Jesus Heals a Paralytic at Capernaum.

a MATT. 9:2-8; b MARK 2:1-12; c LUKE 5:17-26.

      c 17 And it came to pass on one of those days, b when he entered again into Capernaum after some days, c that he was teaching; b it was noised that he was in the house. [Luke uses the general expression "those days," referring to the early portion of our Lord's ministry in Galilee. Mark says, "some days," which implies the lapse of a considerable interval. The healing of the leper created such excitement that for some time, several weeks, Jesus kept out of the cities. He now, after the excitement has subsided, quietly enters Capernaum, and probably goes to the house of Simon Peter, now looked upon as his head quarters in Capernaum ( Mark 1:29 ). His entrance into Capernaum marks the end of his first missionary tour through Galilee.]

  2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, no, not even about the door: and he spake the word unto them. [Oriental houses are one or two storied structures, built in the form of a square, or rectangle, with an open space in the center called the court. They have one door which opens from the street into an open space called the porch, and this porch in turn opens upon the court. In this porch there is usually a stairway leading to the roof. The roofs are invariably flat, and are surrounded by a breastwork or parapet to keep those on them from falling off. Roofs or housetops are used as we use yards, only they are somewhat private. Some think that this house was a two-storied structure, and that Jesus was teaching in the upper room or second story. If this were so, there would have been little profit to the people who clung about the street door, for they could neither see nor hear. Besides, a two-storied house would probably have been beyond the means of Simon Peter. It is more likely that Jesus was in the room opposite the porch across the court. If so, the crowd at the door might catch an occasional word, or by tiptoing obtain a momentary glance; and thus fan the hope of some ultimate satisfaction. The gospel is here called "the word," for it is the Word among words, as the Bible is the Book among books.] c and there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by [the fact that they were sitting, shows that they were honored above the rest: Jesus did not increase their ill-will by any needless disrespect], who were come out of every village of Galilee and Judaea and Jerusalem [It is not likely that such a gathering came together by accident. Capernaum was known to be the headquarters of Jesus, and these leaders of the people had doubtless gathered there to wait for some opportunity to see or hear Jesus. They recognized the necessity of coming to some definite judgment regarding him. We shall see in this scene the beginning of their hostility to Jesus, which developed into four objections: 1. Alleged blasphemy; 2. Intercourse with publicans and sinners; 3. Supposed neglect of ascetic duties, such as washings, fastings, etc.; 4. Alleged violation of the sabbath]: and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. [That is to say, the power of God the Father was then working in Jesus to perform miracles ( John 14:10 ). Some take this as implying that other miracles had been wrought that day, before the arrival of the paralytic. But the words are more likely a preface for what follows; in which case the meaning is that the cold disbelief of the Pharisees did not prevent Jesus from working miracles, as disbelief usually did-- Matthew 13:58 ; 16:1-4 .]

  18 And behold, men bring {a they brought b they come, bringing} unto him a man sick of the palsy, {c that was palsied:} a lying on a bed: b borne of four [Palsy is an abbreviation of the word "paralysis." It is caused by a cessation of the nervous activities. See Section 33. In the East bedsteads were practically unknown. An Oriental bed is a thin mattress, or pallet, just large enough for a man to lie upon; and those generally used by the poor to-day are made of sheepskin with the wool on it. Such a bed could be easily carried by four men, if each took hold of a corner.] c and they sought to bring him in [i. e., into the house], and to lay him before him.

  19 And not finding by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude,

  b 4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the crowd

[To these four who sought Jesus it seemed a case of now or never. If they waited till another season, Jesus might withdraw himself again for "some days," or the palsied man might die. "Now" is always the day of salvation], housetop [They went up by means of the stairs in the porch, or by ascending to the roof of an adjoining house, and stepping across to the roof of Simon's house. Many commentators assert that they went up by an outside stairway, erroneously believing that such stairs are common in Palestine; but they are almost unknown there, and their presence would only expose the inmates of the house to violence and pillage], b they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed whereon the sick of the palsy lay. c and let him down through the tiles with his couch into the midst before Jesus. [Some have thought that removing the roof merely means that they took away the awning over the court, and also that the removal of the tile merely means that they took down the parapet or wall which prevented people from falling from the roof into the court. But the language is strongly against such a construction. An awning is not a roof, and it is rolled up, not "broken up." Moreover, the man was let down "through the tiles," which seems to indicate that the remaining tiles encased an opening through which he was lowered. The tiles were plates of burnt clay, suitable for roofing rather than for building walls or parapets. We are not told in what part of the house Jesus stood, but evidently an opening was made in the flat roof above him, and the man was lowered to the floor in front of Jesus by means of short straps or pieces of rope fastened to the four corners of the bed. A stout parapet would have aided rather than hindered, if the body had been lowered into the court.]

  b 5 And Jesus seeing their faith [The four friends of the sick man showed their faith by those bold and persistent efforts which took liberties with the house of a neighbor; and the palsied man showed his faith by consenting to the extraordinary means employed in his behalf] saith {a said} unto the sick of the palsy, Son, {c Man,} a be of good cheer; c thy sins are forgiven thee. [The affectionate address, "Son," might have ordinarily surprised the Jewish doctors, who held themselves too far removed from sinners to But the smaller surprise was swallowed up in the greater, when they heard Jesus pronounce the forgiveness of the man's sins. Since man had trod the globe, sin against God had never been pardoned by the direct, authoritative utterance of fleshly lips. Such power resides in Jesus alone. Since then, and even in modern times, mistaken priests have presumed to speak forgiveness; but the apostles claimed no such power ( Acts 8:22 ). So far as the church forgives sins ( John 20:23 ), it does it merely as the organ of God, and must do so according to the methods and ordinances laid down by God. Those who profess to forgive sin by word of mouth, should be able to make good their claim to this boasted power by healing diseases or otherwise removing the consequences of sin. Failing to do this, they must forever rest under justified suspicion that they are, wittingly or unwittingly, guilty of blasphemy.]

  b 6 But there were certain of the scribes c and the Pharisees b sitting there,

  a 3 And behold,

[they] c began to reason, b and reasoning in their hearts, a said within themselves, c saying, a This man blasphemeth.

  b 7 Why doth this that man thus speak?

[A scornful expression, shown by the repetition, houtos houtoo, which means, literally, "this one these things."] c Who is this that speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, b but one, even God? c alone? [In classic Greek to blaspheme means to speak evil or, or to slander a person, and it is used in this sense in the New Testament ( Titus 3:2 ; 2 Peter 2:2 ; Jude 1:8 ). Its ordinary New Testament use, however, is quite different, since it is employed to designate something which reflects evil on the character and nature of God. This use is peculiar to monotheistic writers, and was unknown to the Greeks. Such blasphemies may be divided into three general heads, thus: 1. To attribute the unworthy to God. 2. To deny the worthy to God. 3. To arrogate or claim any attribute, power, authority, etc., which belongs to exclusively to God. It was under this third head that Jesus seemed to lay himself open to accusation--an accusation entirely just if he Son of God. The Pharisees were not faulty in their logic, but were mistaken in their premises; hence Jesus does not deny their doctrine; he merely corrects their mistaken application of it to himself. As to this pronounced forgiveness of Jesus, two questions arise: 1. Why did he forgive the man's sins? The haste with which the man was brought to Jesus suggests that his condition was critical; in which case the torment of sin would be the greater. As a searcher of hearts, Jesus saw the unuttered desire of the sick man, and at once responded to it. If his words meant nothing to the conscience of the man, they were wasted; but Jesus knew what was in man. 2. Why did he pronounce the forgiveness so publicly? As the terms of pardon prescribed in the law were yet in full force, this open speech of Jesus was a surprising assertion of authority. In fact, such assertions were exceptional in his ministry; for only on three recorded occasions did he thus forgive sins ( Luke 7:48 ; 23:43 ). Being the exceptional and not the established method of pardon, and being thus employed in the presence of so representative an audience, it was evidently used for a special purpose; and that purpose was to show that Jesus had such power, that men seeing this power might believe him to be the Son of God. He was vindicating an eternal law of the universe, in which all human beings throughout all generations would be interested; viz.: that humanity has a Ruler who can present it spotless before the throne of God ( Jude 1:24 ). Jesus propounded his law in the presence of those most interested in exposing it if false, and most able to explode it had it not been true. Whether his words were truth or blasphemy, was the controversy between Christ and the rulers from that day to the end of his ministry-- Matthew 26:65 .]

  b 8 And straightway Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they so reasoned {c their reasonings,} b within themselves,

  a 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts

[Jesus read their thoughts by his divine insight, and not because of any recognized habit or tendency on their part to criticise him, for this is the first recorded indication of hostility on the part of the though it is hinted at, at John 4:1 . Such discernment of the thought was to be a characteristic mark of the expected Messiah ( Isaiah 11:2 Isaiah 11:3 ), and Jesus had it ( John 2:25 ). It also is an attribute peculiar to God-- 1 Chronicles 28:9 ; Jeremiah 17:10 ; Romans 8:27 ; Revelation 2:23 ] c answered and said {b saith} unto them, a Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? [Jesus could see invisible sin, and could forgive it or condemn it, as the conditions moved him. The powers of discernment, forgiveness and condemnation make him the perfect Judge.]   b Why reason ye in your hearts?

  a 5 For which is easier, b to say to the sick of the palsy, c Thy sins are forgiven thee; b or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?

[To understand this sentence we should place the emphasis upon the word "say," because the question at issue was the power or effect of his speech. The rabbis, after their first shock of surprise, thought that Jesus feared to attempt the fraud of a so-called miracle in the presence of learned men, lest he should be detected and exposed; and hence looked upon his present action as an attempt to bear himself safely off before the public, and to maintain his standing by the use of high-sounding words. They felt that he used words of unseen effect, because he dared not use those of seen effect. This was precisely the view that Jesus knew they would take, and that he wished them to take; for by showing his ability to work in the realms of sight that which is impossible; viz.: the healing of the sick man, he could place before them proof suited to their own reasoning that he had a like ability to work the impossible in the realms of the unseen; viz.: the forgiveness of the man's sins. By thus demonstrating his authority in the eternal and physical world, Jesus assures us of his dominion over the internal and spiritual.]

  10 But that ye may know that the Son of man [Daniel's name for the Messiah-- Daniel 7:10-13 ] hath authority on earth to forgive sins [The words "on earth" are taken by some to indicate the then existing contrast between Christ's present humiliation or ministry on earth, and his future glorification or enthronement in heaven; in which case mean that Jesus could grant now that which some might think could only be exercised hereafter. Others take them to mean the same as if Jesus had said, "You think that forgiveness can only be granted by the Father in heaven, but it can also be granted by the Son upon earth. That which you have heretofore sought from the Father you may now seek from me." The latter is probably the correct view. As to the test of power or authority, the miracle of Jesus was very convincing; for in the popular opinion sin was a cause of which disease was the effect. We are told, on the authority of later rabbis, that it was a maxim among the Jews that no diseased person could be healed till his sins were blotted out. We also recognize a correlation between sins and diseases, which the Saviour's use of this miracle justifies. A mere miracle, such as swallowing fire or causing iron to float, would not prove his ability to forgive sins. The proof consisted in the relation which disease bears to sin, and the consequent relation which healing bears to forgiveness. The connection between disease and sin is a real and necessary one. The Jews were right in seeing this connection, but they erred in thinking that they were warranted in personally criminating every one whom they found afflicted, and in judging that the weight of the affliction indicated the quantity of the sin. The Book of Job should have corrected this error. Such unrighteous judgments are condemned by Christ ( John 9:3 ; Luke 13:2-5 ). Paralysis is, however, to-day looked upon as ordinarily the punishment of some personal sin, usually that of intemperance or sensuality],

a (then saith he to the sick of the palsy), {c (he said unto him that was palsied),} I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, {b bed,} c and go up unto thy house. [What command could be more pleasant than that which bade this sick man go home forgiven and healed?]

  25 And immediately he rose up {a arose,} c before them, b and straightway took up the bed, c that whereon he lay ["A sweet saying! The bed had borne the man; now the man bore the bed"--Bengel], b and went forth before them all c glorifying God. b insomuch that they were all amazed,

  8 But when the multitudes saw it, they were afraid,

  c 26 And amazement took hold on all, and they glorified God

[The "all" of this passage hardly includes the scribes and Pharisees, or, if it does, their admiration of Jesus was but a momentary enthusiasm, which quickly passed away]; a who had given such authority unto men. [Some take the word "men" as the plural of category, and apply it to Christ. Others think that they regarded Jesus as a mere man among other men, and that they therefore looked upon his power as a gift given to men generally, and not as something peculiar to himself. If this latter view is correct, it is likely that they took the words "Son of man" as referring to men generally, and not as a reference to the Messiah, such as Jesus meant it to be.] b saying, We never saw it on this fashion, c and they were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to-day. [Literally, seen paradoxes: things contrary to common thought and ordinary experience. They had seen a threefold miracle: sins forgiven, thoughts read and palsy healed.]