But that ye may know, etc. - External miracles are the proofs of internal ones. Three miracles are wrought in this case. (I mean, by miracle, something produced or known that no power is capable of but that which is omnipotent, and no knowledge adequate to but that which is omniscient). The miracles are these:
2d. The discernment of the secret thoughts of the scribes.
Thus one miracle becomes the proof and establishment of another. Never was a clearer proof of omnipotent energy and mercy brought under the senses of man. Here is an absolutely perfect miracle wrought; and here are absolute incontestable proofs that the miracle was wrought; and the conclusion is the fullest demonstration of the Divinity of the ever-blessed Jesus.
Arise, take up thy bed - Being enabled to obey this command was the public proof that the man was made whole. Such a circumstance should not pass without improvement. A man gives proof of his conversion from sin to God who imitates this paralytic person. He who does not rise and stand upright, but either continues grovelling on the earth, or falls back as soon as he is got up, is not yet cured of his spiritual palsy. When we see a penitent enabled to rejoice in hope of God's glory, and to walk in the way of his commandments, he affords us all the proof which we can reasonably require, that his conversion is real: the proof sufficient to satisfy himself is the witness of the Holy Spirit in his own heart; but this is a matter of which those who are without cannot judge: they must form their opinion from his conduct, and judge of the tree by its fruits.
But that ye may know - That you may have full proof on that point; that you may see that I have power to forgive sin, I will perform an act which all must perceive and admit to require the power of God.
Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine own house - The fact that the paralytic man could do this would prove that a miracle was performed. He was healed by a word; it was done instantaneously; it was done in the most public manner. The fact that a man, just before perfectly helpless, could now take up and carry his own bed or couch, proved that a divine “power” had been exerted; and that fact proved that he who had performed the miracle must also have the “power” and the “authority” to forgive sin. It is proper to add, in illustrating this, that in the East a “bed” is often nothing more than a bolster and a blanket spread on the floor. “The bed provided for me,” says Professor Hackett (“Illustrations of Scripture,” p. 112) “consisted merely of a bolster and a blanket spread on the floor. The latter could be drawn partially over the body if any one wished, though the expectation seemed to be that we should sleep in our ordinary dress, without any additional covering. Such a bed is obviously a portable one; it is easy to take it up, fold it together, and carry it from place to place, as convenience may require.”
But the work was not to stop here. It was to be extended to the earth's remotest bounds. To His disciples Christ said, You have been witnesses of My life of self-sacrifice in behalf of the world. You have witnessed My labors for Israel. Although they would not come unto Me that they might have life, although priests and rulers have done to Me as they listed, although they have rejected Me as the Scriptures foretold, they shall have still another opportunity of accepting the Son of God. You have seen that all who come to Me, confessing their sins, I freely receive. Him that cometh to Me I will in nowise cast out. All who will, may be reconciled to God, and receive everlasting life. To you, My disciples, I commit this message of mercy. It is to be given to Israel first, and then to all nations, tongues, and peoples. It is to be given to Jews and Gentiles. All who believe are to be gathered into one church. DA 821.1
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit the disciples were to receive a marvelous power. Their testimony was to be confirmed by signs and wonders. Miracles would be wrought, not only by the apostles, but by those who received their message. Jesus said, “In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Mark 16:17, 18. DA 821.2
At that time poisoning was often practiced. Unscrupulous men did not hesitate to remove by this means those who stood in the way of their ambition. Jesus knew that the life of His disciples would thus be imperiled. Many would think it doing God service to put His witnesses to death. He therefore promised them protection from this danger. DA 821.3Read in context »
In the healing of the paralytic at Capernaum, Christ again taught the same truth. It was to manifest His power to forgive sins that the miracle was performed. And the healing of the paralytic also illustrates other precious truths. It is full of hope and encouragement, and from its connection with the caviling Pharisees it has a lesson of warning as well. DA 267.1
Like the leper, this paralytic had lost all hope of recovery. His disease was the result of a life of sin, and his sufferings were embittered by remorse. He had long before appealed to the Pharisees and doctors, hoping for relief from mental suffering and physical pain. But they coldly pronounced him incurable, and abandoned him to the wrath of God. The Pharisees regarded affliction as an evidence of divine displeasure, and they held themselves aloof from the sick and the needy. Yet often these very ones who exalted themselves as holy were more guilty than the sufferers they condemned. DA 267.2
The palsied man was entirely helpless, and, seeing no prospect of aid from any quarter, he had sunk into despair. Then he heard of the wonderful works of Jesus. He was told that others as sinful and helpless as he had been healed; even lepers had been cleansed. And the friends who reported these things encouraged him to believe that he too might be cured if he could be carried to Jesus. But his hope fell when he remembered how the disease had been brought upon him. He feared that the pure Physician would not tolerate him in His presence. DA 267.3Read in context »
Many of those who came to Christ for help had brought disease upon themselves, yet He did not refuse to heal them. And when virtue from Him entered into these souls, they were convicted of sin, and many were healed of their spiritual disease as well as of their physical maladies. MH 73.1
Among these was the paralytic at Capernaum. Like the leper, this paralytic had lost all hope of recovery. His disease was the result of a sinful life, and his sufferings were embittered by remorse. In vain he had appealed to the Pharisees and doctors for relief; they pronounced him incurable, they denounced him as a sinner and declared that he would die under the wrath of God. MH 73.2Read in context »
I will refer to the paralytic who had not used his limbs for many years. There he was. The priests, the rulers, and scribes examined his case and pronounced it hopeless. They told him that by his own sin he had brought himself into this condition, and there was no hope for him. But the word was brought to him that there was a man called Jesus who was doing mighty works. He was healing the sick, and He had even raised the dead. “But how can I go to Him?” he said. FW 67.1
“We will carry you to Jesus,” his friends replied, “right into His presence; we have heard He has come to such a place.” FW 67.2Read in context »
But that mighty evidence given to the Pharisees did not convert them. Men can so encase themselves in unbelief, doubt, and infidelity that the raising of the dead would not convict them. Because of their unbelief they would be in the same unbelieving position, unconvicted, unconverted. But all those who have hearts to receive the truth and ears to hear, glorify God. They exclaim, “We have never seen it on this wise before!” FW 68.1
There was the impotent man, and as Christ talked with him, he told the pitiful story of how, just as soon as he would go down into the water to be healed, somebody else would step in before him. Christ asked him, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:6). What a question! That was what he was there for, but Christ wanted to call forth the expression of desire in that man's heart to be made whole. And when Christ bade him to rise, take up his bed and walk, he did just as Christ told him to do. He did not say, “Why, I have been here thirty years and have not taken a step during that time.” He did not stop to argue, but did just as he was bidden. He took up his bed and walked out and was healed from that time. FW 68.2Read in context »