And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemes.
Read Chapter 9
George Leo Haydock
This man blasphemeth, by pretending to have a power to forgive sins, which none but God can do; and they looked upon Jesus as a man only. It is true, and what all Catholics teach, that God alone hath power of himself to forgive sins. But Christ, who was both God and man, could, and did communicate this power of forgiving sins in his name, to bishops and priests, as his ministers and instruments in the sacraments of baptism and penance. We have Christ's clear words for it, (John xx. 23.) whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them (Witham)
And behold some of the scribes. The Jewish rulers wished to defame the character of our divine Redeemer, but by this means they rendered the miracle much more famous, and Christ turned their wicked designs to their own confusion. (St. Chrysostom)
For Christ says, Why do you think evil in your hearts? in which words Jesus plainly evinces to them the reality of his divinity; for who knows the secrets of man's heart, but God alone? (St. Jerome...
We read in the prophet the words of God: “It is I who cleanse you from all your iniquities.” Consequently the scribes, because they were judgmental in construing the words of God, accused him of blasphemy. But the Lord, reading their thoughts, shows himself to be God who knows the hidden things of the heart. He breaks his silence: “With the same majesty and power by which I perceive your thoughts, I am able to forgive their sins; see for yourselves what the paralytic has received.” .
In this case indeed He discloses also another sign, and that no small one, of His own Godhead, and of His equality in honor with the Father. For whereas they said, To unbind sins pertains to God only, He not only unbinds sins, but also before this He makes another kind of display in a thing which pertained to God only; the publishing the secrets in the heart. For neither had they uttered what they were thinking.
But that it belongs to God only to know men's secrets, hear what says the prophet, Thou most entirely alone know the hearts; 2 Chronicles 6:30 and again, God tries the hearts and reins; and Jeremiah too says, The heart is deep above all things, and it is man, and who shall know him? and, Man shall look on the face, but God on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 And by many things one may see, that to know what is in the mind belongs to God alone.
Only God could know what is in another’s mind. That Jesus has this knowledge is attested from many evidences. Jesus shows here that he is truly God and equal to the One by whom he is begotten. He does this by revealing and making clear to them what they were thinking. Indeed, some were debating within themselves the very issue of whether Jesus is nothing less than God. But because they were afraid of the crowd, they did not dare to bring their opinion out into the open. He revealed their thoughts while showing great restraint when he said, “Why do you ponder evil thoughts in your hearts?” And surely if there was any cause to be annoyed it would have been felt by the suffering paralytic, because it seemed that he had been almost completely bypassed. Imagine him complaining, as if he were thinking: “I came to receive healing, but now you are talking about my sins being forgiven. How do you know this? Why do you change the subject?” But in fact the paralytic now says nothing of the sort. ...
By knowing their thoughts, Jesus shows that He is God. He rebukes them by saying, "You think that I am blaspheming by promising to forgive sins, which is a great thing, and that I resort to this because it is something which can not be verified. But by healing the body, I shall guarantee that the soul has been healed as well. By doing the lesser deed, though it appears to be more difficult, I shall also confirm the remission of sins, which is indeed something great even though it appears easier to you since it is not visible to the eye."