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Healing a Paralytic in Capernaum (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26) | Werner Bible Commentary

Healing a Paralytic in Capernaum (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26)

Submitted by admin on Sun, 2007-09-02 09:22.

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When Jesus returned to Capernaum (his “own city”) with his disciples, he likely stayed in the home of Peter and Andrew. Once it became known that Jesus was again in the city, many people came to the house. According to Luke’s account (5:17), among them were Pharisees and teachers of the law from towns in Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. It would appear that the crowd filled the house and the courtyard. So many had gathered that even outside the home the entrance was blocked. (Matthew 9:1; Mark 2:1, 2)

While Jesus addressed the people, four men came, carrying a paralytic on a mat. Unable to get to Jesus, the men climbed up the outside stairs to the flat roof. They then dug an opening through the earthen roof and lowered the paralytic in front of Jesus. Seeing this evidence of their faith in him as one who could cure the paralyzed man, Jesus said, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:3-5; Luke 5:18-20)

Hearing this, the scribes and Pharisees who were there began to reason within themselves that Jesus was blaspheming, as only God could forgive sins. Discerning their thoughts, he said, “Why are you thinking these things [evil (Matthew 9:4)] in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven, or to say, Get up and pick up your mat and walk?” (Matthew 9:3-5; Mark 2:6-9; Luke 5:21-23)

To let them know that he, the Son of Man, had “authority to forgive sins,” Jesus said to the paralytic, “I say to you, Get up, take your mat, and go to your home.” The paralytic then got up, immediately picked up his mat, and departed in front of the amazed onlookers. Those who witnessed this miracle were filled with a reverential fear and glorified or praised God, saying, “Never have we seen anything like this!” (Matthew 9:6-8; Mark 2:10-12; Luke 5:24-26)


Much of Jesus’ activity centered in Capernaum and, therefore, came to be known as his “own city.” (Matthew 9:1)

See http://bibleplaces.com/capernaum.htm for pictures of and comments about Capernaum.

In Matthew 9:2 and Mark 2:5, Jesus is quoted as addressing the paralytic as “child,” whereas Luke 5:20 says “man.” This could be understood to mean that the paralytic was a young man. Another possibility is that the designation “child” functions as an expression of compassionate or loving concern for the paralytic and could be rendered “my dear man.”

As the unique Son of God who would lay down his life in sacrifice to make forgiveness possible for all who responded in faith, Jesus, while on earth, possessed the authority to forgive sins. He discerned the genuineness of the paralytic’s faith and responded to him accordingly.

Physical ailments were commonly attributed to a person’s having sinned. On one occasion the disciples expressed that belief regarding a blind man, asking whether his blindness was to be attributed to his own sin or that of his parents. (John 9:2) When assuring the paralytic that his sins had been forgiven, Jesus made it clear to him that he was not under God’s disfavor. Therefore, upon being cured physically, the man also ceased to be burdened by any feelings of guilt. The assurance of forgiveness, confirmed by the miracle, resulted in making him well in all respects. While this assurance caused the scribes and Pharisees to find fault, it served to benefit that formerly afflicted man. In his love and compassion, Jesus did not hold back from saying what was needed despite knowing the kind of unfavorable reaction that was forthcoming from some who were then present.

Jesus’ telling the paralytic that his sins had been forgiven would not have proved that this had actually occurred nor could it be disproved with tangible evidence. When, however, the paralytic got up and walked away with his mat, Jesus’ words were undeniably confirmed. Therefore, the more difficult saying, the one requiring a miracle for it to be revealed as authoritative, was to say to the paralytic, “Get up and pick up your mat and walk.” (Mark 2:9)

It is most unlikely that those who witnessed the miracle would all have used the same words. This is reflected in the difference between Mark 2:12 (“Never have we seen anything like this!”) and Luke 5:26 (“We saw remarkable things today!”).