First, the paralyzed man’s four friends must have discussed among themselves what to do when they heard that Jesus was back in town. Somebody came up with the idea to take him to Jesus, and it may well have been the paralyzed man himself. If not, he certainly had to at least agree with the plan of his four friends. So they picked him up on a pallet and headed towards the house where Jesus was teaching. All five had faith.
When they arrived, however, every door and window was blocked with people. I wonder why they didn’t just wait for Jesus to exit at the conclusion of the meeting. Perhaps they were afraid that Jesus, who was definitely in an elusive mode, might elude them! I also wonder why they didn’t attempt to persuade people to move out from the doorway to let them through. Perhaps they did, but no one was willing to give up his spot. If so, it may have just fueled their determination. I suspect that one of the four was the owner of the house, since only he would have had the right to destroy the roof of the house.
So they carried their paralyzed friend up on the roof—which would have been flat—probably by means of an outside stairway. The exterior roof of the house would have been the same as the interior ceiling, constructed of hardened clay and supported by timber rafters. Thus, Mark wrote that the four men had to “dig” an opening (2:4).
Digging an opening was not something that would have gone unnoticed inside. There would have been pounding and digging sounds reverberating through the house and pieces of clay falling from the ceiling. Dust would have begun to fill the air. Eventually the men would have broken through, and a shaft of light would have pierced the room. And how long might it have taken them to dig an opening large enough to accommodate a full-grown man lying horizontally?
I can’t imagine that some folks on the inside didn’t vocalize their disapproval, particularly as the interior atmosphere filled with dust. And since the opening that the four men dug was directly over Jesus, I can’t help but wonder if Jesus was able to continue His sermon in light of the distraction above Him. There is no record, of course, of Him shouting up through the ever-widening whole, “Hey, can’t you see you are disrupting our meeting and filling our lungs with dust?” Personally, I just imagine Him stepping back, folding His arms, and leaning up against a wall with a big smile on His face, as He enjoyed observing faith in action.
Eventually, there was a large opening in the ceiling above Him, and four faith-filled faces were peering over the edges. They were right on target! After more commotion on the roof, the opening suddenly darkened, and slowly, by means of four ropes, a paralyzed man on a pallet was lowered into the room—not an easy feat to accomplish without dumping the man off the pallet. One mistake, and he may have ended up even more paralyzed!
But finally, after what must have been at least a half-hour distraction, there was a man lying in front of Jesus. His faith was evident. Jesus assured him that his sins were forgiven (perfectly playing the part of God), and then told the man to get up. He could have responded, “I’d love to, but I’m paralyzed,” but he acted on his faith and found that he was able to do the impossible.
Wow, what a story! What can we learn? Primarily this: Believers aren’t quitters. So don’t quit!
Mark, like Matthew, also highlights the scribes’ and Pharisees’ growing animosity towards Jesus, who was not the least bit enthusiastic about their traditions which had no basis in God’s Word. They were like old, inflexible leather wineskins—unfit for the truth that bubbles like fermenting new wine inside those of us who believe! It makes us feel good on the inside and happy on the outside!