2. JESUS MEETS A PARALYZED MAN
Background: Houses in Israel had and still have flat roofs. The roofs were built in such a way that two layers of wood were laid on top of supporting logs, and two layers of clay were laid between them. An outside staircase led to the roof. The owner of the house in our text was the mother-in-law of Peter, one of the disciples of Jesus, and it served as Jesus’ home while he was in Capernaum. A person usually becomes paralyzed in middle age or later as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage or blockage. At the same time, he often loses his ability to speak in whole or in part. In our text, the paralyzed man does not say a single word.
Verses 1-3. Let us first think about the paralyzed man’s life up to that point.
- In what ways had the family’s life changed after the father became paralyzed and lost his ability to speak?
- How might the faith of this man have changed after he got sick? What about when God did not heal him despite his prayers?
- What kind of care did the paralyzed man need in his everyday life?
- At that time, there were no indoor toilets or bathrooms in houses. What was the daily life like for the family member who had to take care of the paralyzed man?
- From verse 5 it appears that the man had sins on his conscience. What kind of bad things may a person do even being unable to speak or move?
- Maybe Jesus is referring to the sins that the man had committed before he got sick. How may it have affected him that that he could not apologize to his wife or whomever for what he had done?
Verses 3-4a. Let us now think about the journey those four men made from the house of the paralyzed man to the roof of the house of Peter’s mother-in-law.
- Who were the carriers – think about various alternatives?
- If an adult man is carried on a sleeping mat through a crowded oriental city, what is the most difficult part of that job?
- Why didn’t those four men turn back when they saw that it was impossible to enter the house?
- Why didn’t the people come out of the house so that the sick man and his carriers could have gotten inside?
- How did the sick man get dragged up the outside stairs to the roof without slipping off the mat?
- What kind of tools did the four men need to dismantle the roof and where did they get them?
- What happens to a roof when an opening the size of a man is made through it? Look at the Background information above.
- Jesus was inside the house giving a speech. What kind of remarks might have been heard from inside while the men were dismantling the roof?
Verse 5. We are now considering the short period when the sick person had already heard the words of forgiveness, but had not yet been cured.
- Four men had brought their friend to Jesus for healing. What might they have thought when Jesus did not immediately heal him, but began to talk about forgiveness of sins?
- Imagine asking Jesus for help with your most difficult problem. What if he answered you like this: “My son/daughter, your sins are forgiven.” Would you become happy or angry? (If you could choose, which one would you to choose: good conscience or the solution to your problems?)
- Why did Jesus act in that order that he first forgave sins and only then healed?
- What did Jesus mean when he called the paralyzed man “his son”?
- What did it mean to the paralyzed man to know that all his sins were forgiven, especially those that had been troubling his conscience?
- How did the paralyzed man’s attitude towards his illness change when he now knew that he would eventually go to heaven?
- The words “when Jesus saw their faith” refer to the faith of the four carriers. When, in your opinion, did the paralyzed man himself begin to believe in Jesus?
Verses 6-7. The Jews knew from the Law of Moses that sins could only be forgiven in the temple where animals were sacrificed for the offenders.
- How could Jesus know what the scribes were thinking inside their heads?
- Why did Jesus, and only him, have the right to forgive sins without any sin offering and elsewhere than in the temple?
- Answer the question Jesus asks in verse 9.
- What did it cost Jesus to cure the man’s illness? What would it cost him to forgive the man’s sins?
Verses 10-12. A person usually needs long-term physiotherapy to be able to move if he has been lying in bed for years. Note that “the Son of Man” stands for “Jesus”.
- What did Jesus prove of himself as he healed this man?
- How many miracles happened here?
- Why did the healed man go out the door without saying anything?
- Why did people praise God but not Jesus?
Glad tidings: In this Bible study, Jesus says to you, too: “My son/ my daughter, your sins are forgiven.” He had, however, to pay a high price for his promise: for he himself was made a sin offering when he was hanging on the cross and carrying the punishment for our sins.
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