This is a commentary for you and me. It isn’t complicated, because Jesus wants you to understand it, so you can be healed physically and even more importantly, in your relationship with God, which is broken.
Verse 1-2 — Jesus has returned from Galilee to Capernaum, his home base. Crowds form, because they have heard what He did in Galilee. The place where He is staying is packed with people, and it is impossible to even squeeze through the door to get in.
I tell you, when Jesus works His works even today, He attracts crowds. As with your own case, there are many sicknesses and diseases and mental problems and demonically possessed people that are considered incurable by modern medicine. Even today, some Christian healing ministries are very large and famous. I leave it to God to judge which are truly the work of Jesus, and which are not. But Jesus is still working!
Verse 3-5 — Four men cannot enter by the usual way, with their paralyzed friend. They are sure if they can just reach Jesus, their friend will be healed. That’s faith. So they remove the tiles on the roof and make a big enough hole so they can lower their friend down. That’s faith. Jesus sees their faith.
What is His response? “Son, your sins are forgiven.” That means that his disease is related somehow to sin in his life. The sin problem has to be dealt with before the man is in a spiritual position to be healed. If you have confessed your sins and have been saved. You are in a spiritual position to be healed.
Verse 6-8 — The scribes (Jewish men who specialize in Jewish religious law), are upset that Jesus forgives the man’s sins. Only God can forgive sins, and by doing it, Jesus is proclaiming He is equal to God. They don’t say these words, but they are thinking them, in their hearts.
Here’s a very important point. Jesus knows what you are thinking without you speaking it. So be honest with Him. Are you doubting? He knows already. Be honest, confess it, and ask Him to increase your faith. He will.
Verse 9-12 — Both “your sins are forgiven” and “get up, pick up your mat and walk,” are equally easy for the Son of God. He’s already done the first. Now He does the second. And the man gets up, picks up his mat, and walks. He has to. Jesus said it.
And the people marvel, because the scribes and Jewish leaders have no such power or authority. That’s why they have never seen anything like Jesus’ works.
Verse 13 — Note that Jesus never goes anywhere without teaching. It is never just a matter of laying hands on the sick so they get well. It is teaching, teaching, teaching. About what? About Him, about God, about sin, about repentance from sin, and about forgiveness from God.
Verse 14 — Again, Jesus says “Follow Me,” and Levi (Matthew) immediately leaves His money, His whole business, and follows Jesus. He cannot help but follow. Jesus said it. You cannot help but be healed, when you understand that Jesus says it.
Verse 15-16 — The scribes and Pharisees are holier-than-thou. If someone isn’t religious like them, they don’t want to eat with them, touch them, or get near them in any way. So when Jesus eats with the non-religious, and the Pharisees see that many are following Him, they are both jealous and upset. They don’t go to Jesus with their concerns. They ask His disciples.
Verse 17 — But Jesus overhears. He hasn’t come to save those who think they are righteous (that is, they are self-righteous and think they do enough good things to get them to heaven).
If they think they can get to heaven by dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” of the ceremonial Law, why would they see their need for a Savior? But those who know they are sinners will run to Christ. He comes for those who understand they have a heart condition (sin) for which He has a cure (salvation first, and then purification of the heart).
(NOTE: Righteousness is being right with God, by asking Jesus Christ to take away your sin, believing He died to take them away and rose on the third day. The outcome or fruit of being made right with God is that you live in a way that honors God and His Christ.)
Verse 18-20 — Even the disciples of John the Baptist question Jesus because His disciples do not fast three times a week (part of the ceremonial Law of Judaism).
Jesus refers to Himself as the Bridegroom, and as long as He is with His disciples (who will, with the rest of the 120 become the church in Acts 2), they should not fast. Why would a bride (the church) fast when Her Beloved husband (Jesus Christ) is present? When He is taken away from them (crucified), they will fast. Until He is risen on the third day, it will be fasting because they are mourning. But when they are filled with the Holy Spirit, it will not be fasting to obey a ceremonial Law, but to obey the Holy Spirit when He calls them to fast, as in Acts 13:2.
(NOTE: Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom. Look at John the Baptist’s testimony in John 3:29. John the Baptist identifies himself as the friend of the Bridegroom. In Jewish weddings, the friend of the bridegroom goes ahead of the bridegroom to announce that he has arrived on the scene. That is what John the Baptist did. Also, see 2 Corinthians 11:2 and Ephesians 5:25.)
Verse 21-22 — Just in case the reader doesn’t understand that Jesus is speaking of the self-righteous and their dependence on doing the ceremonial Law to get to heaven, Jesus adds these statements. The ceremonial Law is the old garment, the old wineskins, the old tradition.
He announces that He brings a new garment, a new wineskin. His new covenant (promise) cannot be applied like a patch on the ceremonial Law. His new wine (His Holy Spirit) cannot be confined to the wineskin of the ceremonial Law. It is a new thing, though the Ten Commandments still apply. You just do them automatically. If you want a little more depth on that point, I’ll be glad to supply it!
Verses 23-26 — The Pharisees who dot every “i” and cross every “t,” don’t understand Him. They continue to fuss with Jesus about the Law. They completely miss what the Sabbath is all about. His disciples are hungry, so they pick the heads of grain and eat. Oh, no! That’s work! You aren’t supposed to work on the Sabbath!
But Jesus reminds them of the Old Testament, which they seem to have forgotten, or which they have completely misunderstood. David and his followers, when they were being hunted by King Saul, were given not just any old bread but (heaven forbid!) the showbread, which is considered untouchable. And what was worse, if the Pharisees are right about their idea of goodness, can you imagine what happened?? Horrors!! The priest was the one who gave the untouchable showbread to them. The Pharisees would say that David and his men, and the priest, disobeyed the Law!!! But of course, they did not disobey God’s will.
Verse 27-28 — To reinforce what Jesus is teaching the Pharisees and us, He tells them that God instituted the Sabbath for man. Who is man, that he should misuse the Sabbath as some kind of law that must be followed? For the Pharisees have misused it as a means of accusing Jesus and His disciples. They have taken it upon themselves to tell God the Son how the Sabbath is to be observed. How blind they are!
These verses are a reminder that no one can, by any of his own works, please God. If you try, you make your works your god, as the Pharisees, scribes and Jewish leaders did. Do you see it?