Summary: There were four men carrying a fifth friend, who was very sick. They couldn't get to Jesus directly, so what did they do instead?
Introduction: Jesus loved people. Many times in the Gospels we can read that He healed someone, performed a miracle, preached, taught, or in some way or another was involved with people. Certainly, He seldom went or stayed where He wasn’t wanted, or if the place didn’t accept Him.
The events in this passage of Scripture happened early in Jesus’ ministry. According to Mark chapter 1, He had already called Andrew, Peter, James, and John to be disciples, and He has begun to minister to the people of Capernaum in various ways. Now we’re going to see one of the more unusual episodes in the Gospels. The text is
from Mark chapter 2, in the King James Version (KJV):
[Mark 2:1-12] 1 And again he entered into Capernaum after [some] days; and it was noised that he was in the house. 2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive [them], no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. 3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. 4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken [it] up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. 6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7 Why doth this [man] thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? 9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, [Thy] sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) 11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. 12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
I Inside the house, vv. 1-2
First, we see that Jesus has returned to Capernaum after an interval of “some days (see v.1). From chapter 1, we see that He had done a number of great things, but had also left. He had gone to any number of places (verse 1 states that Jesus had gone “throughout all Galilee”). I’m sure the people of Capernaum remembered how Jesus had not only taught with authority, but had also cast out a demon from a man who somehow was in the synagogue! Further, there were probably some who remembered how Jesus had healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law from a fever.
These days, something seems to be missing as compared to those days: a hunger and thirst for the Word of God. It’s true there were synagogues, where the Law and the Prophets were expounded, but apparently nothing like the teaching ministry of Jesus had been there in a long time, if at all. Again we can refer back to Mark 1:22 where he records that Jesus spoke with authority, and not as the scribes. These are the same words, by the way, that Matthew used to describe the way Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:29).
We’re not told whose house this was, nor the size, or if there was anything special about how the house was built. We can get an idea, based on models or other data, about the size of the house and the size of the rooms. One such place is in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, at the “Great Passion Play”. Some of the exhibits are replicas of tents, the Tabernacle, and some stone houses to represent dwellings of New Testament times. Of course, the sizes might be adjusted depending on the desires (if not wealth) of the property owner. But there are a few general principles: all of them had at least one door, leading either into the house or the courtyard; and there was usually another door, like a trapdoor so that the household members could get up on the roof. Several books about Bible customs and manners describe the cooling effects of breezes while a person is standing on the roof. Plus, a few years later, Jesus and the disciples would have their last Passover meal together in a large upper room—a room built on the rooftop.