TEXT: Mark 2:1-12
- We have more events and miracles of Jesus recorded in Capernaum than any other place… even Jerusalem
- We have already looked at two of those miracles: “Jairus” and “The Woman with Bleeding.” This lesson will look at a third miracle: “The Paralyzed Man.”
- Sadly, these miracles and others by Jesus did not lead to faith for many in Capernaum, and the city was eventually condemned by Jesus – Matthew 11:23
SETTING OF THE STORY:
- The story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man in Capernaum is found in all three Synoptic Gospels – Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:18-26
- Using Mark as our main text, we know from Mark 1:21-45 records numerous miracles Jesus had already performed in Capernaum and in the surrounding area of Galilee. In addition, His unique teaching was compelling to many. The combination of miracles and teachings were now drawing large crowds wherever He goes.
- Mark 2:1 says He had now come back “home” (NASB, NIV, ESV) or was “in the house.” (KJV) Most believe this is a reference to the specific house where he was staying or living, whether one provided by Peter’s family as some believe, or that He secured on His own.
- “Many were gathered there” (Mark 2:2) indicates it was a large crowd and a larger size room. The crowd was made up of those who heard He was back in Capernaum, as well as a significant number of scribes (Mark 2:6, Pharisees and teachers of the law (Luke 5:17) who had come from all over Galilee and even Jerusalem. This unusual gathering of religious teachers and leaders was not primarily out of a desire to hear and see Jesus, but out of suspicion and perhaps even jealousy.
- The specific topic of His teaching is not recorded, for the disturbance of men breaking a hole in the roof/ceiling of the house overrides everything else.
- Four men have come carrying a paralyzed man. They were carrying him on a bed – Greek “kline” meaning a couch for reclining at meals according to Vines Expository Dictionary, not for sleeping.
- They were not able to get to Jesus because of the crowd between the house door and Jesus. Apparently this man’s friends and/or family did not mind interrupting the good lesson Jesus was teaching. Nor, as it turns out, did Jesus!
- Climbing onto the flat-top roof (probably a ladder or even steps gave them access since ancient roofs were often used for storage or enjoying the cool of late evening and night), the proceeded to the area above Jesus and tear open a hole. This was likely easier then than it would be in our homes today because of their style of construction. So, they have now not only interrupted His lesson but torn a gaping hole in His roof as well.
- Likely, Jesus is the only person in the entire room who is not at least annoyed, if not horrified, at what is happening!
- The cause and extent of the man’s paralysis is not given to us. He could have been injured in an accident, suffered from a degenerative condition, or even been born this way (though several of the other miracle stories make a point of noting when someone was born with a condition).
THE MIRACULOUS EVENT:
- “Seeing THEIR faith” (recorded by all three Gospels), Jesus spoke directly to the paralyzed man, “…Your sins are forgiven.”
- Matthew and Mark record Jesus addressing the man as “Son,” while Luke uses the word, “Friend.”
- Matthew also adds, “Take courage, son…” (9:2) This possibly is like His words to Jairus, “Do not be afraid, only believe.” Both Vines and Thayers indicate the Greek “tharseo” includes “cheer, comfort, confidence.” Did Jesus see in the man’s demeanor or heart fear and doubt as he lay here between a sympathetic Jesus and an intimidating crowd? For sure, his longterm disability probably had made him the object of accusations that he suffered so because of his sins. It is even possible he had even sustained this injury while in the commission of some sin.
- Only one other time do I recall that Jesus forgave a person’s sins (Luke 7:48) and it was not as part of a miracle. In John 5:14 Jesus tells a crippled man He has healed, “Do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you;” but Jesus is not connecting his previous condition to sin, nor forgiving any present sin, but only warning that the results of a future sinful life would produce something far worse than he had already endured!
- Surely, if Jesus had only forgiven His sins, He had already given this man a gift about measure. He could have gone home that day rejoicing yet still paralyzed, if he truly understand what Jesus had done for Him!
- But there was no rejoicing in the hearts and minds of the scribes, Pharisees and teachers of the Law on hearing this blessing pronounced. And Jesus could read their minds and know their “reasoning.” They referred to Jesus as “this man;” they knew that “God alone” can forgive sins. Therefore, “this man” is guilty of blasphemy, a crime punishable by death!
- As Jesus would do on other occasions, He showed clearly the faulty arguments and reasoning of these “scholars.” His logical presentation was simple – “Only God has the power to heal this man and make him walk. And only God has the authority to forgive his sins. Therefore, turning to the paralyzed man still lying on his couch, “Get up, pick up your couch, and go home!”
- This was the moment of truth, the ultimate test! Either the man would get up and walk… or Jesus was a fraud and blasphemer! The man walked!
- “The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins!” (Mark 2:10 as well as in Matthew and Luke). Using the word “authority” seems to me to be a clear claim to Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah such as Daniel 7:13-14 and Psalm 2. In fact, Jesus will use the word “authority” about 30 times in the Gospels to refer to what He has, or has been given by God.
- The results of the miracle:
- The man was healed, stood up and walked out carrying his couch or pallet. Perhaps only orthopedic doctors, physical therapists and other medical professionals could fully appreciate what had happened to this man in only an instant! Bones, joints, muscles, and nerves that had not worked or been used for a very long time suddenly were restored to full health and functionality. Further, the control center of his brain that directs and manages their proper functioning was immediately activated and programmed to send and receive all the unimaginably detailed signals and controls that would make him rise and then walk! He “went home glorifying God!” He had received two of the greatest possible gifts that day – spiritual healing and physical healing.
- Luke 5:26 says of the witnesses to these events that “astonishment grabbed hold of them” (my literal rendering), “were filled with fear (terror, “phobos“), and began “glorifying God” that He had given such “authority” to a man (Matthew 9:8). “We have seen totally unexpected (literally, paradoxical) things today!”
- However, the religious scholars seemed unconvinced. It will not be long before they will be again questioning Jesus’ authority.
- It seems clear to me that the Number One point the Gospel writers wanted to convey in telling this story is this: Don’t just marvel at the miracles of Jesus; draw the right logical conclusion about who He is. If He has the authority make paralyzed people walk, then He can also forgive sins.
- Some/many people will not believe even if presented with sufficient evidence to believe who Jesus was. Their reasons might be many: vested interest in another system; personal cost to change; peer pressure, etc. For some, no amount of evidence will be enough. That does not nullify the evidence; it is only an acknowledgement that some will simply refuse to believe no matter what.
- Jesus ultimately did not come to do miracles so people could marvel at His power. He came to heal people spiritually in their relationship to God. Right standing with God is far better than being able to stand up and walk! Consider the point of Matthew 16:26: “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?”