FTER the great day of teaching and healing, of which we read in the last story, Jesus lay down to rest in the house of Simon Peter. But very early the next morning, before it was light, he rose up, and went out of the house to a place where he could be alone, and there for a long time he prayed to God. Soon Simon and the other disciples missed him, and sought for him until they found him. They said, "Everybody is looking for you; come back to the city."
But Jesus said, "No, I cannot stay in Capernaum. There are other places where I must preach the kingdom of God, for this is the work to which I am sent."
And Jesus went out through all the towns in that part of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues, and healing all kinds of sickness, and casting out the evil spirits. His disciples were with him, and great crowds followed him from all the land. They came to hear his wonderful words and to see his wonderful works.
While he was on this journey of preaching in Galilee, a leper came to him. You remember, from the story of Naaman the Syrian (Story 86), what a terrible disease leprosy was, and still is, in those lands, and that no man could cure the leper.
This poor leper fell down before the feet of Jesus, and cried out, "O Lord, if you are willing, I know that you can make me well and clean!" Jesus was full of pity for this poor man. He reached out his hand and touched him, and said, "I am willing; be clean!" And in a moment all the scales of leprosy fell away, his skin became pure, and the leper stood up a well man. Jesus said to him, "Do not tell any one; but go to the priests, and offer the gift that the law commands, and let them see that you have been cured."
Jesus said this because he knew that if the man should tell every one whom he met how he had been cured, such crowds would come to him for healing that he would find no time for preaching the word of God; and preaching God's word, and not healing the sick, was the great work of Jesus.
But this leper who had been healed did not obey the command of Jesus. He could not keep still, and told everybody whom he knew that Jesus, the great prophet, had taken away his leprosy. And it came to pass as Jesus had expected; such great crowds gathered in all the towns and villages to see Jesus, and to ask him to heal their sick, that Jesus could not enter the cities to preach the gospel. He went out to the fields and the open country, and there the people followed him in great throngs.
After a time Jesus came again to Capernaum, which was now his home. As soon as the people heard that he was there they came in great crowds to see him and to hear him. They filled the house, and the courtyard inside its walls, and even the streets around it, while Jesus sat in the open court of the house and taught them. It was the spring-time and warm, and a roof had been placed over the court as a shelter from the sun.
In the crowd listening to Jesus were not only his friends, but some that were his enemies, Pharisees, men making a great show of serving God, but wicked in their hearts, and scribes who taught the law, but were jealous of this new teacher, whose words were so far above theirs. These men were watching to find some evil in Jesus, so that they might lead the people away from him.
While Jesus was teaching, and these men were listening, the roof was suddenly taken away above their heads. They looked up, and saw that a man was being let down in a bed by four men on the walls above.
The man let down through the roof
This man had a sickness called palsy, which made his limbs shake all the time, and kept him helpless, so that he could neither walk nor stand. He was so eager to come to Jesus that these men, finding that they could not carry him through the crowd, had lifted him up to the top of the house, and had opened the roof, and were now letting him down in his bed before Jesus.
This showed that they believed in Jesus, without any doubt whether he could cure this man from his palsy. Jesus said to the man, "My son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven!"
The enemies of Jesus who were sitting near heard these
words, and they thought in their own minds, though they
did not speak it aloud, "What wicked things this man
speaks! He claims to forgive sins! Who except God
himself has power to say, 'Your sins are
Jesus knew their thoughts, for he knew all things, and he said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? Which is the easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise up and walk?' But I will show you that while I am on earth as the Son of man, I have the power to forgive sins."
Then he spoke to the palsied man on his couch before them, "Rise up, take up your bed, and go to your house!"
At once a new life and power came to the palsied man. He stood upon his feet, rolled up the bed on which he had been lying helpless, placed it on his shoulders and walked out through the crowd, which opened to make a way for him. The man went, strong and well, to his own house, praising God as he walked.
By this Jesus had shown that, as the Son of God, he had the right to forgive the sins of men.
These enemies of Jesus could say nothing, but in their hearts they hated him more than ever, for they saw that the people believed on Jesus. They praised the Lord God, and felt fear toward one who could do such mighty works, and they said, "We have seen strange things to-day!"
Jesus hears the mother's prayer