The quartet of young men, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, lived in Capernaum (Mark 1:16-21, 29), where they were partners in a fishing enterprise on the Sea of Galilee (Luke 5:10). Capernaum, on the northwestern shores of the Sea of Galilee wasn’t a major metropolis nor a tiny fishing village. Located on a busy Roman highway reaching north to Syria, it was a moderately-sized trade center for the agricultural and fishing industries in Galilee. The Romans had strategically positioned a garrison of soldiers in Capernaum (Matthew 8:5), and Matthew’s tax office was located there on a conspicuous corner (Matthew 9:9).
Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would “bring honor to the way of the sea … and to Galilee of the nations” (Isaiah 9:2). Jesus fulfilled that prediction when “He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea” (Matthew 4:13). From this important homebase, Jesus proclaimed the Gospel. “The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:13–16; Isaiah 9:1-2).
Early in Jesus’ earthly ministry, He healed Peter’s mother-in-law at the family home in Capernaum (Mark 1:30-31). Later that evening, “after the sun had set, they brought to him all those who were sick and demon-possessed. The whole town was assembled at the door, and he healed many who were sick with various diseases and drove out many demons” (Mark 1:32–34).
The news of Jesus’ miraculous power spread quickly. “When he entered Capernaum again after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many people gathered together that there was no more room, not even in the doorway” (Mark 2:1–2). Crowds! Throngs! Multitudes “from every village of Galilee and Judea, and also from Jerusalem” (Luke 5:17). They all wanted to see and hear!
The fishermen weren’t the only foursome in Capernaum. Another four buddies, unknown and unnamed, brought a friend to Jesus. The friend, the fifth man, was a paraplegic. Had he been paralyzed in an industrial accident? Was a cruel disease at fault? Scripture is silent, but the result is apparent. He’s pitiful. Helpless. Hopeless.
Upon arrival, they saw the crowd, packed like sardines in a can. Some were jammed into the doorway. Others leaned in through the little windows. There was no way in. “Since they could not find a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof” (Luke 5:19). Undeterred by the obstacles, resolute in their mission, they dug a hole in the roof, tied ropes to the four corners of the stretcher, and carefully lowered their friend into the gawking crowd. By the way, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, were likely present. The four friends watched the four friends.
With dust and dirt raining from above, Jesus saw “their faith” (Mark 2:5), the faith of the four, and then spoke to the helpless man that lay before Him. Jesus compassionately forgave his sin and then restored his strength and health. “Immediately he got up before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. Then everyone was astounded, and they were giving glory to God” (Luke 5:25-26). “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:12) they said, as they watched the fifth man skip, jump, and dance out of the little house…