Scripture Reference: Mark 2:1-12
Suggested Emphasis: Good friends help us follow God.
A man who could not walk wanted to be healed by Jesus. When the man’s friends carried him to the house where Jesus was staying, they found the house to be packed with people wanting to hear Jesus and be healed by him. The friends climbed up an outside staircase and dug a hole through the roof. They lowered their friend down to the place where Jesus was. Jesus was impressed by the faith of these men. First, Jesus did what only God can do – he forgave the man’s sins. Then, Jesus healed the man so that he could get up and walk.
Jesus had spent quite a lot of time in and around Capernaum. He must have made it sort of a home base because Mark refers to it as “home” (verse 1). He already had a reputation as one who could heal the sick and cast out demons (Mark 2:1-12). In the parallel passage (Luke 5:17-26) we find that Pharisees travelled all the way from Jerusalem to hear Jesus speak. News spread fast that Jesus was back in town and a huge crowd gathered. People packed the house where he was staying.
There are many kinds of paralysis, affecting different parts of the body or all of it. It seems this man was so disabled he could not walk. His bed probably was a simple mat carried by the corners.
The crowd of people was packed about the doorway, trying to get a glimpse of Jesus. There was no way four men could carry a man through that crowd and into the house through the door. The four men probably used an outside stairway to carry their friend up to the roof. Roofs were often flat. People could sleep on the roof when it was hot. To make the roof the builder would lay sticks close together over the beams and cover them with hard-packed clay. Sometimes a roller would be used to pack down the clay. This made for a hard clay roof. To make a hole, the men would have had to dig through the clay and remove some of the sticks. Probably the roof was so low that no ropes were needed to let the man down. People inside the house could reach up and take him as those outside let him down.
Jesus could see the four men had faith. They would not have done such an unusual thing if they had not believed Jesus could heal their friend. It was a common belief that sickness indicated personal sin, but everyone must have been surprised when Jesus said “You are forgiven” instead of saying “You are healed.”
It is miraculous that Jesus knew what the teachers of the law were thinking. They did not speak out loud, after all. They simply thought these things to themselves (Mark 2:6-8). They must have been shocked when Jesus confronted them.
The teachers of the law listening to Jesus were right to think that only God has the right (or power) to forgive sins. If anyone else had said this then it would have been considered blasphemy. Blasphemy is ridiculing or insulting God or claiming to be God when you are not. The teachers thought Jesus was blaspheming when He claimed to do what only God can do.
Jesus did not have a theological discussion with the teachers. He simply showed them that he could “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk.” He not only claimed he had the power of God – he proved it. The surprised people praised God, for they knew only He could do such a miracle.
Way to Introduce the Story:
Bring real estate ads to class today. Help the children look through the photos and find the kind of house they like. Point out different types of roofs. Also point out houses that have more than one level and mention the fact that they would have to have stairs. After the children have looked at a few pictures ask them what kind of houses that Jesus might have stayed in. You might even have pictures from a bible encyclopaedia. Talk about the fact that houses in Jesus’ time would have had flat roofs made from sticks and dried clay. The stairs would have been on the outside.
When Jesus came to a house in the city of Capernaum many people wanted to come and listen to him. So many people came to the house to hear him preach that the house was so packed with people that there was not even room to stand inside. Some people even had to stand outside and listen through the doors and windows.
One man that wanted to come and hear Jesus was very disappointed. This man was paralyzed and could not walk. Four of his friends had to carry him on a mat. The man and his friends could not get inside the house where Jesus was preaching.
But the four men did not give up. They were determined to get their friend inside that house to listen to Jesus. What could they do?
Houses in those days had flat roofs that were made of clay and straw. They usually had stairs on the outside so people could climb on the roof to get some fresh air. The men had an idea. Maybe they could somehow get inside the house through the roof.
So the mean climbed on to the top of the roof carrying the paralyzed man. Then they started pulling off the clay and straw to make an opening.
The men kept pulling off clay and straw and soon the hole became as big as a man. Now it was time for their plan!
The people inside must have been very curious to see a hole appear in the ceiling. They could probably see blue sky from inside the dark house. Soon something started appearing through the hole – it was a mat with a man on it! The man’s friends had lowered him down through the hole so that he ended up right in front of Jesus!
Jesus was impressed by all the trouble these men had gone to to get him inside the house. He knew they must really want to hear the words he was saying. When Jesus saw their great faith he said to the paralyzed man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”
The man must have been happy to hear Jesus say that his sins were forgiven. But even though this man was happy there were some people who were not happy at all. The teachers of the law were always watching Jesus and checking to see if he made mistakes.
They did not speak out loud but they thought to themselves, “Why does this man say things like that? He is saying things that are against God. Only God can forgive sins.”
These teachers of the law only thought these things. People cannot hear thoughts that we have. People can only hear words that we say out loud with our voice. Only God can know what we are thinking before we speak the words.
But Jesus is different from other people. What a shock to these men when he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to tell this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to tell him, ‘Stand up. Take your mat and walk’? Watch me now. I will prove to you that I have the authority on earth to forgive sins.”
So Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, stand up. Take your mat and go home.”
Immediately the paralyzed man stood up. He took his mat and walked out while everyone was watching him.
The man was happy. First his sins had been forgiven and now, he could walk!. All of the people were amazed and praised God. They had seen a miracle take place. Jesus must have the power of God! Everyone was saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
And what about the man’s friends? If they had not had faith they would have given up. They might have left without finding a way to bring their friend to Jesus.
And how about you? Will you be the kind of person that will bring your friends to hear about Jesus?
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
Click here to download the slideshow or click here to download the pictures to print. Be selective. Each teacher is unique so only use the illustrations that best relate to the way YOU are telling the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.
- Why did the man’s friends carry him to meet Jesus? The man could not walk and they wanted him to be healed.
- Why couldn’t they get close to Jesus? There were too many people crowded into the house.
- How did the man’s friends get him close to Jesus? They climbed on the roof and made a hole in it. Then they lowered their friend down into the house through the roof.
- What two things did Jesus do for the man? 1) forgave his sins 2) healed him so that he could walk
- Ha-la-la-la Song
- Love is Something If You Give It Away Song
- Refer to the Song Page on this website for more options.
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Use a bible encyclopaedia to learn about houses in New Testament times. Use boxes, sticks and clay to make one in class.
- Act out the story. The kids will love holding a blanket at four corners and carrying one of their friends. With a large group you could bring two blankets and have a race.
- Let children use the white/chalk board to record the names of their school friends and then spend time praying for them in class.
Older children can use a concordance to look up verses containing the word “friend”.
- Bring a small toy or object to class. Let the children sit in a circle and pass the toy from person to person in a circle. You (or an assigned child) can close your eyes, wait a few seconds, and then clap. The child holding the toy at the sound of the clap must tell the class one way to help a friend follow God. Play a few rounds of this as interest allows.
- Divide the students into pairs. Write “______ helps me love Jesus” at the bottom of large pieces of paper. Provide crayons, markers or paint and let the children paint a portrait of their partner. Discuss ways friends can help us obey Jesus.
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and worksheet about the man lowered through the roof (Calvary Curriculum)
- Colouring page of friends lowering man through roof from sermons4kids.com
- Colouring page of Jesus and lame man christiananswers.net
- Video (3 minutes 26 seconds) of a teacher telling this story using simple paper props from youtube
- Craft: Printable craft using paper and string from auntiesbiblelessons.wordpress.com
- Craft: Make a New Testament home from a box from childrensministryideasunlimited.blogspot.com
- Online games from gardentofpraise.com
- Wordsearch from sermons4kids.com
- Multiple Choice quiz from sermons4kids.com
- Game: “Grab a corner of the blanket” sermons4kids.com
- Teacher’s Guide from ccquakertown.org