2 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
(Mark 2:1-5 NIV)
At the end of chapter 1, Jesus was preaching and teaching throughout the region of Galilee (v. 39). As we begin chapter 2, we find Jesus back in Capernaum, his new “home”. He had likely slipped in quietly, needing some rest and quiet from the crowds.
It didn’t take long for word to get out that Jesus was back in town. The crowds pressed in to see and hear Him. Verse 2 tells us that Jesus “preached the word” (see 1:14-15) to the people who gathered in the house.
Since Jesus, by the world’s standards, was a poor itinerant preacher, He probably did not own or even rent property. Jesus’ “home” was likely Peter’s house, where Jesus and His disciples went after Jesus taught in the synagogue (chapter 1).
From the context of today’s story, the crowds were gathered inside Peter’s home as Jesus taught them. Jewish culture in Jesus’ day was that an open door indicated that guests were welcome to come in. When Jesus was at Peter’s house in chapter 1, the sun had set and the front door was closed, indicating that the house was closed for the evening, and no guests were invited. Thus, Jesus was outside the front door in the alley when He healed the sick and cast out the demons.
In today’s story, the door was obviously open, and the crowds had pressed into the small home and were even stacked up in the doorway and standing outside to hear and see Jesus.
The next part of the story requires a bit of house construction insight for the story to make sense. Houses in Jesus’ day were one-story structures, normally with stone walls and a flat roof. The roof consisted of wooden beams overlaid with thatch (straw) and covered with a layer of mud. The width of a house was limited by the length of a tree trunk (normally about 15 feet). In the arid region of Israel, this roofing construction technique was sufficient insulation from the heat and protection from the little bits of rain that would come.
There was often an outside staircase leading to the roof. The roof was a place to get away from the smallness of the house, or even to sleep in the coolness of the evening and under the calm of the stars. The men in the story went up on the roof of the house, pulled up a section of the roof, and lowered their friend down in front of Jesus.
Let’s go back in that moment and experience it with Jesus and the people gathered inside. While Jesus is speaking, they hear footsteps on the roof. This is probably normal, as other house members may have been using the space. All of a sudden, they hear something, and bits of straw and dirt start raining down on them. In another moment, the bright sun starts filling the dark room with its light. A man on a mat is lowered down on ropes, landing right in front of Jesus.
Notice Jesus’ reaction. He is not angry, nor is He surprised. Jesus seems to take all this in stride. Mark (via Peter) reflects on Jesus noticing the faith of the man’s friends to go to all the work to have their friend have an encounter with Jesus.
Jesus uses a term of endearment to speak to the man – He calls the man “son”. Jesus provides healing, but in a way that will send shock waves through the crowd. Jesus tells the man that his sins are forgiven. In tomorrow’s text, we will examine the implications of Jesus’ statement.
From today’s text, what is our faith lesson? What can we take away from the first half of this story? One thing that comes to mind is our level of faith on behalf of someone we care about. Would we go to the effort that these men went through to introduce someone to Jesus? These men would definitely be obeying Jesus’ second greatest commandment of loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40).
May we have the courage and faith to help others that are not able to help themselves, and to accept the help of others when we are in need and unable to provide for ourselves.