Paralytic Healed as Make Shift Elevator places Him before Jesus
Written by Pastor James Dorman
1. Matthew’s, Mark’s, and Luke’s Thoughts:
Matthew 9:1-8 (NIV) “Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” 4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7 And the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.”
Mark 2:1-12 (NIV) “A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralytic, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Luke 5:17-26 (NIV) “One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” 21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
2. Passage Outline
“Paralytic Healed as Make Shift Elevator places Him before Jesus”
(Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12 & Luke 5:17-26)
I. Jesus Returns to Capernaum (Matthew 2:1; Mark 2:1)
II. The Area was Quite Congested (Mark 2:2; Luke 5:17)
III. The Healing of the Paralytic (Matthew 9:2-7; Mark 2:3-12a; Luke 5:18-25)
a. Due to the Crowds, His Friends lower Him through the Roof (Matthew 9:2a; Mark 2:3-4; Luke 5:18-19)
b. Because of Their Faith, Jesus heals Him by Forgiving His Sins (Matthew 9:2b; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20)
c. In Response to the Pharisees Objections & Questions, Jesus Reveals His Authority (Matthew 9:3-5; Mark 2:6-9; Luke 5:21-23)
d. To Declare the Scope of His Authority, Jesus Heals the Paralytic (Matthew 9:6-7; Mark 2:10-12a; Luke 5:24-25)
IV. The Response of the People is Amazement, Awe, and Glorification of God (Matthew 9:8; Mark 2:12b; Luke 5:26)
3. Information to Consider
Whether this event took place in His own house (“He was at home,” nasb), or Peter’s house, is not made clear. Since hospitality is one of the basic laws of the East, the people of Capernaum did not wait for an invitation but simply came to the house in droves. This meant that some of the truly needy people could not get close enough to Jesus to receive His help. However, four friends of a palsied man decided to lower their friend through the roof, trusting that Jesus would heal him; and Jesus did. This miracle of healing gave our Lord the opportunity to teach an important lesson about forgiveness.
Consider this scene through the eyes of the Lord Jesus. When He looked up, He saw the four men on the roof with their sick friend. Houses had flat roofs which were usually accessible by means of an outside stairway. It would not be difficult to remove the tiles, laths, and grass that comprised the roof and make an opening large enough to fit their friend through on his mat.
We must admire several characteristics of these men, qualities that ought to mark us as “fishers of men.” For one thing, they were deeply concerned about their friend and wanted to see him helped. They had the faith to believe that Jesus could and would meet his need. They did not simply “pray about it,” but they put some feet to their prayers; and they did not permit the difficult circumstances to discourage them. They worked together and dared to do something different, and Jesus rewarded their efforts. How easy it would have been for them to say, “Well, there is no sense trying to get to Jesus today! Maybe we can come back tomorrow.”
When our Lord looked down, He saw the palsied man lying on his mat; and immediately Jesus went to the heart of the man’s problem—sin. Not all sickness is caused by sin (see John 9:1–3), but evidently this man’s condition was the result of his disobedience to God. Even before He healed the man’s body, Jesus spoke peace to the man’s heart and announced that his sins were forgiven! Forgiveness is the greatest miracle that Jesus ever performs. It meets the greatest need; it costs the greatest price; and it brings the greatest blessing and the most lasting results.
Then Jesus looked around and saw the critics who had come to spy on Him (see Luke 5:17). These religious leaders certainly had every right to investigate the ministry of this new teacher, since the religious life of the nation was under their supervision (Deut. 13). But they should have come with open minds and hearts, seeking truth, instead of with critical minds, seeking heresy. Some of the negative attitude that had been present in Judea (John 4:1–4) had now invaded Galilee, and this was the beginning of the official opposition that ultimately led to our Lord’s arrest and death. He was now so popular that the Jewish leaders dared not ignore Him. In fact, they must have arrived early for the meeting, because they were right at the scene of action! Or perhaps Jesus graciously gave them front row seats.
When the Lord looked within, He saw the critical spirit in their hearts and knew that they were accusing Him of blasphemy. After all, only God can forgive sins; and Jesus had just told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven. Jesus was claiming to be God!
But the next instant, He proved Himself to be God by reading their hearts and telling them what they were thinking (see John 2:25; Heb. 3:13). Since they wanted to “reason” about things, He gave them something to ponder: Which is easier, to heal the man or to tell him he is forgiven? Obviously, it is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven!” because nobody can prove whether or not the forgiveness really took place. So, to back up His words, Jesus immediately healed the man and sent him home. The healing of the man’s body was but an illustration and demonstration of the healing of his soul (Ps. 103:3). The scribes and Pharisees, of course, could neither heal the man nor forgive his sins; so they were caught in their own trap and condemned by their own thoughts.
Jesus affirmed His deity not only by forgiving the man’s sins and healing his body, but also by applying to Himself the title “Son of man.” This title is used fourteen times in Mark’s Gospel, and twelve of these references are found after Mark 8:29 when Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ of God (Mark 2:10, 28; 8:31, 38; 9:9, 12, 31; 10:33, 45; 13:26, 34; 14:21, 41, 62). It was definitely a messianic title (Dan. 7:13–14) and the Jews would have interpreted it that way. Jesus used this title about eighty times in the Gospels.
Suppose the religious leaders had opened their hearts to the truth that day, what could they have learned? For one thing, they could have learned that sin is like sickness and that forgiveness is like having your health restored. This was not a new truth, for the Old Testament Scriptures had said the same thing (Ps. 103:3; Isa. 1:5–6, 16–20); but now it had been demonstrated before their very eyes. They also could have learned that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is indeed the Saviour with authority to forgive sins—and their own sins could have been forgiven! What an opportunity they missed when they came to the meeting with a critical spirit instead of with a repentant heart!”
4. Questions to Ponder
a. Why Does Matthew have this miracle in a different order from Mark and Luke?
b. Why was Jesus in the city again? (Mark 2:1)
c. What sort of bed was used? (Matthew 9:2
d. Whose faith did Jesus observe and recognize? (Mark 2:5)
e. Show the conclusiveness of Jesus’ arguments (Mark 2:8-10)
5. Author’s Comments
In a very short time, the ministry of Jesus had begun to attract large numbers of people. When considering this reality, I wonder if Jesus was walking the streets of Flagstaff today if he would attract as many people today as He did then. Recognizing His tremendous ability to reveal God’s Word, I wonder if the people of Flagstaff would be as open and interested in hearing instruction on God’s insights as were the people living in first century Galilee.
I am also struck by the dedication and ingenuity of the paralytic’s friends. Seeing the size of the crowds and recognizing the difficulty of bringing him to the feet of Jesus, the friends ascended the stairs on the side of the house to the flat roof of the home. Once there, they removed the ceiling materials and lowered him into the presence of Jesus. With these background details in place, Mark turns our attention to the core reason for recording this event in his Gospel.
Non-Christians often state Jesus never claimed to be God and should only be seen as another religious teacher or prophet. In this passage, Mark identifies four clear ways Jesus affirmed His Divine Nature. The first time was, when observing the faith of the friends, Jesus tells the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven.” First century Galileans believed physical infirmities were often caused by the sin of the person or of their immediate ancestors. Whether this person’s illness was caused by sin or by natural circumstance is not addressed by Jesus, but His statement raised the concerns of the teachers of the law who were in attendance – concerns based in Jesus’ claim to possess a Divine Nature.
In verse 9, Mark identifies the second way Jesus reveals His Deity – He read the minds of the Teachers of the Law by asking, “which is easier, to tell the young man his sins are forgiven or by telling him to pick up his mat and go home?”
The third way Mark reveals Jesus’ claim of His Deity is when the young man is healed. The Teachers of the Law were correct in questioning Jesus’ claim He could forgive sins, but once the young man was healed, Jesus’ claim was clearly affirmed. It is one thing to state you believe you can forgive sins, it is quite another to have God validate it by allowing the healing of a physical infirmity in order to prove the point.
The final way Mark lets us know of Jesus’ Deity was when Jesus referred to Himself as the “Son of Man” (vs. 10). When Jesus assigns this title to Himself, He is clearly stating He is the fulfillment of the Messianic promise found in Daniel 7.
Mark closes this passage by telling us the people in attendance were amazed, responded by praising God, and testified to themselves and their neighbors they had never seen anything like this before.
While Jesus is no longer personally walking in our midst, if we are alert and open to God’s presence and activity in our world, like these first century Galileans, we will be able to observe God’s active involvement in our lives allowing us to experience similar moments of amazement, worship and testimony! Events affirming the Divine Nature of Jesus, our Savior and Lord!
6. Closing Prayer
We are so grateful to be able to explore the pages of Your Word in order to discover the tremendous truths You have provided to those in search of Your truth.
As we discover these truths, may we adopt them and allow them to guide the way in which we live our lives.
Having recognized the deity of Jesus, may we accept Him as our Lord and Savior and submit to His leadership as we pursue the great gift of life You have graciously given to each of us.
In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!
7. Answers to “Questions to Ponder”
a. Matthew had yet to be called as an apostle and his account of this event most likely would not have been as an eyewitness. Therefore, this may be the reason he placed it in a different order from Mark and Luke.
b. Jesus’ return to Capernaum may have been due to one or all of the following reasons: (1) a desire to return to His home base following his first ministry excursion; (2) to escape the gathering crowds; and (3) to prepare Himself and His followers to travel to Jerusalem.
c. An Oriental bed was a thin mattress, or pallet, was just large enough for a person to lie upon. Pallets generally used by the poor were made of sheepskin with the wool left on.
d. Jesus observed the faith of the man, the faith of his friends, and marveled at the combination of both.
e. Jesus desired to affirm He was the Son of God. Only God could and can forgive sin. When Jesus states, “Your sins are forgiven you”, the miracle of healing affirmed he had the power to forgive sins. If not, God would not have allowed the healing to occur.
Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Mk 2:1