Photo by Sgarton on Morgue File.
Yesterday, we covered the first part of the pericope found in Mark 2.1-12. Today we will look again at this pericope. This pericope details the event of Jesus healing the paralytic. In yesterday’s post, we discussed how the four men carrying the paralytic removed part of the roof, so they could lower him down to Jesus. We talked about how the house was full as Jesus was preaching. Here is the pericope:
And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”−he said to the paralytic−”I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mk. 2.1-12, ESV)
We left off yesterday with the hole in the roof and everyone in the room looking up at four strange, bewildering faces. Now that the hole is there (imagine what the homeowner must have thought!) they lower the paralytic down to Jesus. I am sure this caused quite a stir amongst the gathered crowd that day. I am sure some were critical of the whole thing. I am sure they thought it was irresponsible to hoist a paralyzed man onto the top of a house and then lower him down a hole. I am sure there were others who thought it was somewhat rude to pull such an attention-getting stunt. After all, they have just damaged someone’s house! They have detracted from Jesus’ sermon. They have interrupted their time with Jesus. While others, no doubt, were simply staring up into the sunlit hole with their mouths agape and their minds bewildered.
Nonetheless, the man is lowered down, through the hole, to Jesus. What Jesus does in response to this whole thing is remarkable. Let us stop and ask a question before we discuss what Jesus actually did. Why do you think these four men went through all this trouble to get this man in front of Jesus? Why do you think the paralytic wanted so desperately to be in front of Jesus? Why do you think they took him to see Jesus that day? Was it to have a front and center seat so he could listen to Jesus preach? I doubt it. Was it so the man could say he actually had laid his eyes on Jesus, this man who was receiving so much press and publicity for his mighty teachings and work? No, I do not think so. Why was he there? The answer is obvious isn’t it . . . he was there because he wanted to be healed of his paralysis. The four men went through all the trouble of removing part of the roof because they wanted Jesus to heal their friend and restore his broken body.
But . . . that is not what Jesus does (at least initially). Instead, Jesus looks at the men gazing down from the roof above and at the paralytic, now at his feet, and Jesus says, Your faith has healed you, rise and walk is that what Jesus said? NO!
It says that Jesus saw their faith and told the paralytic his sins were forgiven. Whose faith? Undoubtedly, the faith of the four men and, I am sure, the faith of the paralytic as well. These four men showed amazing faith. It was because they believed Jesus was able to heal their friend of an incurable condition that they carried him to see Jesus. It was because of this belief that they problem solved to get their friend in front of Jesus. It was because they believed that they worked hard to remove a part of the roof to gain access to Jesus. As we mentioned yesterday, faith focuses on Christ and not the obstacles!
Now, I picture a few more bewildered looks when Jesus pronounced forgiveness. I picture the four men, drenched in sweat, looking at each other, then down at Jesus, then over to the paralytic, then back at each other as if to ask, What did Jesus just say?!
I picture the paralytic looking at his friends, then to Jesus and to those in the room around him and then down at his bed-ridden body and thinking, What did Jesus just say?!
I am sure the thought crossed their minds, Well, Jesus that is all well and good. But, what about his body? What about his paralysis? We went through all this trouble and fuss to get him to you so you could heal him of his paralysis! We have no intention of having to carry him back home . . . we want him to walk on his own!
I am not saying he was not thankful for the forgiveness, I am sure he was. But, in that moment what was probably tantamount to him and his friends was the broken condition of his physical body. But, Jesus made the point that the spiritual condition of a person is of far greater importance than the physical!
Now, the importance of this pronouncement did not go unnoticed by the religious leaders who were in attendance that day. They began thinking to themselves (not aloud) that Jesus had just committed the sin of blasphemy. After all, only God can forgive sins. And, on that last point, they were exactly right! Only God can truly forgive sins. And, if it had been any other man, any other of the millions and billions of men who have ever walked this planet, they would have been right about the charge of blasphemy too: but, Jesus was not like all the other men, he was and is unique . . . the incarnate Son of God!
Jesus demonstrates his divinity, not only by forgiving the man’s sins, but by knowing the thoughts of the religious leaders. Jesus answers their thoughts (I am sure that had their heads reeling!). He answers them, as was his custom, by asking them a question. Basically the question was this, Which is easier to say to the paralytic, your sins are forgiven or rise and walk?
Which do you think . . . ?