He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t work. He was utterly helpless, paralyzed from his midsection to the tip of his toes.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke each record his story, but none of them give us much detail about his handicap (Matthew 9:1–8, Mark 2:1-12, Luke 5:17–26). Was his ailment caused by a recent accident or had his condition been life-long? Were his muscles still strong, or had they atrophied, making him a ghastly skeleton draped with skin.
We don’t know the details, so let’s imagine.
Maybe the unnamed man was a brick mason who had fallen from his scaffolding… maybe. Landing hard on the stones below, the hardworking laborer had crushed vertebrae and broken bones. His companions had carried him home, laid him on a thin mattress, and wished him well. There was nothing more to be done.
His wife did all she could to ease his discomfort. She bathed and bandaged his bleeding wounds. She fed him, consoled him, and encouraged him with loving, hopeful words. She worried about her husband, about the kids, and she worried about how they would pay the bills.
As he lay on his mat, he replayed and second-guessed his misstep and fall. He remembered the agonizing impact, the excruciating pain. Now, he felt nothing. Looking at his feet, he longed to feel them move, but alas, he was paralyzed. He was helpless. Hopeless!
Peter and Andrew lived around the corner, on Capernaum’s south side, near the Sea of Galilee. The fishermen had abandoned their boats and business to follow Jesus, a new rabbi from Nazareth. The guys from the construction business all knew Peter and his brother and had been watching and listening to the news about Jesus’ remarkable powers. Jesus had healed Peter’s sick mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31). Afterward, “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).
Believing that Jesus had the power to heal and restore, the quartet of construction-workers, friends of the paralyzed man, went to his house, picked up the corners of his pallet, and carried him to the home where Jesus was teaching.
Arriving at the house, probably Peter’s home, they found it packed with people. They couldn’t get through the door or the window, so they climbed the steep steps to the rooftop, carefully hefting and heaving their broken buddy.
On the roof they began to dig away the roof material, the only barrier between themselves and a miracle. Scratching and clawing, they opened a hole, just big enough to allow them to lower their friend to Jesus.
With the man and his stretcher safely on the floor before Him, Jesus looked up to where four sets of eyeballs were focused downward. Jesus, recognizing their genuine faithfulness, turned to the man laying before Him. “Son, your sins are forgiven… get up, take your mat, and go home” (Mark 2:5, 11).
Did the broken man do anything to deserve Jesus’ restorative grace? Nope… but neither did we!