25 – Heals a Paralytic
Where: Capernaum, Galilee
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After having been absent for over a week, Jesus returned by boat to Capernaum from Magdala. The people of Capernaum came to the courtyard of Peter’s house, because that was where Jesus taught during the day. In the evening, when their work was done, people filled the house, the doorway, and even partly filled the courtyard outside trying to hear and see Jesus.
A paralyzed man and four of his friends, who had heard the stories about Jesus, believed that Jesus did have the power of God. ‘If I ask rabbi Jesus,’ the man said to his friends, ‘then maybe he would heal me also’. So in the evening the four friends carried the man to Peter’s house on a “blanket with two poles” [like a stretcher].
Though they were able to enter the courtyard, they could not get the man anywhere near the door, much less inside the house where Jesus was. After some time had passed, and no one was leaving, they were still not near the door and they grew desperate. They agreed on an aggressive plan that, because it was the dry season, should present no particular problem.
They worked their way up the outside stairway to the flat roof. They selected a spot and began to remove a section (they had agreed with each other to repair it the next day). They scraped off the clay, removed the twigs and branches, and were able to let the “sling” (the blanket without the poles) down between the roof “beams”. The whole process took less then five minutes and by the time they were letting the paralyzed man down, a space under the falling dust had been cleared in the room.
Already it was not uncommon for members of the “religious establishment” to be present when Jesus was teaching. They wanted to be sure that he was not misleading the people in the name of religion (as so many others had done). These officials listened to much of what Jesus said, and evaluated it through the filters of their own beliefs. More and more often when Jesus taught crowds of people, these “officials” were his “target audience”. It was the religious leaders that would have to choose to accept, or reject, Jesus as the “word of God”.
When the man was lowered in front of Jesus, he saw Jesus smile. He looked Jesus in the eyes and asked to be healed. Jesus was impressed by the faith, and determination, of the five. Knowing that those around him believed that health was God’s blessing for obedience, and that illness was God’s punishment for sin, and wanting them to exercise their faith, Jesus told the man that God had forgiven his sin.
That stunned everyone to silence. If Jesus had just said, “get up and go home”, that would have caused no problems. It would have been just another sign of the power of God. But Jesus wanted the religious leaders to really think about what he was doing. And in the stunned silence Jesus knew that the legalist had indeed heard him, and knew that they condemned him for his verbal claim to have the authority of God to forgive sins as Nathan, at God’s command, had done for King David.
Jesus then confronted them with their obvious thoughts, and for the benefit of the man and his friends, he told the man to pick up his blanket and leave. The man, trusting in this more conventional command, got up, and walked away.
When the people saw the man walking, they “knew” that God had forgiven him through the word of Jesus. They gave thanks to God. But the legalists were VERY disturbed and reported Jesus’ words and actions to their superiors.
No questions have been asked yet.