Forgiveness Is Divine: Why Can Jesus Forgive Sins?

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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What does the expression “forgiveness is divine” mean? Does the act of forgiveness really come from God?

To say that forgiveness is divine means that you believe in the idea that forgiveness comes from God. This is because only God is able to forgive sin.

Read more to find out about the phrase “forgiveness is divine” and what it means for those who want to prove that Jesus was real.

Forgiveness Is Divine

For most Christians, Jesus’s miracles are the core piece of evidence for his deity. However, New Testament scholars concede that figures other than Jesus were able to perform miracles. So if to forgive is divine, what sets Jesus apart?

One less-remarked-upon trait of Jesus that indicates his deity is his forgiveness of sin. In the Jewish tradition, when men sinned, they sinned against God and subsequently had to beg his forgiveness. Jesus’s ability to forgive sin Himself indicates his deity, for God alone can forgive sin.

And not only was Jesus able to forgive sin: He was utterly without sin himself. Other than God, no being is morally perfect, and so, therefore, Jesus is God.

Forgiveness and the Resurrection

Forgiveness is an important part of why Jesus is believed to be divine, since forgiveness is divine. For all the other tokens of Jesus’s deity—his forgiveness of humanity’s sins, his healing of the sick, his raising of the dead—the truth of his divinity rests on his resurrection: the fact that he died on the cross and returned to life.

However, almost as long as there have been believers in Christ, there have been skeptics who argue the Resurrection was a hoax. The Koran, for example, written in the seventh century, floats the idea that Jesus never died on the cross; and conspiracy theorists throughout the centuries have speculated that Jesus simply swooned on the cross and was revived later on.

Given the commonness of these conjectures, Strobel decides to consult someone who can speak to the medical evidence of Jesus’s death and resurrection: Dr. Alexander Metherell, a former research scientist and radiologist who has published widely on topics in both engineering and medicine (in addition to an MD from the University of Miami in Florida, he has a PhD in Engineering from University of Bristol in England).

Since forgiveness is divine, many scholars conclude that Jesus is also divine. The belief that to forgive is divine also helps people understand the meaning of Jesus’s ability to forgive.

Forgiveness Is Divine: Why Can Jesus Forgive Sins?

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  • How an atheist lawyer-journalist researched Christ and began believing
  • The key arguments against the existence of Christ, and why they don't hold up
  • How to make up your own mind about whether Christ existed

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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