Jesus Heals a Paralytic
1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .” He said to the paralytic, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Faith and Action
this passage provides two wonderful insights for us – first, the nature of faith. for some reason, ialways envisioned a house with a hole already built into the ceiling (pretty obtuse house design). but no, the truth is that the friends carry the paralytic to the roof, dig a hole through that roof large enough for a person, and lower him through it! and you figure that this process must have taken at least 10 minutes, so Jesus and all the disciples are all watching this process go on above their heads! that’s a funny image to me…
but what’s striking is that it says that Jesus “saw their faith”. we tend to think of faith as a mental, invisible quantity, something that comes when know all the answers. but that’s not what Jesus saw – he sees their faith revealed in their action, as they chip away at the roof. our faith and our action are not separate, isolated things, but flow out of each other. if we really have faith in God’s sovereignty, power, provision, we will act in certain ways. if we do not really have faith in God, then we will act in a different way…what do your actions reveal about your faith?
and one more insight relates again to the identity of Christ. when Jesus tells the paralytic his sins are forgiven, the pharisees respond, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” believe it or not, they are theologically right on target – only God can forgive sins. but they fail to ask the next logical question: “if only God can forgive sins, and this man can forgive sins and heal like this…could he be God?”
a couple of applications we reap from this. first, sometimes we make up our minds so early and so totally that we stop seeing truth. the pharisees were so fixated on catching Jesus doing something wrong that they fail to see the logical truth right in front of their eyes, that Jesus can forgive sins because he is God. it is important to have an open and teachable heart, otherwise we will be unable to see amazing things right in front of our eyes. secondly, all the theology in the world means nothing if you don’t know Jesus. because the pharisees didn’t personally know Jesus, all their theology was meaningless, and even served as an impediment to recognizing Christ. never let the pursuit of theological answers become an end to itself – first, know Jesus, and then those answers will be far more intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally enriching for you!
1. what are you really sure about God, about his character or his action? how does this translate into action in your life? if it doesn’t, how can it?
2. has there ever been a time where you felt pretty sure in what you knew about God, and yet, felt very far from him personally? what do you think caused the disconnection between what you knew about Him, and how you felt towards Him?
3. do you have a hard heart towards something right now? a person, a group, an organization? has it stopped you from seeing something that God wanted you to see?