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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 9 - Verse 2

Verse 2. A man sick of the palsy. See Barnes "Mt 4:24".

 

Lying on a bed. This was probably a mattress, or perhaps a mere blanket spread to lie on, so as to be easily borne. Being light, Jesus might with propriety command him to take it up and walk, Mt 9:6.

Mark says, "they uncovered the roof," Mt 2:4 Luke says, "they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling," Mt 5:19 To us it would appear that much injury must have been done to the house where Jesus was, and that they must be much incommoded by the removal of tiles and rafters, etc. An acquaintance, however, with the mode of building in the East removes every difficulty of this nature. Houses, in eastern countries, are commonly square in their form, and of a single story. On approaching them from the street, a single door is seen in the centre, and, usually, directly above it a single latticed window. This destitution of doors and lights from the streets, though it gives their dwellings a sombre appearance, is yet adapted to the habits of retirement and secrecy among the people of the East, where they are desirous of keeping their females from observation. The annexed representation of an Arabian house shows the external appearance of an eastern dwelling, and the upper chamber, or "closet," rising above the main building. See Barnes "Mt 6:6".

On entering the only door in front, the first room is a small square room, surrounded with benches, called the porch. In this room the master of the family commonly transacts business, and, on private occasions, receives visits. Passing through the porch, you enter a large square room directly in the centre of the building, called the court. Luke says that the paralytic was let down "into the midst;" not in the midst of the people, but of the building—the middle place of the house. This court is paved commonly with marble; and, if possible, a fountain of water is formed in the centre, to give it beauty, and to diffuse a grateful coolness. This room is surrounded by a gallery, or covered walk on every side. From that covered walk, doors open into the other apartments of the house.

This centre room, or court, is commonly uncovered or open above. In wet weather, however, and in times of great heat of the sun, it is covered with an awning or canvass, stretched on cords, and capable of being easily removed or rolled up. This is what Mark means when he says they uncovered the roof. They rolled up or removed this awning.

From the court to the roof the ascent is by flights of stairs, either ill the covered walk or gallery, or in the porch. The roof is nearly flat. It is made of earth; or, in houses of the rich, is a firmly constructed flooring, made of coals, chalk, gypsum, and ashes, made hard by repeated blows. On those roofs, spears of grass, wheat, or barley sometimes spring up; but these are soon withered by the sun, Ps 129:6-8. The roof is a favourite place for walking, for repose in the, cool of the day, for conversation, and for devotion. See Barnes "Mt 6:6".

On such a roof Rahab concealed the spies, (Jos 2:6) Samuel talked with Saul, (1 Sa 9:25;) David walked at eventide, (2 Sa 11:2) and Peter went up to pray, (Ac 10:9.) The following cut represents the roof of a house, with the battlement, and a person viewing the neighbouring country. This roof was surrounded with a balustrade, or railing, breast high, on the sides; but where a house was contiguous to another, and of the same height, the railing was lower, so as to walk from one roof to another. In cities constructed in this manner, it was possible to walk through a considerable part of the city on the roofs of the houses. A breastwork or riding was of course built in the same manner around the open space in the centre, to prevent them from falling into the court below. This railing, or breastwork, is what Lu 5:19 says they let him down through. They removed it probably so that the couch could be conveniently let down with cords; and standing on the roof over the Saviour, they let the man down directly before him. The perseverance they had manifested was the evidence of their faith or confidence in his power to heal the sick man.

The cut on the next page exhibits the ground-plan of an eastern dwelling, and illustrates the account of the cure of the sick man. By looking at this it may be easily seen how the paralytic was presented to Jesus. Suppose the Saviour to be seated in the open court, say at G. The room was thronged. There was but one way of access, through a. It would be easy to ascend the stairs at F, and go round on the gallery till they came over Jesus, and remove a part of the balustrade, or breastwork, and let him down directly before him.

Be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. It may seem remarkable that, since the man came only to be healed, Jesus should have at first declared his sins forgiven. For this the following reasons may be suggested:

1st. The man might have brought on this affection of the palsy by a long course of vicious indulgence. Conscious of guilt, he may have feared that he was so great a sinner that Christ would not regard him. He therefore assured him that his offences were pardoned, and that he might lay aside his fears.

2nd. Jesus might be willing to show his power to forgive sins. Had he stated it without any miracle, the Jews would not have believed it, and even his disciples might have been staggered. In proof of it, he worked a miracle; and no one, therefore, could doubt that he had the power. The miracle was wrought in express attestation of the assertion that he had the power to forgive sins. As God would not work a miracle to confirm a falsehood, or to deceive men, the miracle was a solemn confirmation, on the part of God, that Jesus had the power to forgive sins.

3rd. The Jews regarded disease as the effect of sin, Joh 9:2; Jas 5:14,15. There is a real connexion between sin and suffering, as in the case of gluttony, intemperate drinking, lewdness, debauchery. Jesus might be willing to direct the minds of the spectators to this fact; and by pointing them to a manifest instance of the effect of sin, to lead them to hate and forsake it. Diseases are sometimes the direct judgment of God for sin, 1 Co 5:3-5; 11:30; 2 Sa 24:10-14.

This truth, also, Christ might have been desirous of impressing on the people.

{o} "Son, be of good cheer" Mr 5:34.

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