2. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there
was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door--This
is one of Mark's graphic touches. No doubt in this case, as the scene
occurred at his informant's own door, these details are the vivid
recollections of that honored disciple.
and he preached the word unto them--that is, indoors; but in the hearing, doubtless, of the multitude that pressed around. Had He gone forth, as He naturally would, the paralytic's faith would have had no such opportunity to display itself. Luke (Lu 5:17) furnishes an additional and very important incident in the scene--as follows: "And it came to pass on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town," or village, "of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem." This was the highest testimony yet borne to our Lord's growing influence, and the necessity increasingly felt by the ecclesiastics throughout the country of coming to some definite judgment regarding Him. "And the power of the Lord was [present] to heal them"--or, "was [efficacious] to heal them," that is, the sick that were brought before Him. So that the miracle that is now to be described was among the most glorious and worthy to be recorded of many then performed; and what made it so was doubtless the faith which was manifested in connection with it, and the proclamation of the forgiveness of the patient's sins that immediately preceded it.
3. And they come unto him--that is, towards the house where He was.
bringing one sick of the palsy--"lying on a bed" (Mt 9:2).
which was borne of four--a graphic particular of Mark only.
4. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press--or, as
"when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because
of the multitude," they "went upon the housetop"--the flat or
terrace-roof, universal in Eastern houses.
they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed--or portable couch
wherein the sick of the palsy lay--Luke (Lu 5:19) says, they "let him down through the tilling with his couch into the midst before Jesus." Their whole object was to bring the patient into the presence of Jesus; and this not being possible in the ordinary way, because of the multitude that surrounded Him, they took the very unusual method here described of accomplishing their object, and succeeded. Several explanations have been given of the way in which this was done; but unless we knew the precise plan of the house, and the part of it from which Jesus taught--which may have been a quadrangle or open court, within the buildings of which Peter's house was one, or a gallery covered by a veranda--it is impossible to determine precisely how the thing was done. One thing, however, is clear, that we have both the accounts from an eye-witness.
5. When Jesus saw their faith--It is remarkable that all the three
narratives call it "their faith" which Jesus saw. That the patient
himself had faith, we know from the proclamation of his forgiveness,
which Jesus made before all; and we should have been apt to conclude
that his four friends bore him to Jesus merely out of benevolent
compliance with the urgent entreaties of the poor sufferer. But here we
learn, not only that his bearers had the same faith with himself, but
that Jesus marked it as a faith which was not to be defeated--a faith
victorious over all difficulties. This was the faith for which He was
ever on the watch, and which He never saw without marking, and, in those
who needed anything from Him, richly rewarding.
he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son--"be of good cheer" (Mt 9:2).
thy sins be forgiven thee--By the word "be," our translators perhaps meant "are," as in Luke (Lu 5:20). For it is not a command to his sins to depart, but an authoritative proclamation of the man's pardoned state as a believer. And yet, as the Pharisees understood our Lord to be dispensing pardon by this saying, and Jesus not only acknowledges that they were right, but founds His whole argument upon the correctness of it, we must regard the saying as a royal proclamation of the man's forgiveness by Him to whom it belonged to dispense it; nor could such a style of address be justified on any lower supposition. (See on Lu 7:41, &c.).
6. But there were certain of the scribes--"and the Pharisees"
sitting there--those Jewish ecclesiastics who, as Luke told us (Lu 5:17), "were come out of every village of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem," to make their observations upon this wonderful Person, in anything but a teachable spirit, though as yet their venomous and murderous feeling had not showed itself.
and reasoning in their hearts.
7. Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?--In this second question they expressed a great truth. (See Isa 43:25; Mic 7:18; Ex 34:6, 7, &c.). Nor was their first question altogether unnatural, though in our Lord's sole case it was unfounded. That a man, to all appearances like one of themselves, should claim authority and power to forgive sins, they could not, on the first blush of it, but regard as in the last degree startling; nor were they entitled even to weigh such a claim, as worthy of a hearing, save on supposition of resistless evidence afforded by Him in support of the claim. Accordingly, our Lord deals with them as men entitled to such evidence, and supplies it; at the same time chiding them for rashness, in drawing harsh conclusions regarding Himself.
8. Why reason ye these things in your hearts--or, as in Matthew, (Mt 9:4) "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?"
9. Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be
forgiven thee--or "are forgiven thee";
or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed and walk?--"Is it easier to command away disease than to bid away sin? If, then, I do the one which you can see, know thus that I have done the other, which you cannot see."
10. But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to
forgive sins--that forgiving power dwells in the Person of this Man,
and is exercised by Him while on this earth and going out and in with
(he saith to the sick of the palsy),
11. I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house--This taking up the portable couch, and walking home with it, was designed to prove the completeness of the cure.
12. And immediately he arose, took up the bed--"Sweet saying!" says
BENGEL: "The bed had borne the man: now the man bore the bed."
and went forth before them all--proclaiming by that act to the multitude, whose wondering eyes would follow him as he pressed through them, that He who could work such a glorious miracle of healing, must indeed "have power on earth to forgive sins."
We never saw it on this fashion--"never saw it thus," or, as we say, "never saw the like." In Luke (Lu 5:26) it is, "We have seen strange [unexpected] things to-day"--referring both to the miracles wrought and the forgiveness of sins pronounced by Human Lips. In Matthew (Mt 9:8) it is, "They marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men." At forgiving power they wondered not, but that a man, to all appearance like one of themselves, should possess it!
See on Mt 9:9-13.
See on Lu 5:33-39.
See on Mt 12:1-8.