Mark 2:1-12 (NIV) Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers 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 paralyzed man, 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 by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “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 this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 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!”
I have read this passage many times over the years and just recently really stopped to park here and look at some of the different aspects of it. It is almost like looking at a diamond – depending on which way the light is hitting it, you will see a different reflection from different angles. Look with me today at some of the angles in this passage and let the Light shine His reflection.
First we see that Jesus was in town, scripture says ‘he had come home’. By now word had gotten out to the people that wherever Jesus went, healings were taking place and so I imagine everyone and their best friend was trying to get to him, especially if they had a need for healing.
In the same story in Luke 5:17-26 it says ‘Jesus was teaching the Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem.” So, imagine this… they are having a major bible study with Jesus.
Change scenes for a minute. There is a man somewhere who is paralyzed. He cannot do anything without someone helping him. I almost get this picture that he might not have had many friends because of the state he was in – after all, he probably wasn’t too much fun because he couldn’t really ‘do’ anything. But by some chance, he had this one friend who saw past his disability and heard about Jesus and how Jesus healed. Maybe, just maybe, if he could get some of his buddies to help bring this paralytic on his mat to Jesus – maybe Jesus would heal him.
So… he sets out to round up a few guys to help him since he can’t possibly lift this guy alone (after all, there were no wheel chairs in that day!). The paralytic’s friend asks around and the 1st guy he asks says “are you crazy? Help this outcast? No way!’ ; the next friend he asks says ‘OK – but you and I can’t do this alone, we’ll need two more people to help us.” I imagine him asking a few more of his friends or people he knew and them scoffing at him, “You want to help this invalid?”, “You’re crazy!”, “He’s just a cripple.”, “He must’ve done something wrong to be in that state – let him be”. “Besides, we have better things to do – we need to go fishing and hunting (or maybe watch football! Lol).” But, that first friend refused to be discouraged because he believed if he could just get this man to Jesus – he could get healed and his life was worth it! Finally, two others came on board – Yay God!
I imagine the trip from the man’s house to where Jesus was was probably grueling. Each of the four men had a corner of the mat and although they didn’t want to complain, a person in that paralyzed state is dead weight and it was getting heavy. I can imagine people looking and watching as they passed by; “Haha – who do they think they are? Crazy I tell you!”. Others secretly applauding them that they would have the courage to step out and help this one in need, in spite of the mocking, if only they could be so bold.
Imagine what must have gone through the mind of the four when they arrived at the house Jesus was at! “Were we wrong in trying to get this man to Jesus?” NO WAY! Even though there was a crowd and the door was blocked, they would figure something out!
In the back of the house, there were stairs to the roof. I imagine one motioning to the other – look you come with me and you two stay here with the man. Two of them conspiring together and sizing things out; if we get up there and go on the roof, then we can make a hole. Better yet, let’s all four of us bring him up – careful now, don’t fall on the stairs on the way up, take one stair at a time. We’ll get him on the roof so we can measure how big of a hole we need and, up they went! Once on the roof, they started to break through the grass and mud and materials that made the roof. They chipped away until the hole got big enough to lay the mat through.
Let’s pause here for a minute and go back in the house. There he was – Jesus on the main level of this house. Surrounded by the Pharisees and teachers of the law, these important people who ‘belonged’ here, being taught by Jesus, as well as many others who wanted to learn more and wanted healing. The place was packed, barely room to walk and everyone was engaged in what Jesus was sharing. Little did they know, they were about to be taught one of life’s greatest lessons. Imagine the next few minutes – ‘wait a minute – what is going on?” What is that banging coming from the roof? Is that dirt falling on my head? Did you feel that? What? More dirt falling? And as they look up to where the commotion is coming from, the sunlight shines through the roof and somehow these four manage to get their friend on a mat through this spot. I could almost imagine some of those inside the house freaking out and trying to ‘protect’ Jesus – how dare they interrupt our teaching!
And then the moment they were waiting for happens… Jesus doesn’t scold them for being so needy; he doesn’t even scold them for ‘interrupting his service.’ Instead, he sees the faith of the man who brought the paralytic to Jesus and forgives him. They were upset that Jesus thought he was God and could forgive their sins, lol, so he does one better and tells the paralyzed man to get up, take up his mat and go home. Before their eyes, he was healed! The party had just begun and the praises could be heard throughout the village – Yahoo!!! – What faith! What love!
As I reflect on this passage, I can’t help but ask myself some questions: Who would I be like in this story? ; Would I be one of the ones inside, wanting to hear from Jesus and annoyed with the distraction? (after all, we got here first!). Would I be the one seeing this man in need, knowing Jesus heals and trying to figure out a way to get his friend to Jesus? Would I be one of the scoffers and mockers who thinks the paralytic is less than I am (or in other words ‘I’m better than them – they’re just weak’) or on the flip side, “who am I to help?” (I’m less than and not good enough to help). Would I be one looking on, cheering in my heart for those men who were bold enough and had courage against all odds? Would I be willing to take a risk and go way out of my comfort zone – to the point of putting a hole in the roof? Would I have the heart of the Father that cared so much for my fellow man and seeking more his wholeness than to be worried about ‘fitting in’? If I am honest, I have probably rested at all of these places at one point in my walk or other. I am so thankful Jesus didn’t condemn them but loved them!
In the days ahead, how will you see or help people! Will we turn our backs when we see the wheelchair come down the street? When that child with a disability throws dirt on our teaching or distracts the service, will we get upset and scoot him/her away or will we be like Jesus and bring healing? Maybe it’s not even a physical thing but how about that friend battling depression or agoraphobia or…. (you fill in the blank) – will we be like the four, knowing if we could just get him to Jesus, healing would come? I hope you know today how much the Father loves you! Jesus is not moved by things around us – walk in His light today and bring hope and faith to those who are suffering – you got this!
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Matthew 25: 35-36 (NIV)