Bible Lessons for the Little Ones

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
WHEN the ship, in which the Lord Jesus and His disciples were crossing the lake, touched at the other side, they landed and came to the city of Capernaum. This is called Christ's "own city," for He was much there, and many of His works of love and power were done among the people of that place. We have just been reading of one of those mighty works which are called miracles.
If we try to make a picture in our minds of how it all happened, we must first remember what I am sure some of you have often been told, the difference between the Eastern houses, with their flat roofs, with steps outside, by which people could get upon the roof without going into the house, and the houses of this country.
What was the Lord Jesus doing when the sick man was brought to Him? We know from those verses which you have just read in the gospel of Luke that He was in a house—some people have thought that it was Peter's house— teaching. Not long before, in the synagogue of Nazareth, where He had been brought up, the Lord had read some beautiful words which God had given to His prophet Isaiah to write about His Son when He should have come to this world. You can find the account of this in the fourth chapter of Luke. The words which Christ read aloud that day begin in this way: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor." This was what He was doing on that day in Capernaum; and so many poor people had come to listen, that not only the house was crowded, so that there was not room for one person more, but the courtyard was full of people, and even the gateway leading to the street was blocked up by the crowd. People were there from all the country round, and among them some learned men, Pharisees and doctors of the law, who had heard the Lord speak in Jerusalem. What a beautiful word is said about this crowd of people—"the power of the Lord was present to heal them.”
There is a verse which you may remember in that hundred and third Psalm which so many children have learned— that Psalm beginning, "Bless the Lord, O my soul"— which says, "who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases." This is true of God, and it was true of the Lord Jesus now that He was come a Man upon earth.
We can imagine that there was a good deal of confusion when the four men came, carrying their helpless burden. If a person is only partly paralyzed, that part of him becomes unable to move of itself; with this poor man his illness was so great that he could not move at all; he could do nothing to help himself, nothing to bring himself any nearer to Jesus; he could only lie on his mattress—the sort of bed which poor people have in that country—and allow his friends, two at the head and two at the feet, to carry him. Have you ever thought how sad he must have felt when he had come to the place where Jesus was, the place where the power of the Lord was present to heal, and then found there was no way to Him?
We do not read that he said anything; perhaps his power to speak was gone; but we read a very beautiful thing about those four men who carried him. They knew that no one could cure him but Christ; they were quite sure that the power of God was there; and so they were not discouraged by all the crowd; they felt they must get to Jesus any way.
I think it would have been kind if some of those who stood about the door had made room for them to pass; but sometimes it happens in a great crowd that people can hardly move without making things worse. All we know is, that the four men carried their helpless burden up to the roof, and then tore up some of the covering-not slates or tiles, but something much lighter-and let the sick man down just in front of the Lord Jesus.
Then, looking up, and seeing the poor man on his mattress coming down, the crowd made way, and the man suddenly found himself the nearest of all to the Lord; all the hindrances gone. Jesus knew all about it; He had seen the faith of those who would let no difficulty stop them; and now He spoke to the poor man, as he lay at His feet, The Lord said, "Child, thy sins are forgiven thee." Was not this just what that verse of the Psalm said—"Who forgiveth all thine iniquities"? Sin is more terrible than any disease, and Christ cured the worst thing first.
How dreadful to think that even as those wonderful words were spoken to the sick man there were some in that house at Capernaum who had wrong thoughts about Him who spoke them. The scribes from Jerusalem did not speak aloud, but they thought in their hearts, as they had said before at Jerusalem, when they had heard Him speak to another helpless man, that He was making Himself "equal with God.”
The Lord Jesus, "seeing their thoughts" —and none but God could do that-asked them why they "thought evil things in their hearts." And then He said to this poor man, who could not even stretch out his hand, the very words which He had spoken to the "impotent man" at the Pool of Bethesda, and bade him rise, take up his bed, and walk.
Those who had heard Him say, "Thy sins are forgiven," had seen no change come to the man, for God only can look at the heart; but they now saw him, at the word of Christ, immediately arise and go to his house, glorifying God. No wonder that the crowds were astonished, as they, too, glorified God, saying, "We have seen strange things to-day. We never saw it on this fashion.”