The Healing of the Paralytic

The Healing of the Paralytic

The Healing of the Paralytic

Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-2; Luke 5:17-26

Application - The faith of the paralytic’s friends had brought him into the presence of Jesus for healing. Jesus’ first concern was for the soul of the paralytic; He forgave the man’s sins before healing his physical infirmity.How might Christian people help others experience this power of forgiveness?


Can you imagine being touched by Jesus? Think about how Jesus has touched your life. Think about the people whose lives need to be touched. This healed leper was told to show himself to the priest, to officially clear him of disease and allow him to return to society, as Moses commanded. Jesus asked him not to talk about his healing, but he could not restrain himself; he openly spread the news of the miracle..

Create a list of friends and family members who need to be touched by Jesus through physical, emotional, and/or spiritual healing.

Lesson Background

Jesus had intentionally chosen to travel through Samaria on His way from Jerusalem to Galilee. During Jesus’ time, there was animosity between Judea and Samaria. Most Jews avoided Samaria by crossing the Jordan River and traveling north through Perea to reach Galilee.[1]The history between Judea and Samaria had been troublesome for centuries. When the Northern Kingdom of Israel fell to Assyria, most of the Israelites were exiled to other regions, leaving only a remnant of Israel.[2]Assyrian captives from many pagan nations were purposefully relocated to Samaria. This proximity led to intermarriage between Jews and pagans, with some blending of religions.[3]

The Jews of Samaria identified Mount Gerizim as their center of worship to the God of Abraham, and their Scripture was limited to the first five books of the Bible or the Law of Moses. The alienation between the nations worsened when the Jews returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile.[4] The Samaritans offered to help in the reconstruction of the Temple and city walls, but that offer was refused by Ezra and Nehemiah because of Samaria’s pagan alliances. This certainly added to the long-standing antagonism between Judea and Samaria.

Jesus began His ministry in Galilee, traveling with some of the disciples. It was early in His ministry and He had not yet chosen all of the Twelve. Faithful Jews gathered at the synagogue on the Sabbath for the recitation of the Shema, prayers, reading from the Law and the Prophets, and teaching. The Shema was the Jewish confession of faith, acknowledging that God was the one true God and His commandments were their commandments.[5] Later in His ministry, Jesus was questioned about the greatest commandment. Jesus answered by quoting the Shema: Mark 12:29-30 (KJV) The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

Synagogues were established locally wherever there were as many as ten Jewish men living in the area. A synagogue in the first century may have been just an assembly or gathering place, possibly a private home and not necessarily a designated building. A synagogue’s location was required to be centrally located within the villages to avoid surpassing the distance of a Sabbath Day’s journey. That was the distance that a faithful Jew could travel to his local place of worship on the Sabbath. That distance was 2,000 cubits or a little more than a half mile.[6] A local elder had oversight of each synagogue. He cared for the meeting site and chose the participants of the day.[7]An attendant would deliver the sacred scrolls to those reading the Scriptures and return them to their special place for safe-keeping as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. After leaving Samaria and traveling to Galilee, Jesus went to Nazareth. On the Sabbath, He attended the local synagogue and was chosen to read.

Luke 4:17-21 "The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began by saying to them, 'Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.'”

The people of Nazareth recognized Jesus and were amazed at His teachings, but questioned His authority. Having heard the news of His miraculous healing in other villages, they demanded that He perform miracles as He had done in Capernaum. Jesus refused by answering in this way: He said, “And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed--only Naaman the Syrian.”[8]The people were furious and drove Him out of the village. After being rejected in His hometown of Nazareth, Jesus made His home in Capernaum and traveled throughout Galilee, teaching in various locations and in the local synagogues on the Sabbaths. The people gathered to hear the words of Jesus. Many of the common people loved to listen to Jesus. He often taught using parables or stories drawn from common things in their lives. They were able to easily identify with these illustrations.The people were amazed at His teachings, because He taught them with authority and not like other religious leaders who taught in the synagogues. These teachers or Scribes were most often Pharisees who studied, interpreted, and taught the oral and written Law of Moses in the synagogues. These men were meant to be religious examples for the people, but they seemed to see themselves as righteous guardians of the Law and its proper observance.[9]

This early ministry of Jesus was located in Galilee and this was a rural area of Palestine and was quite different from the urban area of Judea. The Galileans were less influenced by the religious leaders of Jerusalem. They generally traveled to Jerusalem only for holy days or festivals; otherwise, they worshipped in the local synagogues. While Jesus was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum, a man entered possessed by a demon or an unclean spirit and cried out to Jesus,“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy One of God!”[10]The demon appears to have possessed the man to torment or destroy him, but this evil spirit was capable of speaking through the possessed man. Some translations refer to these “demons” as “devils,” but there is only one Devil or Satan. The demonic spirit who possessed this man was able to recognize the divinity of Jesus and knew that Jesus had authority over Satan and he would obey Him. Jesus sternly demanded silence and told the demon to leave the man. The evil spirit shook the man violently and departed from him with a shriek. Whatever these evil spirits were, it appears that the people believed in them, and it was obvious that Jesus had power over these demonic spirits. This is the first miracle recorded in Mark 1:22-28 and the news of this exorcism spread quickly throughout Galilee.Jesus certainly taught with authority, but His power was demonstrated as He exorcised this evil spirit. After teaching at the synagogue, Jesus went home with Simon Peter to find his mother-in-law sick with a high fever. Jesus touched her hand and the fever left her. She immediately arose to serve her guests.

The news of this healing spread quickly, and as Sabbath ended at sundown, many people with various diseases and demons were brought to Peter’s home to be healed. Jesus healed all the sick and drove out the evil spirits, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases."[11]Mark and Luke wrote that the demons were not allowed to speak because they knew that He was the Christ.Jesus went about the region of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing many people who were afflicted. These miracles were to show God’s compassion, not to build on the fame or popularity of Jesus. After the miracles were seen in Galilee, great multitudes followed Jesus to hear His preaching and see or receive a miracle of healing.

Among those healed was a man with leprosy who came to Jesus, begging to be healed. For the Hebrews, leprosy was a dreaded disease, making one unclean and unfit for worship. Anyone coming in contact with that infected person would also be considered unclean. Consequently, lepers were isolated from the general population. His family could bring his food, but had to leave before he came to get what they had left for him. From a distance, he could see his wife and children, but he could never feel them in his arms. Jesus did not look at the outward condition of a person, but the inward condition of the heart. It may have been many years since this leper had felt the touch of another person, but Jesus touched the leper and he was healed. The healing of the leper created much excitement among the people; the multitudes who followed Jesus increased. With these crowds and unceasing needs of the people, Jesus chose to leave the people regularly to be in solitude, to pray, or to be with His disciples. There was no one who could duplicate His ministry, but He did not refrain from taking a rest. At times, He left town and went into the country or boarded a boat and put out to sea. The disciples needed time for instruction and everyone needed rest from the throngs of people who always followed Jesus. If Jesus needed time alone with God, we also need to spend time praying and listening to God.

During His Galilean ministry, Jesus chose Peter’s home in Capernaum as His headquarters. Capernaum was located on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee about 2 ½ miles west of the Jordan River. It was larger than most fishing villages and was considered to be the economic center of Galilee. The proximity of an east-west international trade route brought more commercial benefits, a military installation, and a customs office.[12]This main highway would later be paved by the Romans, but during Jesus’ day, it would have been dusty during the summer and muddy in the rainy season.[13]

John the Baptist had drawn multitudes of people to the wilderness to hear his preaching of repentance. Some of his followers may have been curious onlookers, but many genuinely repented, as evidenced by their willingness to follow Jesus around the countryside. John had been His messenger; he had truly prepared the way for the Lord. Matthew, Mark, and Luke give this account of the healing of the paralytic in Capernaum.

Lesson Outline

  1. The Multitudes Gathered – Matt. 9:1; Mark 2:1-2; Luke 5:17-19
  2. Jesus Forgives and Heals – Matt. 9:2-7; Mark 2:10-12, 21-22
  3. Praise God – Matt. 9:8; Luke 5:25-26

The Multitudes Gathered

Matthew 9:1 – Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town.

Mark 2:1-2 – A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.

Luke 5:17-19 – 17One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

Gathering in Capernaum were throngs of people, along with religious leaders from Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem, waiting for some opportunity to see and hear Jesus. The crowds may have consisted of individuals from all of Jewish society, the believing or the curious, the rich or the poor, the educated or the uneducated. Many were there, and there seemed to be genuine excitement and a growing confidence in the words of Jesus. The Pharisees and scribes had devoted their lives to Jewish tradition and the study of the Scriptures. They were skeptical of His teachings and miracles and certainly concerned by the growing fame and ever-increasing crowds who followed Jesus. The people were not the only ones who gathered at Peter’s home; the Pharisees and Scribes were already sitting there listening to the teachings of Jesus. Thefact that they were sitting, shows that they were honored above the other people who had gathered. Their purposes for being there differed from that of the other people. Like the religious leaders who opposed John the Baptist, they were here looking for a way to end this Jesus movement.

According to the Gospel of Mark, four men carried the bed of a paralyzed man. This bed may have been made of a full sheepskin, which could be easily carried by four men, each holding a corner. The crowds were already there, prevented them from carrying the man into the house. The men did not just turn around and go home when it was too crowded to get in. Determined to bring their friend to Jesus, they carried the paralyzed man to the roof. In verse 19, Luke wrote that the man was lowered through the tiles. Clay tiles were not typically used in Palestine, but packed clay mud over layers of thick branches and wooden beams were formed, dried in the sun, and carried to the roof for placement. Luke may have referred to these, as tiles.[14]We are not told in what part of the house that Jesus was teaching, but an opening was made in the flat roof above Him, and the paralyzed man was somehow lowered to the floor in front of Jesus.

Fewer than four men may not have been able to carry the paralytic to Peter’s house, manouvre through the crowds, make their way to the roof, dig through hard clay, and lower the man to place him at the feet of Jesus. The men must have made a fairly large opening by digging through this dried mud and branches to lower their friend. These four men must have been really good friends to this paralyzed man. It seemed quite important that they bring their friend to Jesus on this day. Maybe they thought that Jesus would leave Capernaum and they would not have another opportunity to bring their friend to Jesus for healing?Maybe they truly believed that the Day of Salvation was now?


Why was the crowd particularly large on this day?

What might have been on the minds of the religious leaders? Why?

What obstacles did the men who brought the paralytic to Jesus encounter?

What can we learn from the extraordinary efforts made by these friends? Are we willing to make such an effort?

How can we identify with the paralytic and the men who brought him to Jesus?

Think about your family and friends that are in need of physical healing today. How hard are you working to bring them into the presence of the Lord for healing?

Jesus Forgives and Heals

Matthew 9:2-7 – 2Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”3At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”4Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7Then the man got up and went home. 8When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

Mark 2:10-12, 21-22 – 10But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”