Miracle 7:
          Healing the Paralytic
               

I. OBSERVATION

A.       Passage Selected: Mark 2:1-12

“And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. 2And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. 3And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. 4And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. 6But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? 9Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) 11I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. 12And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.”

 

It’s the longest.  Also found in Matt 9:2-8 and Luke 5:17-26

B. Progression Stated: Logical

Jesus uses a question of logic as part of the miracle. "Which is easier to say...."

When dealing with people remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.

   -- Dale Carnegie

C. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context of the miracle  2:1-3

a. Back in Capernaum

He called Capernaum home because his hometown rejected him. 

b. Mixed crowd of followers and foes including Pharisees (cf. Luke).

1.       This is the first mention of the Pharisees observing Jesus’ ministry in Luke. 

2.       Mark will mention them in the next section following this miracle. Matthew will also mention them in 9:9-13 just after his record of this miracle. 

3.       “The Pharisees were a nonpriestly or lay separatist movement whose goal was to keep the nation faithful to Mosaic faith. In order to do this, they had a very developed tradition that gave rulings on how the law applied to a variety of possible situations not addressed directly by Scripture.”[1]

4.       They had rules for every possible situation and Jesus kept violating those rules.  That is why there was so much conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees.

5.       The point of the Pharisees showing up is that word of Jesus’ ministry had spread to the point where the Pharisees are curious and are showing up to check Him out.

c. Knowledge of Mid Eastern house is important. 

1.       Critics use this miracle to show conflicts in the Bible.  Mark says “digging through.”  Luke says “they removed tiles.”  Matthew doesn’t say. 

2.       Is there a conflict? Some say the reason for the difference is that Luke could have used a Gentile word to describe the scene to a Gentile audience.  It’s like if I said, "They pulled the shingles off ..." This is possible, but not necessary. The way houses were built was with wood for truss support, then a layer of reeds on top of the trusses and clay on top of the reeds.  The word keravmwn (keravmwn) translated “tiles” in Luke also means “clay” and Luke is probably just using a word that describes the material and its function at the same time.

2. Content of the miracle  2:4-5

a. The persistence of the men (4)

“When Jesus saw their faith” Their faith is demonstrated by their creativity, boldness and persistence to open the roof. They allowed nothing to stop them.

Ryrie points out several things about Faith from this passage:

·          Faith works - The men expended great effort to help their friend.

·          Faith persists - They didn’t let personal inconvenience stop them.

·          Faith succeeds - Their faith was rewarded.  The man was healed.[2]

·          Acts 11: 21 “And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. 22Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. 23Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.”

·          Sam Jones once used this illustration: "I go to chop wood and you find me with my ax across my knees and not a chip in sight.  You ask, 'Why are you not chopping wood?'  I answer, 'I'm waiting until I work up a sweat first; then I'll chop wood.'  The best way to work up a sweat is to chop wood."  Faith will not get the job done.  It must be followed by works.

b. The power of the Lord  (5)

1.                   Luke mentions that Jesus was filled with the power to heal.  Why is Luke telling us that?  Luke is stressing that Jesus is a God empowered man.  He is filled and led by the HS.

2.                   “And 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. 20And when he saw their faith, 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.”

3.                    He says, “your sins are forgiven.”  He simply makes a statement.  The authority and power of Jesus’ word is demonstrated.

4.                   I don’t think this necessarily means that the man’s paralysis resulted from personal sin. I think it is just that Jesus recognized that the man’s greatest need was spiritual and not physical. And, He wanted to shake up the categories of the Pharisees who were present.

3. Consequence of the miracle  2:6-12

a. The opposition (6-7)

1.                   Jesus says “your sins are forgiven.” This blows the categories off the Pharisees.  Only God can forgive sins.  They think this is blasphemy. 

2.                   You could commit blasphemy by:

·          denying one of the attributes of God.

·          adding attributes God does not possess (he’s fickle).

·          making yourself on par with God. (This is what Jesus is claiming.)

3.                   Jesus knew what they were thinking.  We think “of course he knew,” but what about them.  Were they also asking themselves, “How does he know what I’m thinking?”  Who knows the heart?  God knows the heart.  Forget the miracle for a minute...He knows what I’m thinking!  Even while the miracle is taking place there are other things happening that give proof that Jesus is God.

 

b. The  proposition (8-10)

1.       Which is easier to say? 

2.       Some try to argue that it is easier to say one or the other based on the number of words in each sentence.  That is unlikely.   More likely is the logical or theological argument behind each statement. What do you think is easier to say?

·          To SAY, “your sins are forgiven” is easier because no one can tell if it happened or not.  You can’t validate it. This could be applied to all the false religions which claim that their way is the right way to God. They claim that their system will get you to heaven, and their followers won’t know until it is too late.

·          Therefore, he then heals the man, which is the visible task, to prove that he can forgive sins too.

3.       Jesus calls Himself the "Son of Man" which is His favorite name for Himself.  Perhaps because it stresses His humanity. Perhaps it is because the term is vague enough that it forces people to make up their minds about Him. 

4.       Is he “a man” or “the Man?”  This also fits with the Messianic secret idea that we discussed in the last miracle.  Jesus doesn’t want to claim too clearly that He is the Messiah, because He wasn’t the political Messiah that they were looking for. 

5.       If you were looking for a spiritual Messiah, then you would recognize that He was that. 

6.       Here he is saying I’m a human who has the divine authority to forgive sins.  Later He will claim to be the Son of Man who is Lord of the Sabbath.  This title becomes a title of the Messianic combination of God in the flesh.

c. The healing itself (11-12)

The healing is visible to all and they were amazed. But again, I must point out that amazement doesn’t equal belief.

II. INTERPRETATION

·          This is a turning point in Jesus’ ministry.  Up to this point, the healings were merely physical.  Now we see that the physical healings really point to a deeper spiritual reality which is the ultimate healing - the forgiveness of sins. The last miracle, the cleansing of the leper, pointed to this because leprosy was the model disease for the problem of sin.  But here we have the forgiveness idea directly stated.

·          There is an emphasis in the miracle on the fact that Jesus is both God and man.  The phrase “Son of Man” and the mention of Jesus being filled with the Spirit emphasize His humanity.  The fact that He forgives the man’s sins emphasizes His deity.

·          The miracle is a means to an end - not the end itself.  It teaches us something about the person of Christ.  He can forgive our sins.

III. APPLICATIONS

·          This miracle teaches us of the privilege of intercession. The friends interceded on the man’s behalf.  They were instruments of healing.

·          We see the importance of unity and teamwork.  One or two friends could not have accomplished this on their own. “It is costly, however, to have Christian unity.  In order for the four men in Mark 2 to get together to bring this paralytic to Jesus, they had to consent to go in the same direction.  Otherwise they would not have succeeded.  Then they had to consent to go at the same speed, and to the same place.  Unity is costly for it means submitting to each other.”[3] Perhaps that is the significance of the the statement “When Jesus saw their faith…”

·          We see creativity in serving others and in bringing others to Christ.

·          Jesus handled the interruption without complaining.  How do we handle interruptions?

·          Jesus can forgive our sins without healing us. In the last miracle we saw that the leper recognized that it is not always God’s will that we be healed.  Here we see that spiritual healing is separate from physical healing. Although we have said this before, in light of the teaching of some that God always wants to heal, I think it needs to be said again.

·          Just to see a miracle doesn’t mean you believe in the one who can do miracles. Verse 12 says they were all amazed...but they didn’t believe.

·          Sometimes God acts in a person’s life because of another’s faith.  It might be the faith of a grandmother or a neighbor who prays that causes God to work in a person to bring them to Christ.

 

Closing : The miracle is designed to teach us something about the person of Christ.  He makes an overt claim that He is God and confirms His message through an activity.  In other words, the message is authenticated by the miracle.  So that you know that what I’m saying is true (your sins are forgiven, (I.e. I’m God), I will perform a miracle.

 

Mark 16:19 “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.



[1] Darrell Bock, Luke 1:1-9:50, p. 478-79.

[2] Ryrie, The Miracles of our Lord, p. 47.

[3] Raymond C. Ortlund, “Sharing God’s Concern for the World,” Bibliotheca Sacra, Oct-Dec 1981, p. 293