Sometimes it seems crazy that Jesus would forgive someone else’s sins. It has often been pointed out that this only makes sense if he were God, since who has the right to do that? This is true. Yet, you might wonder why all sins are against God, when he is not the one that has been hurt by the words or actions committed.
But when you think about the nature of reality it makes perfect sense for all sins to ultimately be against God though they are also against others. Imagine you are at a large dinner with the people you generally know and do business with in life, but you also have a special guest, a king or president or honorable figure who sits near enough to hear your conversation and see whatever you might do.
Now imagine you verbally disrespect another guest, or break out into a fight with them, or steal some of their food, or ogle their wife. Your crime would certainly be against that person, but you would also be offending the honour of your esteemed guest. In fact the shock and reproach of doing those things in their presence would be much more than if they had not been there. It makes the real offence, the deepest most ugly offence, against them, not even against the person to whom it was consciously directed, even though their hurt remains. You have really, with your actions, proclaimed that the King’s presence demands no better behaviour from you. In other words, you don’t care what he thinks. Ultimately, you have tarnished his name and reputation and made him a mockery. To be forgiven, you would require not only the forgiveness of the particular person, but also of your guest. The more esteemed, the worse the offence.
This situation is easy to get our heads around. And yet this is a description of the reality that we live in. God is present and near us at every moment. The nature of the universe is wrapped up in the Trinity, the perfect, eternal community of love. When we violate that nature, we offend not only human persons, but the divine person. We are ultimately transgressing, not just some abstract law, but the law of his character from which the moral law comes.
Now Jesus’ words are seen in a new light. They are both astounding, as he is claiming to be the very fabric of that moral law, and compassionate, as he would be willing to excuse our rebellion in his presence.