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Weekly Devotion - Jesus Heals the Paralytic

Posted by Loren Sommer on

The Chosen - Lenten Series

Jesus Heals the Paralytic

by Loren Sommer

Last week’s devotion discussed the miracle where Jesus heals the man with leprosy.  After healing him Jesus had told him “See to it that you say nothing to anyone but go show yourself to the priest…” But the man went out and told everyone so that Jesus couldn’t go into a town freely anymore, but had to stay out in the “desolate places” where people came to him for healing and to hear him preach. Nevertheless after a few days Jesus tries to sneak back into Capernaum, where, as written in Mark 1, he had just cast a demon out of a man in the synagogue, healed Peter’s mother-in-law, and then later in the evening healed many and cast out demons at the door of Peter’s house. Jesus now was a huge celebrity. Mark 2: 1-12 says

 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 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. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

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? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 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!”

There is so much going on in this scripture!  Jesus ministry is up and running full throttle.  In this passage Jesus twice (and maybe three times) declares he is God. Did you catch them? Let’s put ourselves in the house. The place is packed, so much so that you couldn’t even get close to the door. The people were so eager to hear Jesus preach as related in Mark 1 because he spoke as “one who had authority”. The town of Capernaum had maybe 1500 people at the time, about half the population of Cle Elum, WA. I’m thinking most of the people could have known the paralyzed man, but even if they didn’t, look at the circumstances. The four faithful friends of the paralyzed man who were carrying him certainly must have tried to excuse their way into the house, which would have created quite of a stir. In desperation they accessed the roof and started digging a hole in it.  In those days the roof was probably made of some beams, then possibly some branches and mud. Luke relates that there were some “tiles” as well but in any case there would have been quite a commotion and some debris falling into the house in order to make a hole large enough to lower a man on a stretcher.  My point is that by now everybody inside and outside the house is noticing the event taking place, and that even if they didn’t know the man they could see that he couldn’t walk.  Certainly by now Jesus had stopped preaching and the attention of all was on the scene. Jesus sees their faith in their level of effort and determination as they make a hole in the roof and lower the man before him. The anticipation must have been thick!  Will Jesus heal him?  How will he do it?  Then Jesus speaks.  “Son, your sins are forgiven”.  What an odd statement!  Why would he say that? Now everyone can feel the tension in the air between Jesus and the teachers of the law.  And why would he call him “son” when Jesus was about 30 years old and scripture says the person was a “man”?   They must be fairly similar in age?  The friends on the roof must have been thinking “Thank you, but we were hoping you could make him walk!”  There is nothing stated in scripture that states this man’s paralysis was a result of a specific sin.  But Jesus gives the man what he truly needs, what we all need-forgiveness.  Mark relates that there were some teachers of the law inside the house who correctly realized that only God can forgive sin.  (Note that we are to forgive someone who sins against us, but that every sin is also a sin against God who alone can forgive the penalty of sin for us through the redemptive work of Jesus.  We’ll have to save that topic for another day.)  Knowing what the scribes were thinking, Jesus then asks the million dollar question: “Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?” But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”  This is another one of Jesus’ brilliant set-ups.  There may have been more ink used writing Bible commentaries on this scene in scripture than any other!  To this day no one has really figured out which is easier, but I dare say that this unanswerable question is just the point.  Think how late into the night the Jewish teachers must have argued over this one!  The only conclusion is the one they would refuse to acknowledge-that if only God can forgive sins, Jesus must be God.  They knew no man could perform the miracles Jesus was doing.  And to prove it he performs another one that no one could deny.  The man walks out of a packed house past everyone, then the people outside watch as the man they saw being lowered through the roof walks out the front door!  Awesome!  Praise God!  And that’s just what they did.

Did you catch the other one and possible two instances where Jesus also states he is God?  He calls himself the “Son of Man”, a term he used for himself over 70 times in scripture.  This refers to Daniel 7:13-14 where it says “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”  Jesus is saying he is the God the Messiah.  Then also note how Jesus uses the term “Son” to the paralyzed man before he heals him. Since they may have been similar in age, I think this could be another reference to his divinity, in the form of the Father.  (Jesus later refers to himself as “I am” which really ticked off the Jewish rulers, but that is for another day.)

I love how the scriptures open up to see his glory.  I am forever humbled and grateful that he has chosen me, and I am sure you are too.  The forgiveness he bought for us on the cross is more than I can comprehend, as is his love for us.  The beauty of the Gospel is so amazing that it must be shared!  That leads us to the obvious question:  “Who can we bring before Jesus to be forgiven?”  How can we bring someone before Jesus?  For sure we can start by bringing them before the Lord in prayer.  We can verbally bring them before the Lord by telling them how much Jesus has done for us.  We can physically bring them to a church or Bible study.  (Join us Sunday mornings at 9:45 in room 218 as we unpack Romans.  No experience required-all are welcome!) The beauty of bringing others before the Lord is that we don’t necessarily have to do it alone.  We could grab three friends to help us!  (And maybe some rope!)

Lord, thank you for forgiving our sins and healing us in so many ways.  Please give us love for others that we will want to share your Gospel, the good news, with them.  Amen

See you tonight at the Lenten service!  We will see a beautiful video of this story.