Once more the scene is Peter's house in Capernaum.
I'll bet you never saw anything like this before.
Ingenuity was not invented in America by the Yankees.


 

Again Jesus entered Capernaum and it was heard He was in the
house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no
longer room to receive them, not even near the door. He preached
the word to them.

Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic man who was carried
by four men. When they could not come near Him because of the
crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. When they had
broken
through, they let down the bed on which the man was
lying.

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic man, "Son,
your 
sins are forgiven you." Some of the scribes were sitting
there and 
reasoning in their hearts, "Why does this Man speak
blasphemies 
like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Jesus said to them, "Why do you reason about these things?
[{Matt. 9:4} Why do you think evil in your hearts?] Which is
easier, to
say to the paralytic man, 'Your sins are forgiven you,'
or to say, 'Arise,
take up your bed and walk'? But that you may
know that the Son of
Man has power on earth to forgive sins"--
He said to the paralytic
man, "I say to you, arise, take up your
bed, and go to your house."

Immediately, he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the
presence
of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God,
saying, "We
never saw anything like this!" 
                                                                 Mark 2:1-12 NKJV, condensed


 

                                        Heads Up!

Jesus came back to Capernaum, presumably with the four fishermen
who had followed him out of that town a short time before. It's
generally believed that Jesus stayed at Peter's house when in
Capernaum, so we place the story there. Peter's family was discovering
there were hazards when hosting Jesus. And it wasn't only the dust
being tracked in from all the people coming and going.

It didn't take long for the townspeople to fill Peter's house to
overflowing. Jesus preached that day. He often told stories, known
to us as parables. Or Jesus used common images, like a door, a flock
of sheep, or a woman's bowl of dough, in order to paint a picture
of the things he wanted us to know.

While all this was going on, somewhere in Capernaum there were
five friends in the process of devising a way to get one of them to
Jesus for healing. The one who needed healing was paralyzed and
could not walk. That would require some adaptations. Special-needs
people often require more time and effort, but these friends were
up to the challenge and soon they were ready to carry their man
to Jesus.

But when they got to Peter's house they realized they had arrived
too late. There was no way the five of them plus the cot could get
inside. The alternatives were to wait until Jesus came out of the
house, or find a way through. And that's where the ingenuity came
in. They would need to get four strong ropes, some tools, ladders,
and extra water. Then they rolled up their sleeves and got to work.--
on the roof! A cot required a large hole, right above where Jesus
was preaching. 

Removing a roof is noisy and incurs some falling debris, so people
knew they were coming. "Make way, someone is coming in from
above." Jesus watched the faith and inventiveness of these friends
and he liked what he saw. He also saw a man lying on a cot whose
deepest need was forgiveness.

Jesus spoke to him, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Jesus called him
"son", a word connoting affection, relationship, belonging, and
special concern. But then, "Your sins are forgiven." That startles us?
Are these welcome or unwelcome words? Beautiful or harsh? It
depends on how they are received. Here they are not spoken as
condemnation, but for healing. That word "son" adds grace to
truth. God's forgiveness means God restores and loves us still.
It also releases us from guilt and fear.

There was a brief period of time between "sins forgiven" and "rise
up and walk.' Time for muscles to be revived and healing to begin.
Time which diverted attention from the man on the mat to the
grumblers in the crowd.

Jesus responded to the thoughts of certain onlookers. The scribes,
those who studied the religious Law of Moses, were thinking, "That's
blasphemy." The critics knew Jesus did amazing miracles and
preached the kingdom of heaven like a prophet from God. But only
God can forgive sins. Moses didn't forgive sins. Neither did Elijah.
So how could Jesus stand there and tell someone their sins were
forgiven! 

Matthew's account includes a question Jesus had for the doubters:
"Why are you inclined to be critical? Why do you want to think evil
of me? You need to ponder these questions rather than my authority."
Jesus also said to them, "I could say, 'Get up and walk' or I could say,
'Your sins are forgiven.' Which is easier to understand?"

Jesus ended up saying them both. The paralyzed man was still lying
there, so Jesus spoke to him again, "Get up, take your mat and go
home." Immediately he stood up, collected his things and walked out.
The crowd was awed and they praised God. Some might have felt
uncomfortable, thinking "If he's going to talk about sin, I'll not be
coming for healing.--at least not in broad daylight."

The forgiven man was not condemned by Jesus. Those critics who
thought they needed no forgiveness, were condemned. It was just
another way Jesus was turning things up-side-down.


Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.

Icebreaker: Tell about a time when your friends helped you, and in a sense
                   carried you, through a difficult situation.

 

Did a friend ever bring you to Jesus? Did you ever bring a friend to Jesus?
            What are some ways we can do that for each other?


We need to be careful connecting sin with illness. This is the only recorded
healing miracle where Jesus spoke words of forgiveness. Although there
are individual choices which pose a health risk, it is not appropriate to
imply that another person's illness was caused by their sin.
            Do you agree with the preceding sentence?
            Why or when would it be true?   Or not true?
            Do you make any exceptions?


Jesus treated people on an individual basis. Each of the healing stories
is unique because each person is unique.
            Why, when Jesus was healing this man, would Jesus mention
                        the man's sins?
            Can you be in good health if your conscience convicts you of sin?


The Psalmist said, "Happy is the person whose sins are forgiven!"
            Do you know of any medical conditions which could be cured 
                        if the person knew God has forgiven them?
            Would people be sick less often if we forgave each other more?
                        If so, why would that be?

What does it mean to be paralyzed by fear?  By guilt?  By worry?
            Are there other kinds of paralysis other than physical paralysis?


Was there something wrong with people who were critical of Jesus?
            Is there anything you would criticize Jesus for?
            Or anything you think Jesus should have done differently?
            Where does criticism cross the line and become evil intent?


A critical attitude made some people in the crowd insensitive to their neighbors
who were being healed. It also made them unreceptive to the words of Jesus.
            How could the critics be "cured" from their suspicious, arrogant
            and hurtful attitudes?


What difference would it have made if Jesus did the preaching and teaching,
but did no miracles?
            Would he have still had an effective ministry without the miracles?

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