The Paralytic (Mark 2)

Some notes and thoughts on the Lord’s healing of the paralytic in Mark 2.

1 And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house.  2 Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them.

♦ During this time in the Lord’s ministry His fame had gone out all over the region (Mk. 1:28). People “…came to Him from every direction” (Mk. 1:45). People from near and far sought Him because He had the power to HEAL.

♦ Here it says that so many came this particular day and gathered themselves to the Lord that there was no room. It was like a concert or show that was “sold out,” or that there was “standing room only.”

♦ When such a crowd is gathered to a famous person, a person who comes late will be left out, or on the outskirts. He will even go unnoticed. But what about the Lord? What does He do in such a case?

3 Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.

♦ The first thing to note here is that the paralytic COULD NOT come to the Lord in his own strength. He was paralyzed. He could not walk, let alone even move to transport himself to be before the Lord. But he was fortunate to have four dear friends who were determined to get him to the Lord, for they knew that the Lord had the power and compassion to heal him.

♦ There was the HUGE obstacle of many people. But these four found a way!

♦ I wonder how many of us have friends who care for us enough to bring us to the Lord in our sickness, sin, or sorrow—whatever obstacles there may be.  I wonder too if we have been a friend like this to others!  How many people in our day to day lives NEED the Lord!  Are we willing to take the time and energy to overcome whatever obstacles there are to get them before the Lord?

♦ Notice the Bible says they “broke through.” If they couldn’t get through the crowd, they would go over the crowd to get their friend to the Lord.

♦ Notice also the great patience and teamwork these four must have shown in lowering the man’s bed down through the roof. If they let down the rope too quickly, the poor man would have fallen off his bed! They worked together and were very careful in how they brought their paralyzed friend to the Lord.

5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

♦ It says, “When Jesus saw their faith…” The Lord recognized the faith of these four men. Faith is a “strong trust or confidence in something.” And how do I see what (or who) you are placing your confidence in? By your actions. “…I will show you my faith by my works” (Jam. 2:18). People cannot touch or see our “faith” except by our works.

♦ It is easy to SAY you believe in God, but the Bible says that even demons believe in God. The person who has true, sincere faith in God will not only profess faith in Christ, but show that faith in his works. These men showed the reality of their faith in Christ by their actions. In their minds they knew and believed that, “With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). They knew without question that the Lord could heal the paralytic if it was His will, and so they broke through.

♦ But then we see the Lord’s response. He acknowledges THEIR faith, but then turns to the paralytic and speaks to him: “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” We might expect the Lord to say, “You are paralyzed; I have the power to heal you and make you walk again.” But here there is a more urgent need: the forgiveness of sins. The Lord always sees man’s greater need! Man needs his sins to be dealt with before a holy God.

♦ Surely this is a lesson we still need to learn. We look at people (and ourselves) and the ailments each may have, and we determine in our minds what is the overriding “need” in each situation—being healed from sickness, recovering from an injury, finding a job, etc. Yet the Lord sees perfectly the greater “needs” each of us has. Perhaps He allows an extended sickness in my life to teach me more of Him, so that my faith grows. We would pray for immediate recovery for such a one, but the Lord is allowing the illness for my good. This ought to cause us to consider how we pray. For indeed, “…we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26). We need to trust the Lord more as we pray, for we really are “weak” in knowing what to pray for!

6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

♦ But imagine standing there and hearing the Lord say this. That a man would say, “Your sins are forgiven,” would surely cause a great stir. The religious scribes felt this way. It says “in their hearts” they thought the Lord was blaspheming. They did not say it out loud. But the Lord can read the heart of man—his reasonings, his doubt, his lack of faith. “The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile” (Ps. 94:11). And again, “…You understand my thought afar off” (Ps. 139:2). This surely is evidence of Christ being God in the flesh!

♦ Notice their thoughts:

1) They labeled the Lord a blasphemer, calling Him “this Man.”

2) They state a truth: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

♦ It is indeed true that GOD ALONE can forgive sins. As the Psalmist wrote, “But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared” (Ps. 130:4). But these men would not even consider the nature or claims of the One who stood before them. They had already determined in their minds that He was not of God and a blasphemer.

A BLASPHEMER is one who reviles or speaks evil about God or sacred things.

♦ How true this is of many today. Most have their own preconceived notion of who Jesus is, and are unwilling to consider the evidence given by God Himself in the Bible of Jesus’ true nature and person! The Bible presents Jesus as far more than a good man, an excellent teacher, a miraculous healer, or a prophet. But do we listen to God’s testimony about His Son, or do we stop our ears and cling tooth and nail to what WE think Jesus to be?

8 But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9 “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” –He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

♦ Notice the Lord perceives what they are thinking, and thus confronts them in their unbelief. He asks them why they were reasoning about these things. In Matthew’s account of the same story, the Lord says, “Why do you think EVIL in your hearts?” (Matt. 9:4). To call the Lord a blasphemer is EVIL, for it is utterly contrary to His true character.

♦ And so the Lord “reasons” with them. He asks them which is easier to say to the paralytic…that his sins are forgiven, or to take up his bed and walk. In my thinking both of these are “impossible” for someone to say to a paralyzed man.

♦ But now the climax comes. The Lord HEALS the man to show He has POWER on earth to forgive sins. Thus the healing has a purpose—yes, to relieve the man of suffering, but more, to show that Christ has authority to forgive men’s sins! He tells the man to get up, take his bed, and go home. And when the man does so, the Lord has just validated His claim that He has power to forgive sins! The Lord could not simply SAY the man’s sins were forgiven. How would we know if it were true or not? The miracle gives overwhelming evidence that the Lord’s claim is true!

♦ What a gracious God we have! He does not ask us blindly to place our faith in Him. He proclaims who He is and His power, but gives evidence to back up His claims!

12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

♦ All were amazed as they saw this, and thus we have another purpose in why the Lord performed the miracle: they glorified God. The Lord ever sought to bring glory to God, His Father, and this miracle is evidence of this. Matthew notes here that the multitudes “glorified God, who had given such power to men” (Matt. 9:8). Here Christ, a Jew, draws many (including Gentiles) to God.

Conclusion

♦ As we think on this story, I think we can see ourselves in the paralytic. For the Bible says, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). Man has no strength or power to walk, as it were, in the paths of righteousness. But the comfort of this verse is that when we were in this wretched state the Lord Jesus died for each one of us. Christ died at just the right time for us—the ungodly, those who do not walk in the ways of God, but walk down the “broad road” in our own self will.

♦ And like the Lord did with the paralytic, He will give strength and even life to those who trust in Him, that He came to die for your sins and mine.

♦ In fact the Bible will put it this way for those who have received Jesus Christ as their Savior through His death and resurrection from the dead: “…even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4), for indeed this is the position God has placed the believer: NEWNESS OF LIFE. When I put my faith in Christ, the Lord too says to me, “Your sins are forgiven. Arise and walk.” He gives me strength through His indwelling Spirit to walk in those paths of faith that are pleasing to God! It is “new,” for I have never walked in such paths before!

♦ And so the man who could not walk now walks. The man who laid all day on his bed now is up—risen, we might say. The man who was helpless and hopeless now is forgiven and given strength to walk. The man who was as good as dead is now enjoying newness of life. When you place your faith in Christ, He will bring about monumental, and we might even say miraculous, changes in your life for the better. O that we might trust Him more!

-d. wolfe

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