Forgiving the Paralytic

What does it mean when Jesus heals the paralytic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Matthew 9, Jesus goes into a building to teach and a paralytic is lowered down to him. Jesus tells the man his sins are forgiven. When the Pharisees have indignant thoughts at this, Jesus calls them out on it and then shows who He is by telling the paralytic to take up his mat and walk, which he does.

This is more than just healing. We’ve all heard several messages about how Jesus could forgive and that shows that He is the one who thinks He has been sinned against. This is true, but I want to point out something else meant by the forgiveness.

Normally, if you needed forgiveness, you would need to go to the priest and make the proper offering. This would be centered around the temple. Jesus cuts out the middlemen entirely. Jesus plays the role of a priest and He plays the role of the temple.

Orthodox Preterists like myself stress the meaning of the temple being destroyed in 70 A.D. It was no longer needed. It was a sign of the old covenant and when that covenant was done, the temple that represented it had to go.

When Jesus heals the paralytic, He is not just showing that paralyzed people will not be in the Kingdom seeing as they will be healed and moving about, but He is also demonstrating more. His healing of the body backs His authority to proclaim healing of the soul. He is showing to His audience that there is no need of priests or the temple to obtain forgiveness. All that is needed is Jesus.

Why do we not have priests like that anymore? Because Jesus is our high priest. Why do we not have a temple anymore? Because Jesus is our temple. Jesus comes and shows the covenant system is fulfilled in Him. The new has come and there is no need for the old.

For a Jew, this is completely radical, and it should be for us as well. We need to really recognize what a major shift Jesus caused in the world politically and theologically when He came. The temple was seen as the emblem of Judaism. Now as Jesus says later on, one greater than the temple is here.

One greater than the temple is still here. Our true high priest and temple has already come.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Jesus The Priest

What do I think of Nicholas Perrin’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Go to several people and ask who Jesus was, Christian and non-Christian. You’ll get several different answers. On the far left fringe side, you’ll get that He’s a mythological figure drawn together from various pagan religions. On the more conservative side, you’ll hear that He’s the Son of God, Son of Man, God incarnate, and the Messiah. A Jewish Christian might more emphasize Him being the Messiah. A skeptical person might say He was a great teacher and some would say He was a Marxist, a Socialist, a feminist, a homosexual, or any number of positions.

Yet you will be hard-pressed to find someone who will say “Jesus was the high priest of Israel.”

This is the position that Nicholas Perrin holds in his work. He does not deny the other more conservative aspects, but thinks we need to realize that Jesus was establishing Himself as the true priest of Israel and thus challenging the reigning priesthood at the time. He was also raising up His disciples to be priests after Him and continue the priesthood ministry of bringing God to men.

This starts with the Lord’s prayer and goes on from there. This is really a very priestly prayer with significant eschatological overtones. There is nothing wrong with praying it as a way of dealing with daily temptation and seeking to find God in our daily lives, but let’s not make refuse to make it even more than that. Jesus in this prayer sets apart a community that is awaiting the Kingdom of God and seeking to bring it about at the same time.

From there, Perrin goes to other places like the baptism of Jesus by John and how there were overtones that were present at this event that would have been seen by both John and Jesus. The arguments are very complex as page upon page is presented to deal with each one. Thus, I will not be fully summarizing them in a brief review.

Some might ask how Jesus could be a priest in His time in the eyes of His contemporaries if it was known priests came from the tribe of Levi and Jesus from Judah. Perrin answers that David and Solomon both took on priestly duties in their work as king and both in their own way were considered prophets. Jesus is acting in the same way. Josiah and Hezekiah could be different cases since neither of those kings ruled over a unified kingdom.

Perrin’s work is a fascinating look at a topic that doesn’t get much discussion. In our day and age, when we think of a priest, we normally think of someone in the Orthodox and Catholic traditions. Perhaps those of us who are Protestant need to reclaim the title. It is hard for us to be a kingdom of priests when none of us are called priests.

I understand there is another book in the works on this topic which I hope to see because there was one glaring omission in this work that kept coming to my mind. There was very little interaction with Hebrews. This is the book of the Bible that I contend has the most direct teaching about Jesus being a priest and yet the relevant chapters were not really touched. I am left wondering if this was deliberate on Perrin’s part to be saved for the future book that could look at how this is expressed in the epistles. I certainly hope so.

Those who do want to think about Jesus in a new role but consistent with traditional Christian teaching should give this work a shot. It is very thorough and very well-argued and quite enjoyable. It is a bit deep for the layman, but those wanting to get the jewels will get them if they dig deep enough.

In Christ,
Nick Peters