Authority Over Sin
Jesus returns to Capernaum as his popularity, and his reputation spread throughout the region. When the word begins to spread that Jesus has returned home, the people gather in droves until there is no room left in the house. The people intently listen as Jesus preaches the word. Four men arrive at the house carrying a person with paralysis. There is no indication as to where they are from or how they heard that Jesus was in Capernaum. The crowd prevents them from getting to Jesus, and so they carry the paralytic to the roof and begin to destroy the roof on the house. After the four men had made an opening in the roof that was large enough, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. Imagine the confusion and disbelief of the crowd as they witness these events unfold. The crowd waits to see what Jesus will do for this paralytic as do his friends above them on the roof. Jesus saw their faith, and he announces that the sins of the paralytic are forgiven. The religious leaders in the crowd are disturbed internally and wonder how Jesus could even say such a thing because only God can forgive sin. The reasoning of these leaders is correct, the problem is that they do not understand that Jesus is God. Jesus perceives their thoughts and asks if it is easier to heal the man or forgive his sins? Jesus declares his authority to forgive sins and to authenticate his authority; he tells the paralytic to rise, pick up his bed, and walk. The man rose to his feet and walked out in front of the crowd. The crowd is amazed, and they glorify God because they have never witnessed anything like this.
Battle Over Authority
Jesus walks beside the Sea of Galilee again as the crowds gather around to listen to his teaching. As he walks along the water's edge, he sees Levi, a tax collector, sitting at the tax booth and in an unprecedented move, he calls him to follow. Levi immediately gets up and follows Jesus. The crowd makes its way to a house where Jesus shares a meal with his disciples, some tax collectors, and sinners. The religious leaders look at the scene confused and upset by Jesus' behavior. They question Jesus' disciples about why Jesus would do such a thing because no self-respecting Jewish leader would be caught dead eating with this sort of crowd. Jesus heard their question and responded by explaining that those who are well do not need a doctor. The ones who are sick need a doctor. Jesus did not come to call the righteous; he came to call sinners to repentance and faith which is why he dines with his present company. Jesus is also approached and questioned about why his disciples do not fast like the Pharisees and John's disciples. Jesus explains that this is not the time for his disciples to fast because they have the bridegroom with them, but the time will come when he is taken away, and they will fast. Jesus wants the people to understand that the Kingdom of God is at hand and the traditions of man would not usher people into the kingdom. On a Sabbath, Jesus and his disciples were walking through the grain fields, and his disciples began to pluck some heads of grain. The Pharisees accuse Jesus' disciples of violating the Sabbath laws. Jesus directs their attention to a precedent in the scripture. The account he refers to occurred when David and his men were on the run. They fugitives, hungry, and running from Saul. In their desperation, they entered the house of God and ate the holy bread from the Tabernacle. Jesus was not dismissing the Sabbath; he was challenging the rabbinic traditions that the Pharisees had added to the law. Jesus asserts his authority again declaring that he is Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus was, in essence, saying, "I am God."
Things To Consider:
- What can be learned from the four men who brought the paralytic to Jesus?
- Why is faith necessary for healing?
- How does Jesus forgive sins?
- What are ways that you struggle with Jesus' authority?
- How does one understand that they are sin sick?
- What are ways that we create laws?
- Why are traditions sometimes dangerous?
- Why are traditions sometimes helpful?
- Why must we look to scripture as an authority?