Several days later Jesus returned to Capernaum, and the news of his arrival spread quickly through the town.
Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there wasn't room for one more person, not even outside the door. And he preached the word to them.
Four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat.
They couldn't get to Jesus through the crowd, so they dug through the clay roof above his head. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus.
Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "My son, your sins are forgiven."
But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there said to themselves,
"What? This is blasphemy! Who but God can forgive sins!"
Jesus knew what they were discussing among themselves, so he said to them, "Why do you think this is blasphemy?
Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man, 'Your sins are forgiven' or 'Get up, pick up your mat, and walk'?
I will prove that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on earth to forgive sins." Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said,
"Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed!"
The man jumped up, took the mat, and pushed his way through the stunned onlookers. Then they all praised God. "We've never seen anything like this before!" they exclaimed.
Then Jesus went out to the lakeshore again and taught the crowds that gathered around him.
As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax-collection booth. "Come, be my disciple," Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him.
That night Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. (There were many people of this kind among the crowds that followed Jesus.)
But when some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with people like that, they said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with such scum?"
When Jesus heard this, he told them, "Healthy people don't need a doctor -- sick people do. I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough."
John's disciples and the Pharisees sometimes fasted. One day some people came to Jesus and asked, "Why do John's disciples and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don't fast?"
Jesus replied, "Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. They can't fast while they are with the groom.
But someday he will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
And who would patch an old garment with unshrunk cloth? For the new patch shrinks and pulls away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger hole than before.
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. The wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine needs new wineskins."