It was quite a dramatic scene. Jesus was preaching the word at a house in Capernaum. Four men came carrying a paralyzed friend on a bed. The crowd made their entrance into the house impossible. So they attached ropes to the bed and ascended to the roof. The men dug a hole in the roof and lowered their friend down to Jesus.
What happened next caused a considerable commotion. When Jesus saw the faith of these four men, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” (v.2) Oh boy! There were scribes in attendance. They were reeling, “Hey, that is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” Jesus knew their thoughts. He responded by telling them the Son of Man (a Messianic title) had the authority to forgive sins. Then by merely speaking to the paralyzed man the Lord healed him and the man arose. The scribes were correct – only God can do these things.
Seeing the man who was carried there on a bed now walking home, the crowd pretty much lost it and with amazement glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:12) It was miraculous to say the least.
The Bible tells us Jesus left there and soon met another man. This man collected taxes for the Romans. A hated tax collector! These men were despised as traitors and extortioners. They typically overcharged their fellow Jews and kept the money for themselves. Jesus saw him sitting at the tax office, and He said, “Follow Me.” No drama here. No crowds. No beds, no ropes, no holes in the roof, no scribes, no fuss here. Just another sin-sick person, this one lounging in a chair paralyzed by the faulty notion that life is all about attaining riches and the here and now.
And then, in response to Jesus’ invitation, the tax collector “arose and followed Him.” (v.9) That tax collector would eventually write the book we have been reading from here – the Gospel of Matthew.
Two men arose at the words of Jesus, the first to great fanfare and astonishment, the second to neither. In both men, we are witnessing the miraculous power and life-changing realities of an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.
He says, “Arise!” He says, “Follow Me.” Have you done that in your life?