Luke 5:23

ESV Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
NIV Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?
NASB Which is easier, to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?
CSB Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?
NLT Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’?
KJV Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?

What does Luke 5:23 mean?

A crowded teaching session in a house is interrupted when a paralyzed man descends from a hole in the ceiling. The men lowering their friend are attempting to get him through the crowd and in front of Jesus. Seeing the faith involved in such a bold display, Jesus forgives the man's sins. The scribes and Pharisees present are horrified and conclude that Jesus is committing blasphemy by claiming God's prerogative (Luke 5:17–22). Jesus knows their thoughts and challenges them in two ways.

First, Jesus notes how easy it is to say the words, "your sins are forgiven." Such a thing is spiritual, and there's no tangible evidence that would disprove it. But it's much harder to heal a man who is unable to walk. If Jesus can heal this man, that is strong evidence His words about forgiveness are also valid.

Second, Jesus pushes back against a cultural bias by showing its own wrong conclusions. In Jewish social and traditional culture, handicaps were thought to be the result of sin (John 9:1–3). If the man is healed, this tradition would affirm that he is freed from his sins—that the healing is a result of God's forgiveness of his sins.

These two concepts combine to send a powerful message to everyone, but especially to Jesus' critics. If Jesus has the power of God to heal, His claim to have the authority to declare forgiveness must also be valid. Miracles would validate His position as at least that of a prophet: God's mouthpiece. The scribes and Pharisees have silently reasoned (Mark 2:6–7) that Jesus has committed blasphemy because of His words. If they are intellectually honest, they must reason that the healing miracle disproves that initial judgment.
What is the Gospel?
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