Bob's Sermon for Sunday, March 4, 2017


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Why some guys removed a roof


Mark 2:1-12 NIV


     (Mark 2:1) “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.’ (6) Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, (7) ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?


      “(8) Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things? (9) Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up, take your mat and walk”? (10) But 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.’”


    (12) He 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!’”


     This text creates more questions than three four-year–olds could ask in a month.

·         When the text reads “he had come home,” does that mean that Jesus owned a house in Capernaum?

·         What caused the man’s paralysis?

·         How did those four men get the paralytic up to the roof?

·         How did they get through the roof?

·         Could Jesus actually forgive sin?

·         Does this text teach a connection between sin and illness?


     Let’s start with the easier questions: When the text reads “he had come home,” does that mean that Jesus owned a house? Whether Jesus was once a homeowner, no one now can say. On one occasion, Jesus said he did not have a place to lay his head.[1] 

The original simply reads “at house.” Because of the crowds, Jesus had to get out of town for a while. “At house” possibly means that he was back in town; there’s too little evidence to reach any conclusion.[2] Some doubt that Jesus ever owned a residence and think this event occurred at Peter’s house. Something about “house” is significant, though, and we shall discuss it later.


     Next: What caused the man’s paralysis? The English word paralytic comes from the word used in the original here. Paralysis in Greek describes apparent loss of the use of one’s lower limbs. Paralysis describes a symptom; the cause is often unknown.[3]

This fellow was not getting around under his own power, but his friends thought enough of him to carry him.


     How did those four men get the guy up to the roof? That might be the easiest question. Many houses of that era had flat roofs or sections of the roof that were flat. Larger homes had outside stairways that went up one wall to the roof. Smaller ones usually had rope ladders. In the evening before they went to bed, people often sat on house roofs. It was cooler there and removed from the street smell of cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys, horses, and camels. 


     The language leads me to think the four men carried the paralytic up stairs.[4] How did they get through the roof so they could lower the paralytic? They did not have chainsaws or Skill saws; maybe they used shovels; or possibly dug with their hands. 

Roofs were made of wood beams, tree limbs, grass, twigs, mud plaster, clay tiles, and lath. If you did not mind getting your hands dirty, removing part of the roof was not difficult.


     I mentioned that that there was something special about the house. A few verses of Luke’s account reveal what I mean: “One 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. (18) Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. (19) When 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[5] into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.”[6]


     This was no ordinary Jewish house. In the late 1960s, we invited a guest speaker to bring a series of lessons at the Hollywood Church. One evening fewer people than we expected came for the service. When I opened the service, I stated that the crowd was smaller that night. Helen Pepperdine, widow of George Pepperdine, founder of the university, was among the visitors that evening. After the service, Mrs. Pepperdine, with her usual candor said: “Bob, you preachers are all alike. You call a group a “crowd when it really isn’t crowded. There is no such thing as a small crowd.” Mrs. Pepperdine was absolutely correct.


     But that house in Capernaum had a crowd: “They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem.” It was not S.R.O.; no standing room was left inside or outside near the door. It seems that several were seated and the religious VIPs took the best seats. Most people then lived in one room houses. Their houses were hardly larger than a single bedroom in many American homes. Then as now, people of higher income levels tended to live in bigger houses.


     You could not cram people from “every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem” into our house. But we have all seen houses that could accommodate large groups. That day in Capernaum, Jesus was in such a house telling his message to a bunch of folks.


     A paralyzed guy lived in Capernaum.

·         His friends heard that Jesus was in town so four of them carried him to Jesus.[7] 

·         They could not get through the crowds.

It’s difficult to walk through crowds, let alone carry someone through on a stretcher.

·         Jesus was inside the house so they lugged their friend to the roof, dug through it, and lowered him right into the middle of the crowd right front of Jesus

Imagine yourself as one of the four. Think of the ridicule and embarrassment if Jesus refused to help. You have carried him through town.

·         Gotten him up the stairs.

·         Dug through someone’s roof.

·         Strained to lower him several feet.

·         Worried about falling through the roof.

·         Risked having Jesus rebuke you.

·         Or hear him say, “Sorry, no more healings today.”


     Note Jesus’ response to their faith. The others had faith; not just the paraplegic:

Matthew,[8] Mark, and Luke all state: “When Jesus saw their faith . . .”

·         Saw the guy on the stretcher.

·         Saw their boldness.

·         If nothing else, note this fact:

The first thing Jesus said was, "Son, your sins are forgiven." No responsible person or honest person says that to another. Those who claim that authority are not dealing with truth. I am not authorized to say that to anyone.


     If you offend me, I can forgive you. But if you sin against God or another person, I have no authority to pardon you. No human being can or does. Any person who claims that authority is either a deceiver or is deluded. Because he is the Son of God, Jesus said it with conviction and certainty. Those religion experts knew what Jesus meant: "He can't talk that way! That's blasphemy! God and only God can forgive sins."

     That is what they were all thinking. “Only God can forgive sins.” Their brains were cooked and they had not used Colorado, Oregon, or “Cali” marijuana.


     Three truths are evident in what Jesus said and did:


      1.      Jesus spoke with God’s full authority by forgiving sin, and he showed superior power by reading their minds: “Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts.”


      2.      Some speculate about the relationship between sin and sickness. Is there a connection? Oftentimes, yes. People who drink too much often suffer liver problems, their capillaries and other organs are adversely affected.  


     John 5 tells of Jesus meeting another crippled guy: “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’"[9] If you’ll pardon the pun, the guy made a really lame excuse. “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ (9) At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. Though we don’t know what the guy had done, Jesus knew and warned him to stop doing wrong. “Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.’"


     We cannot assume there is a connection between a person’s illness and some sin that person may have committed.[10] Many totally innocent children become ill. We lack Jesus’ power and his authority to judge others. But God knows if there is a link, and usually the person knows, too.


     Let’s go back to the crippled guy in our text. Jesus showed his divine power by forgiving the man and then ordering him to walk. It was easy to tell the guy he was forgiven. Words are cheap. Every public speaker knows that.


     Jesus proved his power and authority and his words always became reality; they were never empty talk. He told the guy to get up, pick up his mat, and start walking.   

The former paralytic walked right out of there leaving the experts bamboozled. That leads us to the most important element in this text.


      3.      This man’s greatest need was not just physical healing; it was forgiveness. Many people are hampered in body and mind because they are not right with God.


     The numbers of people whose hearts are not right far exceed those born deformed or who develop some physical handicap. What do you think Jesus would say about you and your condition today? There is something far more important than being able to walk around your house, walk to your vehicle and walk in the mall. That is being able to walk the streets of heaven for eternity.


     Have you resolved all of your guilt by repenting (quitting wrongdoing) and being baptized for the remission of your sins so that you can enjoy God’s forgiveness in Christ? On the cross, Christ forgave all sin. We believe in him, repent of our sins, and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins, and then joyfully follow Christ.


     Do you recall what Ananias told the very repentant Saul of Tarsus, who had been remorseful and praying for three days? “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.”[11] John the Baptist insisted that people coming to him for immersion produce fruit worthy of repentance: stop cheating, do not overcharge, be content with your pay, and quit complaining.[12]


     One evening in Abilene, Texas, I was singing along with a few thousand others at the Abilene Christian University Lectures. It is a stirring experience when large groups praise together and you clearly hear all four parts-sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses. As the group sang a rousing hymn, I panned the audience and saw joy on many faces. But the happiest, most exuberant, inspiring person I witnessed was seated below me on the arena floor. Who was this guy who sang so vigorously so enthusiastically? I never knew his name or where he lived.


     But two things I will not forget:


     First was the joy on his face reflecting love for God, faith in God and hope in him; it is a rare sight.


     Second, that guy singing so buoyantly was curled and bent into a wheel chair.

His body had likely not been upright for years; I doubt he had ever walked.    

But he clearly looked forward to long walks in heaven with Jesus,

·         who came to this planet to bring him the Good News,

·         who died to forgive him,

·         and even conquered death for him.

And I am confident he believed this promise: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, (21) who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”[13]


     Whether aging related diseases ravage you, you suffer a congenital defect, or hurt from accidental injuries, God makes the same promises to you.


     If you believe in Jesus, Repent of your past sin and pride, Are baptized into Christ, and Faithfully follow him, the promise is yours:


     “By the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, (Jesus) will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”


[1] Matthew 8:20

[2] Jesus had to leave town for a while because of his fame as a healer made more intense because the leper Jesus healed did not obey Jesus’ order: “Don’t tell this to anyone.” See Mark 1: 44.

[3] In view of the explanations above, the KJV rendering “palsy” is probably not appropriate.  

[4] The gospel uses verb meaning to “bear.”

[5] The word translated “tiles” can also be understood as clay, the material from which tiles are made.

[6] Luke 5: 17-19

[7] The language indicates that there may have been others in the group encouraging and giving directions to the four.

[8] See Matthew 9:2

[9] See John 5:6-14 NIV)

[10] Jesus made that clear in John 9. There’s a man who was born blind.

(John 9:2, 3 NIV) His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

In the case of the blind man, his blindness had nothing to do with anyone’s sin.

[11] Acts 22:16 NIV

[12] Luke 3: 10-14; People in Ephesus quit reading astrology and magic books, which were probably also filled with pornography; see Acts 19:19

[13] Philippians 3:20 NIV “His glorious body” no doubt refers to Jesus’ resurrection body.



Bob Blair

PO Box176

Cleghorn, IA 51014




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