Jesus Heals the Man with a Palsy

In the book Jesus the Christ, James Talmage defines a palsy as follows: “PALSY – a species of paralysis which deprived the subject of the power of voluntary motion and usually of speech.” Jesus healed such a man.

Jesus Heals the Paralytic from The Chosen

Luke 5 : 18-26 KJV

18. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.

19. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.

20. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.

21. And the scribes and Pharisees began to reason saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?

22. But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?

23. Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?

24. But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.

25. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.

26. And they were all amazed and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.

Jesus the Christ 

Written by James Talmage

Chapter 14


It must be borne in mind that no one of the evangelists attempts to give a detailed history of all the doings of Jesus, nor do all follow the same order in relating the incidents with which they associate the great lessons of the Master’s teachings. There is much uncertainty as to the actual sequence of events.

“Some days” after the healing of the leper, Jesus was again in Capernaum. The details of His employment during the interval are not specified; but, we may be sure that His work continued, for His characteristic occupation was that of going about doing good.[411] His place of abode in Capernaum was well known, and word was soon noised about that He was in the house.[412] A great throng gathered, so that there was no room to receive them; even the doorway was crowded, and later comers could not get near the Master. To all who were within hearing Jesus preached the gospel. A little party of four approached the house bearing a litter or pallet on which lay a man afflicted with palsy, a species of paralysis which deprived the subject of the power of voluntary motion and usually of speech; the man was helpless. His friends, disappointed at finding themselves unable to reach Jesus because of the press, resorted to an unusual expedient, which exhibited in an unmistakable way their faith in the Lord as One who could rebuke and stay disease, and their determination to seek the desired blessing at His hands.

By some means they carried the afflicted man to the flat roof of the house, probably by an outside stairway or by the use of a ladder, possibly by entering an adjoining house, ascending the stairs to its roof and crossing therefrom to the house within which Jesus was teaching. They broke away part of the roof, making an opening, or enlarging that of the trapdoor such as the houses of that place and time were usually provided with; and, to the surprise of the assembled crowd, they then let down through the tiling the portable couch upon which the palsied sufferer lay. Jesus was deeply impressed by the faith and works [413] of those who had thus labored to place a helpless paralytic before Him; doubtless, too, He knew of the trusting faith in the heart of the sufferer; and, looking compassionately upon the man, He said: “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”

Among the people there assembled were scribes, Pharisees, and doctors of the law, not only representatives of the local synagogue but some who had come from distant towns in Galilee, and some from Judea, and even from Jerusalem. The official class had opposed our Lord and His works on earlier occasions, and their presence in the house at this time boded further unfriendly criticism and possible obstruction. They heard the words spoken to the paralytic, and were angered thereat. In their hearts they accused Jesus of the awful offense of blasphemy, which consists essentially in claiming for human or demon power the prerogatives of God, or in dishonoring God by ascribing to Him attributes short of perfection.[414] These unbelieving scholars, who incessantly wrote and talked of the coming of the Messiah, yet rejected Him when He was there present, murmured in silence, saying to themselves: “Who can forgive sins but God only?” Jesus knew their inmost thoughts,[415] and made reply thereto, saying: “Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?” And then to emphasize, and to put beyond question His possession of divine authority, He added: “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.” The man arose, fully restored; and, taking up the mattress upon which he had been brought, walked out before them. The amazement of the people was mingled with reverence, and many glorified God, of whose power they were witnesses.

The incident demands our further study. According to one of the accounts, the Lord’s first words to the afflicted one were: “Son, be of good cheer;” followed directly by the comforting and authoritative assurance: “Thy sins be given thee.”[416] The man was probably in a state of fear; he may have known that his ailment was the result of wicked indulgences; nevertheless, though he may have considered the possibility of hearing only condemnation for his transgression, he had faith to be brought. In this man’s condition there was plainly a close connection between his past sins and his present affliction; and in this particular his case is not unique, for we read that Christ admonished another, whom He healed, to sin no more lest a worse thing befall him.[417] We are not warranted, however, in assuming that all bodily ills are the result of culpable sin; and against such a conception stands the Lord’s combined instruction and rebuke to those who, in the case of a man born blind, asked who had sinned, the man or his parents to bring so grievous an affliction upon him, to which inquiry our Lord replied that the man’s blindness was due neither to his own sin nor to that of his parents.[418]

In many instances, however, disease is the direct result of individual sin. Whatever may have been the measure of past offense on the part of the man suffering from palsy, Christ recognized his repentance together with the faith that accompanied it, and it was the Lord’s rightful prerogative to decide upon the man’s fitness to receive remission of his sins and relief from his bodily affliction. The interrogative response of Jesus to the muttered criticism of the scribes, Pharisees, and doctors, has been interpreted in many ways. He inquired which was easier, to say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” or to say, “Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk.” Is it not a rational explanation that, when spoken authoritatively by Him, the two expressions were of allied meaning? The circumstance should have been a sufficient demonstration to all who heard, that He, the Son of Man, claimed and possessed the right and the power to remit both physical and spiritual penalties, to heal the body of visible disease, and to purge the spirit of the no less real malady of sin. In the presence of people of all classes Jesus thus openly asserted His divinity, and affirmed the same by a miraculous manifestation of power.

The charge of blasphemy, which the rabbinical critics formulated in their minds against the Christ, was not to end as a mental conception of theirs, nor to be nullified by our Lord’s later remarks. It was through perjured testimony that He finally received unrighteous condemnation and was sent to His death.[419] Already, in that house at Capernaum, the shadow of the cross had fallen athwart the course of His life.

[411] Acts 10:38.

[412] Mark 2:1-12; compare Matt. 9:2-8; Luke 5:17-24.

[413] Compare James 2:14-18.

[414] Blasphemy.—The essence of the deep sin of blasphemy lies not, as many suppose, in profanity alone, but as Dr. Kelso, Stand. Bible Dict., summarizes: “Every improper use of the divine name (Lev. 24:11), speech derogatory to the Majesty of God (Matt. 26:65), and sins with a high hand—i.e. premeditated transgressions of the basal principles of the theocracy (Numb. 9:13; 15:30; Exo. 31:14)—were regarded as blasphemy; the penalty was death by stoning (Lev. 24:16).” Smith’s Bible Dict. states: “Blasphemy, in its technical English sense, signifies the speaking evil of God, and in this sense it is found in Psalm 74:18; Isa. 52:5; Rom. 2:24, etc…. On this charge both our Lord and Stephen were condemned to death by the Jews. When a person heard blasphemy he laid his hand on the head of the offender, to symbolize his sole responsibility for the guilt, and rising on his feet, tore his robe, which might never again be mended.” (See Matt. 26:65.)

[415] See another instance of our Lord reading unuttered thoughts. Luke 7:39-50.

[416] Matt. 9:2. “Thy Sins Be Forgiven Thee.”—The following commentary by Edersheim (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, vol. i, pp. 505, 506) on the incident under consideration is instructive: “In this forgiveness of sins He presented His person and authority as divine, and He proved it such by the miracle of healing which immediately followed. Had the two been inverted, [i.e. had Christ first healed the man and afterward told him that his sins were forgiven] there would have been evidence, indeed, of His power, but not of His divine personality, nor of His having authority to forgive sins; and this, not the doing of miracles, was the object of His teaching and mission, of which the miracles were only secondary evidence. Thus the inward reasoning of the scribes, which was open and known to Him who readeth all thoughts, issued in quite the opposite of what they could have expected. Most unwarranted, indeed, was the feeling of contempt which we trace in their unspoken words, whether we read them: ‘Why does this one thus speak blasphemies?’ or, according to a more correct transcript of them: ‘Why does this one speak thus? He blasphemeth!’ Yet from their point of view they were right, for God alone can forgive sins; nor has that power ever been given or delegated to man. But was He a mere man, like even the most honored of God’s servants? Man, indeed; but ‘the Son of Man.’ … It seemed easy to say: ‘Thy sins have been forgiven.’ But to Him, who had authority to do so on earth, it was neither more easy nor more difficult than to say: ‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.’ Yet this latter, assuredly, proved the former, and gave it in the sight of all men unquestioned reality. And so it was the thoughts of these scribes, which, as applied to Christ, were ‘evil’—since they imputed to Him blasphemy—that gave occasion for offering real evidence of what they would have impugned and denied. In no other manner could the object alike of miracles and of this special miracle have been so attained as by the ‘evil thoughts’ of these scribes, when, miraculously brought to light, they spoke out the inmost possible doubt, and pointed to the highest of all questions concerning the Christ. And so it was once more the wrath of man which praised Him.”

[417] John 5:14.

[418] John 9:1-3.

[419] Compare John 10:33, and 5:18; Matt. 26:65, 66.