Jesus was teaching and healing in the city of Capernaum, near the Sea of Galilee. He stopped in Capernaum frequently and did many miracles there but very few people believed in him. The paralyzed man and his friends were the exception.
Mark tells us five times that the man was paralyzed. We aren’t told how it happened, just that he was crippled and dependent on the charity of others for every need. Throughout history the church has helped the outcasts, the downtrodden, the sick, and the poor and here we see Christian charity at work. The man’s condition was pathetic and his physical paralysis is a picture of our spiritual brokenness. We can’t help ourselves and like this man was dependent on his friends, we are dependent on God for our every need!
Not all physical sickness or infirmity is the result of personal sin. John nine tells us that the man born blind was born that way to bring God glory and not because he or his parents had sinned. Now some sickness is the result of sin, such as STD’s. God tells us in Romans chapter one that that sickness is consequences of and punishment for sin.
Fortunately for the paralytic, he had several sympathetic friends. They were concerned for him and wanted to get him help. They took him to Jesus who was teaching in a house and surrounded by a large crowd. In today’s world, it is not hard to draw a big crowd—just entertain people! But the church can’t compete with the world and that shouldn’t be the goal of the church. If we faithfully teach the truth, as Jesus did, people will be drawn to our churches, but it won’t always be a huge crowd.
The paralytic’s friends knew that Jesus could heal and so, acting in faith, they tore through the flat, Middle Eastern roof in order to bring their friend to Jesus! Jesus acted on behalf of the crippled man not because of that man’s faith but because of the faith of the friends! Their faith was clearly seen through their actions and that faith overcame the obstacles that stood in their way. We also must overcome the obstacles in order to bring the Gospel to people or to bring people to the Gospel. Very few people come to Jesus without someone bringing them and that’s our responsibility.
First, Jesus healed the man spiritually—he forgave the man’s sins. The scribes who were in the crowd accused Jesus of blasphemy since only God can forgive sins. It’s easy to say, “Your sins are forgiven” but harder to prove because you cannot see the heart. But to prove that He was God and that He was truly forgiving sins, Jesus also healed the man physically. The paralyzed man stood up right away and began walking when Jesus commanded him to and no one could argue whether he had been healed—it was obvious! They also couldn’t argue that Jesus was God because he proved it with his miracles.
The personal testimony of the paralyzed man—his walking around—was a source of public amazement and showed everyone who saw him that Jesus was indeed the Savior!