Forgiveness is in the Air?
Luke 5:24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. (parallels in Mark and Matthew)
Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

The question: If Jesus has authority on earth to forgive sins, why does he ask the Father to do it in 23:34?

We know of someone who claimed that because Jesus was on the cross in 23:34, he was no longer "on the earth" (being lifted off the ground) and so had no authority to forgive sins ("power upon earth") -- in other words, if Jesus had jumped in the air while speaking to the paralytic, his blessing would have been ineffectual. I think we can offer a better answer than that.

In the NT, the relationship between God, Jesus, and believer is framed in terms of a reciprocal, or client-patron, relationship. God is the patron (like the big rich guy who gives gifts); the believer is the client (who gets the gifts, and in turn is loyal to and serves the patron); Jesus is the broker -- who is a go-between for the two, and who acts upon the authority of the patron. (For the OT, God would be suzerain, Moses the mediator, and Israel the vassals; and to some extent, this mirrors the NT relationship as well.)


In both cases, Jesus is still the broker for God's forgiveness -- what we see above are two stages in the process: Luke 23:34 is the broker's request to the patron on the client's behalf -- an example of Jesus exercising the authority he has been given by letting the patron know who to forgive. Luke 5:24 represents the broker reporting the patron's answer to the client's request.

Objection: Black’s Law Dictionary shows that the terms patron and client are the same thing: "A regular customer or client of a business." And a broker is a "negotiator between prospective buyers and sells … in matters of trade, commerce, or navigation".

Checking Black's Law Dictionary for terms that have to do with the ancient client-patronage system is out of order. (Several of these links are now defunct.) This explains what these terms mean in the context of serious study of the social world of the New Testament.

You're throwing out a concept of a totally unrelated society (Roman/Latin/secular) and using it to explain Jewish society (Near Eastern/Semitic/religious).

Not at all. The Jews experienced patronage (reciprocal relationships) too. YHWH (suzerain = patron), Moses (broker of the covenant), Israel (clients). See for example here, where it says:

The conceptual structure of Hosea is governed by a postmonarchic metanarrative of YHWH as faithful patron, Israel as unfaithful client, YHWH as the one who punishes Israel.

Or here:

While some of her criticism is deserved, an anthropological understanding of contingent honor in patron/client relations (i.e., for YHWH and Israel) and an appreciation for the challenges YHWH addresses to rival deities in Isaiah would have shown links with the model she dismisses.

See here for how the suzerain model is equated with patronage.

This Biblical scholar discusses Jesus as broker here:

Most importantly, the personnel of worship are dearly defined: the Patron Father who bestows benefaction on his clients by means of Jesus, the Broker. Jesus, in turn, brokers the concerns to the clients to the Patron.

The terms are still even used in modern settings, as here:

The present moribund state of what in the late 1970s and early 1980s was a pervasive patron-client system provides us with some revealing insights into some basic changes which have affected local class relations. A local Viet entrepreneur, Mr. A., played an important role as broker in the patron-client system from 1976 to 1982, when he abandoned this position for basically two reasons.

So far from being a novel idea, this is mainstream Biblical scholarship -- matters like patronage can be found in sources like deSilva's Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity and Pilch and Malina's Handbook of Biblical Social Values.

If Jesus is indeed the broker of divine forgiveness, than why was the Temple sacrificial system still valid; a system Jesus both defended and participated in?

Participated in? Really? What version of the Bible is that found in, where Jesus brings sacrifices to the Temple? Nor was he crucified in the Temple.

Jesus' cry of forgiveness was as much to the Romans as to the Jews: Romans who were considered hated pagan and NOT under the Hebrew god Yahweh and his Covenant.

Was or was not the Christian message preached to those very Romans? Did or did not Jesus show favor to a Roman centurion and to other Gentiles? So what if a business dictionary was used? One of your sources was a website entitled: BNET or Business Network: The go-to place for management.

The article in question is reprinted from the Biblical Theology Bulletin and is on "findarticles.com" -- the BNET frame is some kind of advertisement or support mechanism that appears around ALL articles on that site.

Stiebert in that link clearly states she is only using a modern analog: "This could be read in analogy with his could be read in analogy with vassal – suzerain / patron-client." Again, notice the sentence section: "This could be "read in analogy..."

Not quite. Here's the whole context:

Where the shame of the faithful is mentioned alongside the mocking of enemies, who sometimes revile Yhwh's name too, there may be an indication of an appeal to Yhwh's sense of obligation to his people. This could be read in analogy with vassal – suzerain / patron-client relationship (protection in exchange for loyalty), or imply that Yhwh himself is capable of feeling shame in the light of shortcoming or incongruity.

The objection quotes the bolded portion and takes it to mean that Steibert somehow questions the vassal – suzerain / patron-client equation. That's not what's happening here. The whole context indicates that the "analogy" is correlated with the mention of shame and mocking -- not that the equation is an "analogy," modern or otherwise.

-JPH