The room was filled as Jesus was teaching in Capernaum in a home that was very likely Simon Peter’s. Most homes were one or two rooms, with a flat roof made of straw and clay sturdy enough to walk on. It served as an under-the-stars outdoor sleeping area when it was warm enough. Steps to the roof were often part of the design.
Below, a crowded room of fifty people or more squeezed together like sardines in a can. There was no room in the doorway, and people were listening outside the windows as Jesus captivated them with His words of life and truth. Several Sadducees were seated in the crowd. As Jesus’s popularity was growing and becoming more of a threat to them, they were curiously intrigued and challenged to find errors in His teaching. Their religious, critical, intellectualistic spirits were constantly looking for any offense to accuse Him of.
As recorded in Mark 2:1-12 (NLT), the account is extraordinary, and I encourage reading it. To summarize, a small group of five people didn’t quite make it to the meeting in time for the opening remarks and announcements. They’d brought their lame friend to hear Jesus, and as the man lay on a mat, they carried him up the steps to the roof. The only way to bring him directly into the Lord’s presence would require making a hole in the roof, so they broke up the dried clay and straw pieces until a hole large enough to lower their paralyzed friend was cleared.
The debris falling on the people below was undoubtedly alarming, and as the man was lowered through the roof, imagine the commotion it stirred in the crowd. There wasn’t a vaulted ceiling, but as the paraplegic descended into the crowd on his mat, this was a first in Jesus’ ministry. Demoniacs in graveyards, demonized pigs sailing over a cliff into water, people pulling at the Lord’s garments, lepers uncovering their disfigured limbs—so many bizarrely unusual circumstances occurred as Jesus taught and ministered. But this is the first record of someone dropping into His midst from a roof.
Jesus notices everything, both then and now. As the disabled man was lowered through the roof, the faith of the man and his four friends was so apparent to the Lord that He immediately responded. Jesus was likely mid-sentence in a profound nugget of truth, but as the man landed in front of Him and the Lord saw his faith, He said, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” Then He added (much to the dismay of the Sadducees), "Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!" So he did. Healed. Cleansed. Forgiven. Free. And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, "We've never seen anything like this before!"
Jesus was always ready for interruptions and wholly unnerved by them. We’re not told if He continued teaching that day, but an obvious lesson spontaneously occurred as the disabled man first jumped and then walked among the crowd. Without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him, Hebrews 11:16 declares. His reward was immediate, and Jesus knew the key to unlocking the reward.
Cause and effect is a relationship between events or things, where one results from the other. Jesus understood the root of the disabled man’s disease. It was sin. Notice that He did not just tell the man to get up, pick up his bed and walk. Jesus addressed the man’s sin first: “My child, your sins are forgiven.” When sin was off the grid, healing happened immediately. Matthew Henry points out that, He [Jesus] could not have cured the disease, which was the effect if he could not have taken away the sin, which was the cause. And besides, his curing diseases was a figure of his pardoning sin, for sin is the disease of the soul; when it is pardoned, it is healed (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible).
There are many causes of sickness, and sin is not always the root. The Lord takes notice when we express faith in His ability to heal and help us. Faith is like His love language; it’s what gets His attention and triggers a response—precisely, rewards. Trusting the Lord to help us during sickness is an expression of faith that rests in the fact that He knows the cause, effect, and cure. He welcomes our interruptions as we come to Him broken, wounded, sick, and in need. Don’t be afraid to drop down right in front of Jesus with your need, and if your level of faith seems deficient, He tells us in Matthew 17:20 (NLT), “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
© 2022, Chris Werre