17And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.
18And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.19And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.20 And when he saw theirfaith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.21And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?22But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?23Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?24But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.25And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.26And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.
V17: We see that Jesus continued to teach the people as was his custom when he came into any village or town. Here in Capernaum we see Jesus continuing that pattern. Jesus fame had spread far and wide, so that the religious authorities of the day – Pharisees (who numbered about 6,000 at this time according to the writings of Josephus, the Jewish Historian) and the scribes (doctors of the Law who knew each of the 613 Jewish laws) were in attendance! They came from every village of Galilee, and Judea and from as far away as Jerusalem – to listen to the new Rabbi sensation… not to believe but to question and try to ensnare him as we shall see in today’s study!
If only we understood the significance of teaching God’s word and how we could win over all of humanity within a few years – just by discipling and teaching one new believer each year. Click here to read an interesting article by Bro. Chris Adsit that can serve as an eye opener.
Notice also that the power of the Lord was present to heal that day. This means that there is a possibility that the power could be absent as well… it is like our smartphones – smart only when there is enough charge; and for charge it needs to be plugged in to the power source each day. For the believer the power source is his time of solitude where he is in touch with the Lord through prayer. There is no doubt that Jesus’ time with his Father was the source of his supernatural power.
V18: Four men carried a paralyzed man on a mat placed in a stretcher and desired to bring the man to Jesus that day, as he taught in Capernaum. However due to the excessive crowds, they could not get to Him. They then managed to climb the outside stairs to the roof and from there they lowered the man before Jesus through an opening they made in the roof. Some interesting points to note here:
Although Luke record this as though a simple act of removing some tiles from the roof and letting down the paralytic on a mat, in reality the word he used is “Keramos” in the Greek from which we get our modern-day equivalent – Ceramic. This word meant something entirely different in Luke’s day – it meant a house which had (like most other houses of that period in Palestine) a roof made of a mixture of clay and hay that when dried formed the roof.
As the men clawed away the dried clay to make an opening that day, some of the dirt would have fallen on the heads of the men below (many of whom had blocked the way preventing this paralytic from getting to Jesus).
Church tradition maintains that this man became ill and paralyzed with a sexually transmitted disease of some kind. This we understand the reason for his state.
V20: We read here that Jesus was moved by “their” faith. Indeed, the four men displayed a kind of faith that was extremely rare, even in Jesus day – when they refusing to take no for an answer, dug through someone’s roof to get to Jesus.
It is this kind of Faith that Jesus loved to see. Are we able to trust and put our complete faith in the Lord?
In v20 we also see Jesus responding to their faith by not healing the man but first proclaiming that his sins were forgiven! Sounds strange – the four men and the paralytic came hoping for a healing miracle, but Jesus addressed the real need – the need for the man to be set free of the consequences of his past disobedience/ uncleanness/ sins.
V21: The Pharisees and Scribes start grumbling in their minds and finding fault with Jesus – seemingly a man like themselves, proclaiming forgiveness of sins, which only God could.
In v22, Jesus responds to their thoughts by asking them a question – if they needed to see a sign that Jesus had the power to forgive sins. He then commands the man to rise, pick up his bed/ mat and go home. Immediately the man is healed and he rises up and is able to pick up the same bed that he had laid on all those years wondering if he will ever get a second chance at life!
There were 2 kinds of people present that day – people who were questioning Jesus in their minds and a group of at least 5 who were believing Jesus in their hearts.
Jesus knowing that the so called spiritual elite were there to find fault with him, still chose to respond to the faith, and the same is true today – the Lord is looking for a people who will go all-out to worship him and to out their faith in him – like a child would.
Sin makes us lame, and powerless but when we run to the Lord, He will not despise us or cast us away. In this acceptable season, all who run to Him will find forgiveness, new beginnings and joy that this world simply cannot give.
In this section of scripture, we see that we can either be on the mat in life, or in the way preventing people from coming to Christ or like the four friends of the paralytic people who bring others to Christ. Which one are you today and which one of these do you want to become?
Whatever your circumstances today, the mat also figuratively shows our circumstances and the limits of our existence as a result of many things. Jesus came to give us life and life abundantly. If you will let go of the double-mindedness and invest yourself fully in believing Jesus, you will be blessed and you will find that the mat that bore you all these days and limited your existence, becomes something you can walk over, roll up and carry away with you. The mat becomes a symbol of your qualification to talk to others about what Christ Jesus did in your life.
May the Lord help give you the strength to choose to put your faith fully in him and may you like the paralytic arise, roll up your bed which crippled you all these days and not be afraid to tell others of what Jesus did for you! In Jesus name… Amen!