from WL Worcester (H Blackmer, ed.), 
The Sower.  Helps to the Study of the Bible in Home and Sunday School
(Boston: Massachusetts New-Church Union, n.d.)

Table of Contents


Lesson 3

Mark 1:1-12: Healing the Palsied Man

The Story


The Lord came back to Capernaum by the beautiful Sea of Galilee, for Capernaum was now His home. You remember that the people of Capernaum were very anxious to have the Lord stay with them, and now they soon learned that He had come back, and a great crowd gathered in the house, and about the door and porch.

If you had been looking out beyond the crowd you could have seen the people still coming, and among them a group of four men who seemed to be carrying something. And as they neared the house you would have seen that each of the four men had a corner of a sort of mat, and on the mat lay a poor sick man. His sickness was of such a kind that he could not move himself. But he and his four friends felt sure that if they could only bring him to the Lord He would heal him. When they came near the house they found the crowd so great about the door that they could not bring the sick man near the Lord. Still they were so anxious for the poor man to be made well, and so sure that the Lord could do it, that they would not give it up.

While you were still watching and wondering what they would do, you could have seen them go up the stairway, which was built on the outside of the house, and tear off the covering and make a hole down through the roof of the house right over where the Lord was, and then let down the sick man on his bed before the Lord and before all the people who were listening to Him. Can you think how surprised all the people must have been, and interested to see what would happen! And how eager and anxious the sick man and his friends must have been! And what the Lord said was, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee."

Now, there are three things that we have learned about the man who was sick of the palsy: his sickness, his desire to be made whole, and his faith that the Lord could heal him. We learn still another thing by the Lord's first words to him, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." We know from this that the poor man had done things that were wrong and that he was sorry; for the Lord can only forgive those who are sorry. And another thing we learn from the Lord's words: that the Lord knows the lives of all. "He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man." (John 2:24, 25)

But there were scribes sitting near the Lord who had not come because they loved Him or because they wanted to be helped or taught, but because they hoped to find some fault in what He said; and when He said, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee," they thought to themselves, "Who is this that forgives sins? Only God can do that." The Lord knew what they were thinking. He showed them His power by healing the palsied man; and it was also a sign to those who could understand it, that He had power to forgive sins. "They were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion."


Again the Lord was in Capernaum, and teaching in the house. We think of a flat-roofed building of perhaps two stories, built about a courtyard. The doors and windows of the house opened upon this court, and a gateway led to it from the street. Perhaps around the court there ran a porch or balcony shaded by a light roof under which the Lord was standing. Near Him "were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting," who had come from distant places, listening and watching sharply, ready to find fault and to blame the Lord. The court was full of eager people, and the gate-way which opened from the street; for "straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no not so much as about the door; and he preached the word unto them."

Word that the Lord was there reached the friends of a man sick of the palsy; and they came, four of them carrying the light couch or mat on which he lay. The palsy is paralysis, which means sometimes, and apparently in this case, entire helplessness, so that one cannot move hand or foot, and perhaps not even speak. They came near the house, but the crowd of people filled the court and the gate-way. Read what they did. (Verses 1-5) There were usually stairs on the outside of the house leading to the flat roof. And often the houses were so built that one could walk from roof to roof. The usual earthen roof is made by laying long level rafters; across these short, light sticks; on these brush; and on this a layer of mud rolled hard. On the roof lies a roller to repair it when it softens with rain or cracks in the sun. See Psalm 129:6. From the roof they could reach the lighter "tiling" or thatch over the balcony where we think of the Lord as standing. They uncovered it and let the sick man down before the Lord.

See them letting down the palsied man, the Pharisees sitting by, the crowd in the court below eagerly watching. The Lord spoke to the sick man, "and immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all." What had the Lord said to the sick man? They who sat near heard Him. Read verses 5-12. The poor man's body was helpless, and the Lord pitied its suffering; but this helplessness was the more sad to the Lord because it pictured a helpless state of mind, when one is utterly discouraged by the sense that he is evil, and feels as if there were no help for him. The Lord pities still more this discouraged state of mind, and the first words He spoke when the sick man was let down before Him were, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee." (Matthew 9:2) No doubt the sick man needed this encouragement; but the Lord said it for all discouraged people, and because those about Him knew so little of their spiritual troubles and the great spiritual blessings which the Lord would give, He showed them His kindness and power in a way they could understand. "Arise," He said, "and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house."

1. "Again he entered into Capernaum": where had the

Lord been?

2. What is palsy? How was one sick of the palsy brought to the Lord?

3. What did the Lord say to him?

4. What does it mean, that a sin is forgiven?

Spiritual Study


What does it mean, to have a sin forgiven? To be allowed to go without punishment is not forgiveness. But if I am really sorry for what I have done, and want to do better, and my father sees that I do, and gives me a kiss which shows that he loves me and will help me, and gives me courage to try again - this is being forgiven. The Lord is really the Father against whom we sin when we do wrong. When we are really sorry and anxious to do better, the Lord helps us to begin again, and gives us His protection from the wrong. This is real forgiveness - strength to leave the past and to do better, which the Lord alone can give.

Suppose as long as we live on earth we cling to some evil thing, are not sorry for it, at least not enough so to let the Lord help us to do better, shall we wish to let Him help us in the other world? Notice that it says, "hath power on earth to forgive sins." (P. 277 end) But here and now the Lord can forgive - can protect us from wrong that we are sorry for, and give us strength to do better. We must never throw ourselves down discouraged and think there is no help for us. The Lord hath power to forgive. But the Lord knew that we should sometimes be discouraged and think we could not do better. He thought of all of us and our despair when the man sick of the palsy lay helpless before Him. He spoke to us as well as to him: "Son, be of good cheer." It was for a sign to give us courage to ask and receive His help, when He showed His love and power by giving the sick man strength to rise and go to his house.

Taking the sick man to the housetop to reach the Lord shows the earnestness of the desire for help; but more. Our house spiritually is the state of mind in which we habitually are; or the states of mind, for we have several when variously employed, which are like the rooms of our house. There are more worldly, external states, the lower rooms; and interior states, near to the Lord. Such are represented by the "large upper room" of the Passover (Luke 22:8-12); the "housetop" where we find safety in troubled times (Matthew 24:17); the closet with closed doors where we find the Lord in prayer. (Matthew 6:6) The housetop is the state of inmost affection, of most earnest desire. They reached the Lord from the housetop when there was no other way: "Ye shall find Me when ye shall seek for Me with all your heart." (A. 3142, 5694, 7353)

to next Lesson