People always flocked around Jesus, to hear Him teach, and to see the great miracles He performed. In these Scriptures, we read that Jesus came into Capernaum, and so many people gathered there that the house couldn't hold them all--- and still they kept coming!
There was a man there who was sick of the palsy, which was a name given by Biblical writers to any number of degenerative diseases resulting in paralysis. Whatever his illness was, the man could not walk or get around under his own power, he was completely bedridden, and suffered greatly.
This man had four friends however, who were very good friends indeed. They believed that if they could just get him to Jesus, he would be healed of his lameness. Jesus had already performed many miracles of healing, so the four friends carried this poor crippled man's bed to the house where Jesus was.
What needs do you know of in the lives of your friends or family members that Jesus can meet? Do you have faith that Jesus can meet their needs; have you tried to bring them to Jesus?
When they got to the house, they found they could not begin to get through the crowds. They didn't give up, though; they had faith that Jesus could heal their friend if they could just get him to Jesus. In desperation, they came up with an innovative plan, one that was bold and daring --- they took him up to the roof of the house, cut through the roof, and lowered his bed down to where Jesus sat teaching the crowd.
These friends had gone to extraordinary lengths to bring their crippled friend to our Lord. Jesus recognized their actions as an expression of their faith, and because of their faith, He told the crippled man "Son, your sins are forgiven". This is a very important lesson for us: this man was spiritually healed by the faith of his friends, not neccesarily his own faith. There are many instances in the Bible where one person is healed because of the faith of another person. (see Matt. 9:2; 9:18; 9:32; 15:28, Acts 5:16; 9:40; 16:31; I Cor7:16) All of these make it very clear--- our faith can allow God to work in the lives of others.
How far are you willing to go to bring a friend to Jesus? Do you just give up if your first attempt is unsuccessful? Are you willing to take the initiative, be bold and daring, and to go to extreme measures?
The Jews believed that physical illness was a result of sinfulness, which is true to this extent: there was no physical illness or death until after the original sin. They believed that forgiveness of sin must precede physical healing. Jesus knew that both then and now, man's greatest need is spiritual healing, or forgiveness. Our Lord gave this poor crippled man what he most needed, spiritual healing.
There were some scribes there who considered this to be a great blasphemy on Jesus's part, reasoning that only God himself can forgive sins. They did not realize the power and authority Jesus had on earth--- that He was truly the Son of God. These men were present that day for only one reason: they were trying to gather evidence against Jesus. Blasphemy is irreverence regarding God, and the punishment for it was death by stoning.
Though they didn't speak these thoughts out loud, Jesus discerned their thoughts--- nothing is ever hidden from our Lord. Only God can look past the outward appearances to see the innermost thoughts in one's heart.(see I Sam. 16:7; Luke 16:15; and I Kings 8a:39) In Matthew's account of this incident, we read that Jesus rebuked these men for harboring such evil thoughts in their minds. He asked them which was easier, to say "Your sins are forgiven", or to say "Arise, take up your bed and walk"? (Both of these things are equally impossible through human effort, but easy for God to accomplish.)
Naturally, it is easier to say that one's sins were forgiven; who could prove or disprove such a thing? Telling the man to walk could easily be verified, however; so to prove to them that He had power on earth to forgive sins, Jesus told the lame man to get up and go to his own house. He healed the man physically to prove that He had healed him spiritually. There could be no mistaking the outcome; the crippled man immediately got up and walked, and all the people in the crowd were amazed, and glorified God. By doing something that could be proved, He validated His power and His authority to do these things.
Do you believe that only Jesus provides forgiveness for the sin that separates one from God? Are you willing to do whatever is neccesary to bring others to Jesus for forgiveness and healing?
There are actually three miracles in this passage of Scripture. The first is the spiritual healing of the paralysed man, the forgiveness of his sins. The second is Jesus's discernment of the innermost thoughts of the sceptical scribes, and the third is the physical healing that allowed this man to get up and walk.
Jesus still has the power and authority today to forgive sin and provide healing. He can still meet all of our needs, both spiritual and physical, and others can be healed through our faith. We have to be willing to take the initiative, to be bold and daring, to go a step farther and to persevere, in order to bring others to Jesus.
(See also Matt. 9:1-8 and Luke 5:18-26)