I don’t like interruptions, do you? I make my plans and schedules. I know what work I want to do and when. I set up and live my routines. And then, something happens to interrupt my well-laid plans. Let’s not forget that my planning comes after praying for God’s direction. OK, maybe sometimes I make my plans and ask God to bless things then, but even doing that, something happens to distract me from my original goal. In today’s passage, Jesus is interrupted in the middle of His teaching with a request to bring healing. He healed the man, and so much more! Then, He went off to the sea side to get away from everyone, and a crowd descended upon Him, interrupting His alone time with God. Jesus took advantage of the interruption to teach the people. What would happen if we saw interruptions in our lives as opportunity to minister to people in need? I think it would change the world!
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.
After traveling throughout the region of Galilee, Jesus came back to His home base of Galilee. Word got out that He was at home, and the people flocked to Him. The crowds gathered inside the house and spilled into the area around the house so that anyone who might have wanted to get in would have no way of breaking through the crowds. Jesus preached the word of God. I don’t know if they came to see Him perform miracles and heal people, but for whatever reason they came, Jesus proclaimed the message of the Kingdom of God and the people didn’t leave. I’m reminded of the discussion we had in a class I was in where people were criticizing some of the methods other churches were using to get people to come to their church. Our professor listened for awhile and then made this profound statement: “Whatever you do to get people to come to church, make sure that they hear the good news of Jesus Christ.” In our lives, no matter what we do to gain an audience whether it be in person or on social media, we must make sure that we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
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.
And now we see the point of the story. Four men were bringing a man “sick of the palsy” (more modern translations describe the man as paralyzed) to be healed by Jesus. As I imagine the situation, one of the friends heard that Jesus was in town and decided this was the perfect time to get Jesus to heal his paralyzed friend. Perhaps he hadn’t heard about Jesus and been able to get to Him in the crowd after Peter’s mother-in-law was healed. Maybe he came the day after only to find out that Jesus had left town. He knew that he had to act fast, so he rounded up the other three friends who gathered at the home of the paralyzed man and then carried him through the streets so that he could see Jesus. Only, because it took them so long to get everything ready and to walk through the streets, by the time they got there, the crowd was outside the door. There was no way to get in. It would have been easy to give up at that point. (Have you ever been so frustrated by circumstances that you want to give up on something you really want?) These friends came up with an alternative solution. Houses in those days had flat roofs. Sometimes, people slept on the roof. Most houses had outside stairs to the roof and this house was no different. They carried their friend up the stairs and after a few calculations to figure out about where Jesus was standing, they dug a hole in the roof that was large enough to let their friend down. (Just note that the construction methods of the time would make repairing the roof a little easier than it would be today.)
I imagine that digging sounded like scratching at first. Perhaps it was even unnoticeable in the beginning. As the friends got closer to digging through the roof, things got louder and then, I imagine, debris started falling down on those who were closest to Jesus, maybe even on Jesus Himself and the digging became a distraction, an interruption to the teaching. As riveting a teacher as Jesus must have been, people started looking up at the sound of the digging and tried to figure out what was happening, Then, a small hole appeared that eventually grew large enough to let the man down on his mat and these friends lowered him until he was on the floor in front of Jesus. Mark tells us that story in one sentence, and while I added some imagination to the story, I believe something like that happened. And what does Jesus do?
5. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
Jesus forgave the man who was paralyzed. He granted him total forgiveness for his sins. Let’s go back to the imagination again. I can’t help but wonder about the guys on top of the roof and what they were thinking. “What did Jesus say? Is our friend walking yet?” “Jesus forgave him of his sins.” “What? What good does that do? We wanted him to walk again.” Sometimes we come before God with a preconceived notion of what He needs to do to satisfy us. Then, God deals with our biggest need and it doesn’t seem to take care of our immediate need and we wonder how God got it so wrong. Again, some of this comes from speculation, but it makes sense to me. Am I way off on this idea? As to how the people in the house reacted, read on.
6. But there was 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?
Oh those scribes. They were there, even in Capernaum. Maybe they didn’t have the big names that the scribes in Jerusalem had, but they had the same attitude. They knew how God worked and they “knew” that God didn’t act like that. Perhaps they came to learn from a new teacher. Perhaps they came to critique and judge this new teacher. For whatever reason they were there, they heard Jesus proclaim forgiveness and they didn’t like it. They accused Him in their hearts of blasphemy. They had no thoughts for the paralyzed man, they were just upset that Jesus would dare to forgive sins since that was God’s job, not some unknown teacher’s job. They didn’t say it out loud, but they had made their verdict: this Jesus was not a teacher from God because He was trying to do what only God could do.
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.
Have you ever been in a situation where it seems that someone can read your mind. It’s a bit uncomfortable when someone looks at you and repeats what you’re thinking. Jesus not only perceived what these scribes were thinking, He called them out on their thoughts. He said, in effect, “Why are you accusing me of blasphemy because I forgave this man’s sins? Which is easier to say, ‘your sins are forgiven?’ or ‘take up your mat and walk?’” Both things are easy to say, but what makes them difficult is to say them with effectiveness. Of the two, you wouldn’t notice a difference if someone was forgiven. If I say I forgive someone, you wouldn’t notice a change in their appearance or abilities, even if I was able to actually forgive them completely. Jesus had that power to forgive all of this man’s sins. While the effect couldn’t be seen outwardly, it lay the groundwork for that man’s life after Jesus’s next act which was to heal Him. And, Jesus told the scribes point blank that the truth of His ability to forgive sins would be that the man would be able to pick up his bed and walk out of the house. And then, Jesus told the man to pick up his bed and walk home. I don’t know if there could have been any teaching after this miracle. Perhaps this miracle actually was a culmination of the day’s lesson.
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.
So what happened? The guy didn’t wallow in self-pity and tell Jesus it would be nice if he’d be able to do that some time in the future. He obeyed. Immediately. His response was something along the lines of “Jesus told me to do it, so I’m going to do it.” He got up, picked up his bed, and left the building. The people in the house had the right reaction: they were amazed and they glorified God. Their words were simple: “We’ve never seen anything like this before!” I don’t know about you, but I’m still amazed when I see God working, and even more so when He answers a specific prayer. Sometimes that amazement borders on disbelief. It’s not that I don’t believe God will work miracles, it’s that I have a hard time believing that He’d work those miracles in my life. The miracle began with the forgiveness of sins, and sometimes, even though I “know” that I’m forgiven, I don’t feel forgiven. I should note that the problem is mine, not God’s. Because I don’t feel forgiven, I don’t feel worthy of having God act in my life, and thus, I’m astounded when He does act miraculously. I pray that I would never lose the amazement when I see God work, but that I would also experience God’s complete forgiveness and live so that others would experience that same miracle.
13. And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.
In modern terms, we could describe the guy walking out of the house, carrying his bed, as a “drop the mic” moment. Jesus left the city again and went to the sea side. (The Sea of Galilee.) One of the benefits of living in Corpus Christi is that we can go to the water and either drive by or walk along the bay. There’s a sense of calm and peace, especially when a lot is on your mind. I love the experience of watching the birds in the area. Jesus probably enjoyed the calming effects of the sea. But, people, the multitude, found out where He was and they flocked to them. Jesus didn’t run away when He saw the people coming, He recognized this as another chance to teach them about the Kingdom of God and He took advantage of that to teach them. Jesus needed His alone time with God, which is a good reminder for us to spend time alone with God, but He took advantage of opportunities to teach the good news to the crowds who interrupted that time. I don’t know about you, but I tend to let interruptions to my plans and my schedule upset me. I wonder what would happen if I took advantage of life’s interruptions to share the good news of Jesus with others.