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Healing the Paralytic

I. OBSERVATION

A. Passage Selected: Mark 2:1-12

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....”

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).

This is the first mention of the Pharisees observing Jesus’ ministry in Luke. 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. “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.”7 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.

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.

Critics use this miracle to show conflicts in the Bible. Mark says “digging through.” Luke says “they removed tiles.” Matthew doesn’t say. 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.8
    b. The power of the Lord (5)

    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.

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

    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)

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

    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.)

    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)

    Which is easier to say?

    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.

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

    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.”9 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.

    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.


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

    8 Ryrie, The Miracles of our Lord, p. 47.

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

  • Related Topics: Miracles