Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Second Exodus, Part 7.

As we saw in our last study the second exodus would also be a time of God’s great healing thought the anticipated Messiah. Isaiah 35:5-6 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert.

There is another dramatic event, that is the fulfillment of Bible prophecy and is told in (Mark 2:1-12). This is also one of the funniest stories in scripture. This story actually took place a few days after Jesus had touched a man who had leprosy and was healed. (Matthew 8:1-4)

Jesus was going from town to town performing miracles and everyone wanted to see Him. People were excited whenever they heard that Jesus was in their area because they had heard about the miracle and know someone who needed to be healed.

Jesus was in a house in the town of Capernaum and so many people came that there was no room left, not even outside the door. You can imagine all the people that hard about the miracles of healing that Jesus performed and were squeezed together to see Him. And there were people gathered outside of the house to see and hear Jesus when he came out.

This is where Mark tells us things get interesting. There were four men who heard that Jesus was in town who decided to carry their paralyzed friend on a mat to see if he could be healed. As soon as they got to the house where Jesus was, they realized that they would not be able to get through the crowd of people to see Jesus.

Someone had an idea and thought of another way into the house. If they could get up on the roof, they could remove a part of the roof and make a hole above the crowd. That is just what they did.
It is important to understand the first century historical setting surrounding this house. Historical background information is helpful and very important when interpreting scripture.

A first century home in Palestine had a flat roof composed of large stone tiles which were easy to remove and easy to replace. The stone tiles were sometimes covered with dirt for insulation purposes. So there was no need to rip up plywood and beams in order to make a sizable opening in the roof! There was no need for anyone to run to a home depot locations later. The roof was not destroyed or damaged only temporarily opened up.

A first century home also had an outside staircase up to the flat roof. This enabled the four men to carry their paralytic friend and his bed up to the rooftop without dropping him and employing an elaborate block and tackle system! The roof served as an extra room or a place to relax in the cool of the evening. The flat top roof style of architecture is a part of ancient Jerusalem.

The "bed," of course, was not a mattress from a mattress giant store with heavy inner spring but a lightweight pallet like pad. Thus the hole in the roof was not gigantic in size! They attached ropes to the bed on which their friend was lying and slowly lowered him down into the room, right in front of Jesus!

Listening carefully to what Jesus said when all of a sudden someone is coming from above Him. There probably was little pieces of stone ceiling falling and everyone stops and looks up to see what's going on. But this did not upset Jesus. The first thing Jesus said when He saw that they believed was, "Son, your sins are forgiven." This statement probably surprised the man he came to Jesus expecting to walk.

However, Jesus knew what this man needed most. Jesus knew that being paralyzed would be difficult, but it was even worse not to be forgiven. Some of the teacher's of the law heard Jesus, forgive the man and they began thinking, "How dare this man forgive sins, only God can do that." Immediately Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to them, "Why are you thinking these things?"

Jesus also asked them, "Which was easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your bed and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." So to prove to them that he could forgive sins, He said, "Take up your bed and walk." And the man who had been unable to move, stood up and walked. Everyone could see what had happened as a result of Jesus' words.

Jesus was trying to get through to the teachers of the law and tell them that He was the Son of Man, and God has given him the power to forgive sins and heal people. These things could not be done by just a regular person but only by God. It is here that we need to again understand the Jewish mind-set of that day. Physical abnormalities and sickness were sometimes at the judgment of God for serious past sin. As in the case when Mirian became a leper for sinning (Please read Numbers 12:116).

Even the disciples were familiar with this. They asked the Jesus about the blind man in John 9:2, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?" While the Lord corrected their thinking in the case of the blind man, it is true that some physical problems in those days were the direct result of sin. Consider Jesus statement to the healed paralytic in John 5:14, for example: "Behold, you have become well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may befall you." The implication is quite clear here that something worse could happen if he sinned.

The fact that Jesus told the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven" and the paralytic actually did pick up his bed and walk not only caused the crowd to marvel and give glory to God; it blew away and destroyed any argument from the onlooking skeptics concerning the ability of Jesus to back up His claim. The ability to forgive the man's sins. Since only God could forgive sins, what other conclusion could they draw about Jesus? It was quite clear that Jesus had the ability to forgive sins and was in control of supernatural power because the paralytic now walked.

The obvious answer to the Lord's question concerning which was easier to say, "Your sins are forgiven" or "Take up your bed and walk," answered the questions of the skeptics. Only God can forgive sin. Only one whose sins are forgiven such as paralytic was able to take up his bed and walk.

It's hard to miss the picture of salvation from sin in the healing of the paralyzed man. The ball was certainly now in the court of the teacher's of the laws.

It is also interesting to notice that the Jesus did not heal the man in bed, but rather commanded him to take up his own bed and walk! With the command came the strength and faith to obey. Jesus not only notice of the faith of the paralyzed man; He also noticed the faith of his four friends. And God honored that faith.

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. Psalm 103:2-3 (NIV)