The Profession of Faith
If the Law and the Jerusalem Temple could be occasions
of opposition to Jesus by Israel’s religious authorities, his role in
the redemption of sins, the divine work par excellence, was the true
stumbling-block for them.
Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by eating with tax collec-
tors and sinners as familiarly as with themselves.
among them “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous
and despised others,” Jesus affirmed: “I have not come to call the
righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
He went further by pro-
claiming before the Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who
pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves.
Jesus gave scandal above all when he identified his merci
ful conduct toward sinners with God’s own attitude toward
He went so far as to hint that by sharing the table of sinners
he was admitting them to the messianic banquet.
But it was most
especially by forgiving sins that Jesus placed the religious authori
ties of Israel on the horns of a dilemma. Were they not entitled to
demand in consternation, “Who can forgive sins but God
By forgiving sins Jesus either is blaspheming as a man
who made himself God’s equal or is speaking the truth, and his
person really does make present and reveal God’s name.
Only the divine identity of Jesus’ person can justify so
absolute a claim as “He who is not with me is against me”; and his
saying that there was in him “something greater than Jonah, . . .
greater than Solomon,” something “greater than the Temple”; his
reminder that David had called the Messiah his Lord,
affirmations, “Before Abraham was,
”; and even “I and the
Father are one.”
5:30; 7:36; 11:37; 14:1.
18:9; 5:32; cf.
5:18; 10:33; 17:6, 26.
12:6, 30, 36, 37, 41-42.