Today’s gospel reading, in which Jesus says to a man, “Your sins are forgiven”, reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ famous argument for why Jesus cannot be “just” a great moral teacher. You might have heard of his “Liar, Lunatic, Lord” argument. Lewis wrote, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse” (Mere Christianity).
Matthew 9:2 is a perfect example of “the sort of thing Jesus said” that Lewis has in mind. What sort of a person goes around saying, “Your sins are forgiven”? Where could he possibly have got such authority from? It is such an outlandish thing to say that Lewis is quite right: the man who said this must either be lying, or out of his mind – unless he is telling the truth.
I stumbled across a sceptical blogger who suggested that Jesus’ claims to be God are only found in John’s gospel, which (according to this blogger) pushes a view of Jesus’ divinity that is alien to the rest of the New Testament. But in fact there are plenty of more subtle divinity claims by Jesus in the other gospels, including today’s reading, Jesus’ claim to be the judge of the world in Matthew 25:31, and his remark in Mark 13:31 that his words will never pass away, to name a few.
Jesus certainly claimed to be the Son of God, and I, for one, am convinced that he was neither liar nor lunatic. Which means that he is the Lord. Our online service today features an interview with Michaela Tibi, in which she explains how she too came to believe that Jesus is Lord and what he has done in her life.