We are back in Capernaum with Jesus and His disciples. Jesus heals a paralyzed man during this visit. In Mark 2:3-12 and Luke 5:18-26 we are told a bit more about this story. Through these accounts we see that Jesus had entered into a house and was teaching at the time. It may have been Peter’s house that He came back to, or another citizen of this town who wanted to open their home for Jesus that day. Whom ever owned the home, they were about to have some renovations done.
Matthew doesn’t share with us about the man being let down through the roof, but we get that detail from Mark and Luke. In all three accounts we see that Jesus is able to see their faith in action. These men were determined to get their ailing friend to Jesus. They were deeply committed to seeing their friend made well and they knew Jesus could heal him if they could just get him to Him.
How far had they carried their friend? How long had he been paralyzed? How did he become paralyzed in the first place? Was his condition due to illness or an accident? Whatever the reason for the man’s predicament his friends loved him. The lengths they went to for him prove that fact clearly. They were not willing to wait to see if Jesus happened to pass by them where they could casually approach Him for help. They didn’t display the faith of the centurion who was willing to settle for a long distance healing. They wanted their friend to have a personal face to face encounter with Jesus. And they were going to make it happen!
I’m assuming the roofs in that area were substantial enough that it took some time and effort to get a hole large enough to let the man down through. I’m also assuming that they were probably making some noise in the process. Did anyone get up and check out the source of the noise? Were there so many people in the house that the noise inside the house overwhelmed the noise being made by the friends? I’m further assuming that once the initial hole was made, the lighting in the house would have changed. So when the light started shining through the roof above Jesus, is that when Jesus noticed them or was it when they actually got the man on the floor in front of Him?
“When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.’” (verse 2). Was Jesus’ statement to the man made as he was being lowered down through the hole? There is some that passes between when Jesus first spoke to the man and when the man actually got up from his bed.
In this time interval Jesus deals with the religious leaders who are part of the crowd that day. He tells them straight up that they are the reason for His choice of words. He was demonstrating another aspect of His authority to everyone there that day. Because of Jesus’ choice of words, I assuming that those assembled knew the man who just appeared in their midst, and considered his ailment to be the result of sin in his life. He probably believed that himself. He needed to hear he was forgiven as much as he needed physical healing. He got both that day.
The man was listening to every word Jesus was saying that day concerning his healing, but he waited until directly instructed by Jesus to act. He didn’t jump up when Jesus said his sins were forgiven. He kept quiet while Jesus addressed the religious leaders. He waited patiently until Jesus, once again, focused His complete attention on his needs. Was he confused by Jesus statement in the beginning? Did he receive his healing at Jesus’ first words to him? Did Jesus make this a two part healing, like He did in other places?
When told directly what to do by Jesus the man complied to the letter. Jesus gave him three instructions: 1) Rise; 2) Take up your bed; and 3) Go home. I’m willing to bet he went straight home, without stopping to show others what had happened. I wonder how he got out of the house that day. It was so crowded that they had to go through the roof to get him in, now he has to navigate this crowd to get out. Matthew says, “the crowd was afraid and glorified God Who had given such authority to men” (verse 8). Did they part like the waters of the Red Sea as the man left the room? Or did they want to talk to him or touch him as he exited the house?
What became of the man after this personal encounter with Jesus? Why didn’t Jesus have the man join the crowd for the rest of His teaching? Would the man’s presence have been too great of a distraction for the people to listen to Jesus? His life had been changed in an instant, physically and spiritually. How did that change manifest itself? Did he decide to follow Jesus after he dropped his bed off at home? Did he start sharing his testimony with anyone who would listen? Did he return to his previous job and activities? Did he do anything to thank his friends for insisting he meet Jesus? Who was the one who suggested this “road trip” in the first place?
I wonder what became of his friends during all the commotion. Did they drop down into the house after they let him down? Did they leave with him by the door? Did they join him after he got back outside? Did any of them stick around to hear the rest of Jesus’ teaching? What was Jesus teaching about that day in the first place? I wonder if it was a message on forgiveness.
Father God, thank You for sending Jesus to make a way for our sins to be forgiven permanently. The law just hid them. Jesus washed them away. How many times had this man’s sins been covered over by the blood of animal sacrifices without resulting in healing through removal of the root sin resulting in his condition? You didn’t patch his problem. You resolved it. Thank You for doing this in my life too. Thank You for the assurance that when I bring my sins to You that You remove them even from Your memory. I often wish I could remove them from my memory too but wonder what would happen to the growth I experienced as a result of recognizing my mistakes.
To be free of the guilt but retain the growth would be ideal. I recognize that as Your perfect will for me. Is that what You actually do when You forgive me of my sins? Do You retain the experiential memory but blot out the penalty for it? The biggest penalty being a broken relationship with You. Thank You for willingly repairing what I have so often broken. Thank You for Your grace that no longer requires physical punishment for my sins like the man in our story had to suffer. I realize my own actions will often result in physical consequences, such as stepping in front of a car and suffering a head injury, but these are not judgements for my sins. You forgave my sin and pardoned me from the justice I so fully deserved. You showed, and continue to show, me mercy. THAT is the greatest gift the man from our story received in his encounter with Jesus. Thank You that You continue to offer that same mercy to me every day.