The Healing of the Paralytic in Capernaum

The Healing of the Paralytic in Capernaum

The Healing of the Paralytic in Capernaum.

Please Read Mark 2:1-12.

  1. Capernaum. This flourishing city on the Sea of Galilee was Jesus’ adopted hometown. Because of its thriving businesses, especially in fishing and many different trades, it was densely populated and wealthy. Several major highways intersected in Capernaum, which brought people from as far away as Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Roman military presence was strong in Capernaum, since a Roman garrison was there to keep the peace in that region. Capernaum was an interesting place for Jesus to select as His ministry headquarters, because the town was a cultural melting pot loaded with Greek, Roman, and international influences. Jesus was well known in Capernaum and that region at that time, because He had just been touring the Galilee area, preaching, healing, and casting out demons. It was no surprise that wherever Jesus went, there was a large crowd surrounding Him. Capernaum was a cosmopolitan city, the opposite of a primitive village stuck out in the sticks somewhere. Why did Jesus place Himself smack dab in the middle of Capernaum?
  2. Preaching. Whenever Jesus was with other people, he preached. The Gospels evidently use the terms preaching and teaching interchangeably, since the parallel passage in Luke 5 has Him teaching here. Jesus loved to expound God’s word wherever He was… in the synagogue, on a hilltop, on a plain, in a boat, and in a home. Remember that the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament, was Jesus’ Scripture, the Word He expounded. Some churches forget there is even an Old Testament to expound. That’s a mistake. Jesus taught the Jewish Bible. How can a church claim to be Christ-centered and not teach Christ’s Bible?  The OT is the tap root of the New Testament, and we cut off this root at our peril. Do you get enough solid teaching from the Old Testament? Jesus taught all the time. Do you ever wonder what His voice sounded like? Was it distinctive in any way? So here we are in Capernaum, with Jesus, preaching the Word, in a local house, and the place is packed.
  3. True Friends. The house was so packed that the main room and even the courtyard outside the doorway was filled with people. There was no room for anyone to move, no less four friends lugging a paralyzed friend on a stretcher. So, the friends, not to be denied, carried the paralyzed man up the exterior stairway to the roof, made a hole in the roof big enough to fit the stretcher, and lowered the man down to Jesus’ feet. It would be impossible to miss the man on the stretcher right in front of His face. These friends wanted nothing more than for Jesus to heal their friend. If each friend held onto a rope tied to each corner of the stretcher, they had to coordinate between themselves so as to lower the man safely to the floor below. This was work, but they were not daunted. What friends! And what faith in Jesus! What qualities did these men have in order to pull this off? They were resourceful, unembarrassed, determined, faithful, compassionate, courageous, unapologetic. Any other qualities not mentioned above? Sometimes that is what it takes to literally bear someone’s burden. Paul states that there is no greater commandment, no greater act of love, than to bear the burdens of another. (Gal. 6:2) Burden-bearing “fulfills the law of Christ.” This scene is a clear picture of what that can look like. These friends decided to bear the burden of their friend, literally, and bring him to Jesus for healing. What a meaningful picture of intercession, where we in faith bring someone we love to Christ to have their needs met. What are other ways we can bear another’s burden? Isn’t this a sweet picture of our Lord, who “daily bears our burdens?” (Ps. 68:19). In what ways has God carried your burdens lately?
  4. Substitute Faith. Jesus sees the faith of these friends, and He counts it to the credit of the paralyzed man, who was not willing or able to speak for himself. The friends were standing in for their friend, they were substituting their faith for the apparent lack of faith in their friend on the stretcher, and Jesus seemed to say… “I see your faith, my friends, and I’ll count it as his faith.” Faith by proxy? Can Jesus do that? “Seeing their faith,” Jesus announced forgiveness of sins to the paralyzed man. There is a mystery here. Does God accept someone’s Christian faith as a substitute for another person’s lack of faith?  Does God’s mercy run this deep? Is this similar to infant baptism, when faithful parents stand in for their baby?
  5. Forgiveness. Jesus evidently had certain priorities in mind with this paralyzed man. Physical healing was secondary. Spiritual healing comes first. Jesus felt compelled to heal this man’s paralysis of the soul before the paralysis of the body. Jesus has the power to heal both body and soul, and the soul comes first. In this scene’s parallel version in Matthew 9:2, Jesus said something interesting to the man on the stretcher… “Be encouraged! Cheer up! Your sins are forgiven!” So perhaps there was an urgency in Jesus’ mind to tend to the spiritual, maybe this paralyzed man had lived long enough in discouragement, with a conscience burdened by sin, guilt and shame. Perhaps Jesus wanted to release this man and forgive him now, pronto! Have you placed yourself at Jesus’ feet and experienced the spiritual healing of forgiveness?
  6. Religious Police. Mixed into the crowd around Jesus were a few professional skeptics, the Jewish legal authorities. They were not righteously curious as so many others were. They were there to sit in judgment, to criticize, to entrap Jesus in some breaking of the Law. After Jesus pronounced forgiveness to the paralyzed man, these skeptics were questioning in their own minds what happened. They were thinking, “What? Wait! Only God can forgive sins! This man Jesus is claiming to be equal to God! This is blasphemy, and the penalty is death! We got him.” Jesus read their minds, because He knew their hearts. He cornered them and asked them, “Why are you wondering about this? It’s easy for me to speak forgiveness, because you can’t prove these words one way or another. That wasn’t that hard for me to say. But to back up my claim to be God’s right hand man, I will here and now heal this paralyzed man!” And so He did.
  7. Son of Man. Jesus refers to Himself here as Son of Man, the first time he did so. It’s a phrase that refers to the “fully human” part of Jesus. It was His favorite way to identify Himself, because Jesus so closely identifies Himself with mankind, with humanity’s deepest needs and vulnerabilities. Jesus also wants to confirm the dignity of being human, made in God’s image, yet still in need of salvation. There also is a prophetic word in Daniel 7:13 that all good Jews knew about, that the Son of Man is the one to whom God is going to entrust His judgment and kingdom. When Jesus claims to be the Son of Man, it’s quite a mouthful.
  8. Healing. Jesus simply told the man to stand up, pick up his stretcher, and walk home. Immediately, the paralysis was reversed, he was healed, he pranced his way through the crowd, and he went home, singing God’s praises all the way. I’d bet his four friends had a hard time keeping up with him. How should he show his gratitude to his friends? to Jesus?
  9. The People. The witnesses to these events were stunned, they were amazed at what they just saw. They were understandably filled with wonder and fear and awe. They told each other that they have never seen anything like this before, ever! And they began to praise God.
  10. The Big Question. What did we learn about Jesus in this story?