And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.…
I. THIS MIRACLE IS A PARABLE.
1. Of Divine power and love.
2. Of human faith.
II. CONSIDER THE PARALYTIC'S PRAYER. It was a wonderful prayer — so brief, so comprehensive, so affecting, so complete; stating the whole case, setting it forth in every particular, detailing every symptom of the malady, urging every argument of sympathy, calling for exactly the comfort and help that were required; — such was the prayer offered by the sick of the palsy, as his couch with its half-dead burden dropped on the ground at the feet of the Christ. What then did he say? Not one word! The silence which this strange intruder brought with him into the school of Christ was broken only by the voice of the Son of Man Himself — "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee." He had told his story well. There was a dead and leaden limb hanging to a half-lifeless trunk. There was a hand shaking with the helpless tremor of the nerves that could do little more than tremble. There were the lips drooling and mowing, and the tongue lolling with a look like idiocy within the gate of speech, and the eyes, last refuge of the blockaded intellect, looking with longings that cannot be uttered toward Him who is the Life. And now do you ask. What did he may? Rather, What did he leave unsaid? It was an unspoken prayer, but not a prayer unuttered or unexpressed. I find, in the very nature of this sick man's malady, some instructive indications as to what is the prayer of faith, and what is faith that gives prevailing power to prayer. It is not without significance that so large aproportion of our Lord's miracles of healing were wrought on the blind and the palsied — the sufferers from those two forms of human infirmity which most discipline one to a sense of his own helplessness and need, and most educate him in the habit of confiding in the strength and wisdom and faithfulness of another. And as I meditate of blindness and palsy, I better understand the darkness and impotency of sis, and what is that faith by which we should commit ourselves to the infinite wisdom, love, and power of God.
III. CONSIDER THE ANSWER WHICH THE PALSIED MAN RECEIVED TO HIS PRAYER. If it seemed at first, to any, that he had uttered no prayer at all, such will surely think at first that he received no answer at all. Very commonly this is true, in the Gospels, of the Lord's response to those who come to Him. "Jesus answered and said," we read; but the answer has no obvious relevency to what was asked (John 3:1-3). He answers, not the words, but what lay in the heart, behind the words. In such wise He answers the prayer of the palsied — a prayer that says, plainer than any words can say it, "Lord, that I might be healed." It seems no answer at all — "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee." There seems to be some untold story here. There is more than palsy — there is sin; if not an anxious face, at least a troubled conscience. And there is a keen diagnosis on the part of the Great Healer, going deeper than the surface symptoms, reaching to the inmost roots of the trouble. And His answer is given accordingly. Observe in it —
1. That the paralytic received the substance, though not the form, of what he had asked, to his entire satisfaction. For a similar case, see 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Did the features of the paralytic, think you, betray to the gazing and murmuring scribes some sign of disappointment or discontent, when those majestic words were spoken down to him — "Thy sins be forgiven thee"? Is it ever those who cry mightily to God, who are found complaining that He is slack concerning His promises? And if not, then who are you that are finding fault — making bold to come between the saint and his Saviour, to complain that the covenant is not fully performed? If Christ is satisfied, and the suppliant soul is satisfied, who are we that we should interfere to measure the prayer against the answer, and remonstrate with the Lord that His ways are unequal. Nay, I take you all to witness —
2. That this petitioner received more than the equivalent of what he had asked, by as much as it is a greater thing to suffer and be happy and joyful in the midst of suffering, than it is not to suffer at all. Many a sick man has implored the Lord for health and strength, and won a blessing greater than he asked, in learning "how sublime a thing it is to suffer and be strong." Many a bankrupt man, that had struggled, with anxious calculations and many an earnest petition, for deliverance from accumulating troubles, and seemed to find no answer from God, has been rewarded at last with the heavenly gift of grace to step majestically down from wealth to poverty, and has found a joy in low estate beyond what wealth could ever give.
3. But now observe, finally, that when he had received the equivalent of his prayer, to his full content; and when he had received "exceeding abundantly above what he had asked"; at last, this palsied man was given the identical thing which he had asked. Not for his sake — no, he did not ask it now. He was of good cheer — his sins were forgiven him. So far as appears, he was full of exceeding peace and content, craving nothing more, but wholly satisfied, the rest of his appointed time, to lie a helpless infant in the everlasting arms. No, it was not for his sake, but "that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power," &c. For now the palsy had accomplished its work and could be spared. It had brought the sufferer, and laid him low and helpless at the feet of Jesus to receive the forgiveness of his sins, and what more could it do for him? The time was come, at last, when it might be dismissed, but not till now. And Christ is not so unkind as to give healing so long as suffering is still needed. He is not less merciful than the Father, as He is not more merciful. Would you dare to ask that your grief, your pain, your burden should be taken away before its work was done? Could you bring your mind to wish that all these past hours, and days, and weeks, and weary months of suffering should have been in vain; and that God should call back these stern but kindly servants of His, while yet their mission was incomplete, and bid them Let him alone I sorrow is wasted on him I he is joined to his idols; let him alone? But now, the sick of the palsy is forgiven and at peace. The sickness has well fulfilled its painful but beneficent ministry, and He who is Lord over all the powers of life and death, that saith to this one, Come, and he cometh, and to another,! Go, and he goeth, may call away this sad-faced angel, and send him back to where, before the throne, they "stand and wait" for some new bidding upon messages of love.
(Leonard W. Bacon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.