Matthew 9: 1-8
1. Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7 Then the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.
When this is discussed, even by preachers, I think it is sometimes gotten backwards. Because the Pharisees think he is blaspheming, we are reminded that whatever miracles a man might accomplish by whatever means, only God himself can forgive one's sins. So saying "Your sins are forgiven" should be the harder thing to say. Only God can do that, right?
Not so fast. It might be much harder to do the forgiving, but it is much easier to say that, because there are no external signs. Anyone can say "Your sins are forgiven." I knew an atheist psychologist decades ago who would say that all the time, especially to religious people. It is much harder to say "Get up, take your mat, and go home" even though it is a lesser event, because if it doesn't work you are immediately exposed.