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THE NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER
THE PARALYTIC HEALED.
Matthew ix. 2.
AND BEHOLD THEY BROUGHT TO HIM A MAN
SICK OF THE PALSY, LYING ON A BED: AND JESUS, SEEING THEIR FAITH, SAID UNTO THE SICK OF THE PALSY, SON, BE OF GOOD CHEER; THY SINS BE FORGIVEN THEE.
The kindness and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ towards the needy and distressed, appeared in every action of His life. He went about doing good. But notwithstanding this was His continual object and practice, He was surrounded by enemies who wished to find fault with, and to misrepresent every thing that He did.
The Gospel for this day furnishes evidence on both of these points. The transaction here recorded is said to have taken place in His own city, or in Capernaum, where He had taken up His residence, in consequence of the ill-treatment He had received at Nazareth, when He opened His commission as a Teacher come from Godb8 to the people among whom He had been brought up. At the commencement of His discourse it is said, that all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. But at the close of it, all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong. But He, passing through the midst of them, went His way, and came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the Sabbath-days.59 Our blessed Lord seems to bave taken up His abode at this place, on account of the facility which was afforded Him, by means of its situation on the border of the sea or lake of Galilee, to visit the numerous towns or villages that surrounded the lake. And, perhaps also, as Peter and others of His disciples were fishermen, to enable them to obtain their livelihood, by pursuing their
58 John iii. 2.
59 Luke iv. 16, 22, 28–31.
occupation as occasion might serve, while they attended on His ministry.
It appears from the preceding narrative of our Evangelist, that Jesus had crossed over to the other side of the lake; where a proof of the dreadful power of the invisible enemies of mankind had been recently manifested, to the terror of all who witnessed it. He had dispossessed of a multitude of evil spirits two poor men who had been tormented by them, and were the terror of the whole country. He had permitted these evil spirits to enter into a herd of about two thousand swine, which immediately ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters ; an event which so terrified the people that they besought Him to depart out of their coasts „60 as if He had done them an injury, instead of having conferred a benefit upon them which should have excited their utmost gratitude.
The Gospel for this day commences with relating that Jesus entered into a ship, and passed over the lake, and came into His own city, Capernaum, the place where He had taken up His abode at that time as His home. On this occasion the event took place which is related in the text. Behold, they brought to Him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed. St. Mark records that 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. And that when the men who carried the paralytic could not come nigh unto Jesus for the press, they uncovered the roof where He was; and when they had broken it up, or had forced out from the wall some of the fastenings of the awning which covered the court, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. The palsy is a disorder which generally affects both the mind and the body of the afflicted patient; and deprives the parts of the body, that are affected by it, of feeling and motion. As this poor man was carried by four persons upon a couch, it seems as if he was affected by the disorder in its worst state ; that it was what is termed a complete or general palsy, which reaches to every part except the head. In this deplorable condition, in which there was no hope of cure by any human means, his friends brought him to Christ. At this time it is said by St. Luke, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem.62
10 Matthew viii. 32, 34.
The eastern houses usually have a large area or court in the centre. In a place of this kind, the people appear to have been assembled to hear our Saviour's instructions. There are also stairs from the outside leading up to the roof, which is generally flat, and surrounded with a parapet wall. And over the court there is frequently a covering or awning, to protect it from the rays of the sun. The people who carried this poor man, took him up to the top of the house, and forced out of the wall the fastenings of the covering, to enable them to let down into the court the bed which contained the sick patient; being satisfied that if they could but place him in a situation where his miserable condition would be presented to our Saviour's observation, his disease would soon be removed. The manner in which they acted, showed their belief in the mighty power of the Lord Jesus. The report of His miracles which He did on them that were diseased,63 had reached their ears; and they believed that what He had done for others, He was able to do for this man also.
61 Mark ii. 2, 4.
62 Luke v. 17.
The case of the poor paralytic may represent to us that of the sin-sick soul. The manner in which sin affects mankind, may be compared to the effect which is produced by the disease of the palsy upon the human frame. It paralyses the whole man. All the faculties of the mind, and all the powers of the body, are affected by it. In consequence of sin, the feet cannot walk in the ways of God: the hands cannot act in His
63 John vi. 2.