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uncovered the roof where He was : and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, He said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive_sins but God only? And immediately, when Jesus perceived in His Spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, He said unto them, 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? 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. And immediately he arose,

took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

To understand this history, we must bear in mind that Eastern houses are built much more slightly than ours are, and that they commonly have a staircase outside reaching to the roof, which is flat. Our Lord was most likely teaching in the upper chamber, as St. Paul did afterwards at Troas. It was the most retired room in an Eastern house, and commonly the largest. These four men must have carried the helpless palsied man up that staircase, broken into the roof, made a hole large enough for their purpose, and let

Acts, xx. 8.

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sin was

him down with ropes at the feet of Jesus Christ. Their faith was strong indeed; it overcame many hindrances.

They brought the poor man to be healed of the palsy, but our Lord comforted him and forgave him his sins. No doubt the sense of

a burden to his soul, and till it was taken off he was not in a fit state for being cured of his bodily sickness. But the scribes, who were sitting by, thought that it was blasphemous in our Lord to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee. They kept their eyes shut to the proofs of Christ's Godhead, and then took offence at His claiming a power which belonged of right to God alone. He knew what they were thinking. They could not see whether sins were forgiven at His Word or no, but they could see whether a palsied man rose up at His Word or no. Therefore as a proof that He had power to forgive sins, He bade the sick man arise, take up his bed, and go to his house.

And the man did so. This miracle, like that of the raising Jairus' daughter, or healing the Centurion's servant, shews how our prayers avail not only for ourselves, but for others, either in sorrow or in sin. We do not read of the man's faith or of his prayers, but we read that Christ saw the faith of those who laid the sick man at His feet, and did what they desired. What an encouragement this is to intercessory prayer, which St. Paul exhorts us to make, 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2.

X.--THE CLEANSING OF THE LEPER.

LEPROSY is a terrible disease with which Eastern lands are visited. It begins with one little bright spot in the skin, from which it spreads over the whole body, covering it with scales and scabs, till at last the limbs mortify and fall off. It is a direct visitation from the Hand of God. Sometimes He sent it as a punishment for sin, as on Miriam, Gehazi," and Uzziah. The Jews of old called it the Finger of God, and the stroke, and by the Law of Moses those who were stricken with it had to dwell alone. No one was to touch them or come near them. They were commanded

with their heads bare and their clothes rent, and to cry out Unclean! unclean! that everyone might know them and keep away from them. Thus they were lonely and very miserable. No wonder that the Good Physician pitied them, and healed many of them.

As our Lord came down from the mountain of Beatitudes, where He had taught His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, He healed a leper. The history is given in St. Matt. viii. 2-4, which is part of the Gospel for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany; and also in St. Mark, i. 40-45; and St. Luke, v. 12–14.

to go

And behold, there came a leper and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man: but go thy Num. xii. 10. 2 2 Kings, v. 27. 2 Chron. xxvi. 19.

way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

This poor man is an example of simple humble faith. His case was a very bad one ; St. Luke calls him full of leprosy; but he only brought it before our Lord, leaving it in His Hands to do what He would. He said, Lord, if Thou wilt Thou canst make me clean. And our merciful Saviour never fails those who thus put their trust in Him. He touched the leper, and said, 'I will; be thou clean. A mere man would have defiled himself by such a touch; but Jesus Christ cleansed the man He touched, remaining undefiled Himself—for life, and health, and purity, abode in Him.

But God had ordained long before what a leper was to do when he was healed. He was to go to the priests, who would examine him and see whether he was really cured. If so, he was to bring an offering of two birds, three lambs, fine flour and oil, and the priest would make an atonement for him, and declare him to be clean. Therefore our Lord now commanded the man not to talk about what had happened, but go and do at once what the Law required. The priests would declare that the man was healed, and bear witness of it against those who refused to believe in the Lord Jesus.

All sickness is a type of sin, but most of all leprosy, which was the most dreadful of diseases, and a kind of living death. As all evil doers are shut out of the New Jerusalem, so the leper was shut out of the camp of Israel ? and the earthly Jerusalem. He carried about him the Rev. xxi. 27.

? Lev, xüi. 46; Num. v. 2-4. 3 2 Kings, vii. 3; xv. 5.

tokens of God's displeasure. He was the very symbol of a sinner. But this poor leper was like one who oppressed by sin comes to the feet of our merciful Saviour, as the only place for healing and salvation. And such never come in vain; for He has said, 'I have seen his ways, and will heal him."

XI.-THE HEALING OF THE CENTURION'S

SERVANT.

This was another of the mighty works done at or near Capernaum. There was a Roman garrison in that place, and most likely this centurion belonged to it. By birth he was a heathen, but he had learnt that salvation is of the Jews, and had become a Jewish proselyte, like the centurion Cornelius. The healing of his servant or slave is told in St. Luke, vii. 1-10, and in fewer words in St. Matthew, viii. 5–13, which is part of the Gospel for the Third Sunday after Epiphany.

Now when He had ended all His sayings in the audience of the people, He entered into Capernaum. And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto Him the elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that he would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom He should do this : for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. Then Jesus went with them. And when He was now not far from the house, the Isaiah, lvii. 18.

Acts, xx.

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