

The Cleansing of a Leper (Matthew 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16). In one of the cities around
the Sea of Galilee, a leper came to Jesus for healing, which was contrary to what Jewish tradition
allowed. A leper was required to cry, “Unclean! Unclean!” This cry proclaimed that his was both living
and moral death. Rabbis loved to trace disease to moral causes. “No death without sin, and no pain
without transgression,” “the sick is not healed, till all his sins are forgiven him.” These are off-repeated
sayings; but, when closely examined, they are not quite as spiritual as they sound. Leprosy is viewed in
the OT not so much as type of sin as of the uncleanness and separation that sin produces.

The leper recognized his own uncleanness and unworthiness, for he knelt and turned his gaze away from
the One to whom he presented his petition. He was cleansed at the touch of Jesus and sternly warned to
say nothing to anyone, but to go and show himself to the priests and present himself for cleansing under
the Ceremonial Law of Moses. The cleansed man disobeyed, thereby nullifying his witness because he
was not declared clean by the priests. The man was to be a testimony to the priests (Luke 5:14). The
priests would have to investigate whether the man had been a leper and then determine his present
condition. He was to present evidence that the One who claimed to be Messiah had power to cleanse
lepers, but he disobeyed and ruined the miracle.

Christ’s Authority to Forgive Sin (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26). Among the crowd
that gathered several days later at Capernaum were Pharisees and teachers of the law. They were there to
evaluate the Person of Christ. The paralytic gave Christ an opportunity to demonstrate to these
inquisitors that He was the Messiah. The friends of the paralytic lowered him through the roof and Jesus
seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” What comes to the mind of the
religious leaders is blasphemy— for only God can forgive sins! Knowing their hearts, Jesus says:

Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and
walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to
the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home” (Mark 2:9-11).

The paralytic rose and went home. The miracle authenticated Christ’s authority to forgive sins. These
religious leaders could not refute the testimony of the miracle.

This is the second time of eighty-two times that Jesus uses His favorite title for Himself — “the Son of
Man.” The first time He used the title, Christ alludes to “Jacob’s ladder” (John 1:51; Gen 28:10-17)
between earth and heaven, revealing God to men and taking men to God. This title comes from Daniel
7:13-14, and every Jew knew it described God. (Note the Jews’ question in John 12:34.)

Four proofs that “The Son of Man” is a title for God in the flesh from Daniel 7:13-14:

1. He is given what God will not give away—authority, glory and sovereign power (Isaiah 42:8).
2. He is worshiped—only God is to be worshiped.
3. He is given an everlasting kingdom—only God’s kingdom is everlasting.
4. He is like a son of man—only through incarnation and virgin birth can one be “like a son of man”
and not actually be so.

Christ’s Authority Over Men (Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32). The positive response
of Levi son of Alpheus (Matthew) to Christ’s summons to leave his tax collector’s booth and follow Him
was outstanding evidence of Christ’s authority over men. Because of his position, Levi was considered
unclean and unfit to fellowship in Jewish society. Yet Christ commanded him, “Follow me.” Levi was
under great financial obligation to Rome; yet he considered the authority of Christ greater than of Rome
and he left everything and followed Jesus.

Levi gave a big reception for Jesus in his house. The Pharisees and teachers of the law grumbled about
Jesus eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who
need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:3132).
These are the theme verses for Christ’s ministry in Luke’s Gospel.

Christ’s Authority Over Tradition (Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39). Neither the
Pharisees nor the disciples of John could understand why the disciples of Jesus did not practice fasting
with prayer since Jesus like John had called for repentance. Why did Jesus not conform to tradition?
Christ said that just as it would be inappropriate to expect the guests at a wedding feast to fast, so it was
inappropriate for His disciples to fast. Messiah’s millennial kingdom is often likened in Scripture to a
wedding feast. The time during which the kingdom is offered precluded fasting. His parables indicate
that Christ did not come to reform an old and worn out system but to introduce something new (cf.
Hebrews 8:13).

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