Coming near the beginning of Matthew’s gospel and at the very end, two statements made by Jesus Christ share similarities, but are quite different in their import.

… the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins … All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Mt 9.6; 28.18 NET

Both statement include “authority on earth.” (Though this probably doesn’t constitute an inclusio.) The contextual emphases of both, however, show some important differences.

In the first, Jesus forgives one man. In the second, he gives to the church their orders for all time, for all peoples.

In the first, Jesus speaks of his authority while on the earth. In the second, his authority establishes what the church will do after he ascends into heaven.

In the first, he indicates what he is about to do personally. In the second, he lays out what he will accomplish through the proclamation of the gospel by his people.

In the first, Jesus declares his right to forgive as he sees fit, under the conditions he determines. In the second, he specifies conditions that will govern man’s necessary response to receive forgiveness.

In the first, Jesus still lives and works under the law of Moses, so that forgiveness looks forward to what will be accomplished on the Cross. In the second, he inaugurates the terms of admission for the new covenant, based on his death and resurrection that have already taken place.

In the first, Jesus gladly receives one who is brought to him. In the second, he sends his people into all the world, to all nations, on a never-ending mission.

In the first, Jesus gives one order to the forgiven and healed man. In the second, he urges that everyone obey his entire revealed will.

Dear God, we confess Jesus as Lord. Give us power to obey him completely and proclaim him as Lord and Savior.

What do you think?

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