This passage contains two questions addressed to the Pharisees when the paralyzed man was lowered through his roof. Jesus challenges them, asking whether they serve a Lord who forgives and delights in forgiveness or one who withholds forgiveness?
2:1And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. – Mark 2:1-4
- Jesus’ ministry is causing both excitement and controversy. What excited the people of Galilee provoked controversy in Jerusalem.
- Capernaum is Jesus’ home base.
- The paralytic is also from Capernaum.
- 1st Century Capernaum was not an easy place in which to maneuver if you are disabled. The roads were not paved smoothly, stairs and vertical rises made it difficult to get around. You’d have to rely on your friends to help you travel there if you’re not ambulatory.
Why was the paralyzed man’s condition so urgent that they had to create a hole in the roof?
- Jesus was at home. There’s no indication he’s leaving soon.
- The man and his friends are also at home.
- Being paralyzed is a not going to change in the near future.
- Why tear up the house of a man from whom you need a favor?
- The paralyzed man must had a spiritual crisis of faith — which is how Jesus responds to him (Mark 2:5).
5And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7“Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” – Mark 2:5-12
- “Why are you thinking these things?” equals “What kind of God do you serve?” One who forgives and delights in forgiveness? Or one who withholds forgiveness?
- The religious teachers had already concluded that God does not forgive easily: Even when God does forgive it must be in Jerusalem and not in Capernaum. Forgiveness must be given in a temple, not a home. Forgiveness must be given by a priest, not a carpenter. And, forgiveness must be based on a sacrifice, not a mere word.
- “What’s easiest to say” equals “Does Jesus have authority to forgive?”
- If Jesus can do the more difficult, external, visible healing, isn’t it likely that Jesus can also do the invisible forgiveness?
- The miracle validates both Jesus’ authority and identity.
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