BACKGROUND NOTES & OTHER NEAT INFO
JESUS HEALS THE PARALYSED MAN — KEY PLOT POINTS.
* A crowd has gathered at the house where Jesus is staying in Capernaum.
*A posse of four friends arrives carrying a buddy, a paralyzed man.
* The house is too crowded for them to bring him in through the door, so they go up on the roof and dig through it.
*Then they lower their friend down through the hole in the roof on his mat.
* Jesus sees this and tells the man his sins are forgiven.
* Nearby scribes find this a peculiar thing to say and comment on it.
* Jesus asks the scribes whether it's easier to say your sins are forgiven or to say stand up and walk.
* Jesus then tells the man to get up and walk. And he does so.
* The crowd is pretty stunned and amazed by all this.
Biblemap.org is such an excellent site. Go to it and type in Mark 2 to find Capernaum, along with a text box providing WAY MORE INFO THAN YOU WILL EVER NEED on Capernaum.
WHAT KIND OF ROOF WAS THAT?
Footnotes in the NOAB/NRSV point out these houses "often had a flat roof consisting of mud plaster over a wood frame."
WHAT'S A SCRIBE?
Turning to our footnotes again: "The scribes were the literate expert interpreters and guardians of the official law codes,
the Pharisees a particular party or faction within the wider class of scribes. Both were based in the Jerusalem temple ...
and worked for and represented the priestly rulers in dealings with the people."
SO WHAT WAS THEIR ISSUE WITH JESUS HERE?
Further from footnotes: "The man's paralysis is [traditionally; at the time] believed to be due to his own sin [or that of
his parents...] The scribes, the authorities who socially reinforced such self-blame for illness and misfortune accuse Jesus
of blasphemy , since forgiveness can be done by God alone, according to these official interpreters."
COME ON. WERE THE SCRIBES COMPLETELY OUT TO LUNCH?
In the book Biblical and Classical Myths, Canadian writer and scholar Northrop Frye provides some very good perspective on
how we might understand the role of these representatives of the Jewish law. The following is from Chp. 21, 'The Language
of Proclamation; The Gospel' (p. 215 - 216):
"That [the commandment aspect/emphasizing the positive aspect of a commandment vs the negative grammatical formulation in
Exodus] is the basis of distinction between law and gospel, which is not a distinction between one religion and another...
nowhere in the New Testament is the legalism it condemns identified with Judaism. Similarly legalism and what is meant by
the gospel are simply two aspects of what may be the same verbal formulation: they are simply different attitudes toward them...
"Sin is not error or wrongdoing or antisocial behaviour: the word "sin" has no meaning outside of a religious context. Sin
is the attempt to block the will of God, and it has no meaning otherwise, no social or moral meaning…
"That is the conception behind the gospel, the conception of a spiritual kingdom of which we are citizens and follow its laws,
but which cannot be incorporated into actual society in the form of legislation."
WHAT DO WE MAKE OF HEALING MIRACLES LIKE THIS ONE?
Let's turn to Frye again for a wonderfully expressed opinion on this topic. This quote is from 'The Double Vision of Time'
in his book The Double Vision:
"the Oriental scriptures tell us that very advanced stages of enlightenment bring miraculous powers of healing, but that these
powers should never be regarded as more than incidental by-products... If so, miraculous elements in the Gospels, which describe
a life lived on a plane of intensity that none of us have much conception of, should cause no surprise... Jesus performs his
miracles with reluctance, almost irritation; he imposes secrecy on those he cures; he tells his disciples that they can de
as well as that themselves. But the Oriental analogues may begin to give us some faint notion of what... sacred history really
There are a number of wonderful visuals on the web. The hole in the roof idea really shows up well in this one.
And here’s my personal favourite.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Which character(s) stand out most for you in this story? [looking for the friends]
3. Do you believe you have such good friends in your life?
4. Do you think you could be that good a friend to someone in your life?
5. What kinds of 'roofs' do good friends sometimes have to try to break through?
6. Do you think healing of this sort can happen?
7. Do you know of a story of it happening?
8. What do you think 'sin' means? ['attempt to block the will of God.']
9. Do you think healing can happen when people try to break down the barriers between what we want to do and what God wants
us to do?
10. How on earth do we know what God wants us to do?
Please find below suggested workshops for this unit. For each one, when you are in real time with the children:
1. Quickly review or recap the story with them before starting activity. Each week, see how much more detail each group of
kids can supply on the story they've been studying.
2. Link or explain your activity to the current story.
ARTS -- magnetic pictures
Why -- to make a memorable impression about the power of Christ
The basic idea for this can be found on the site for the kids' tv show Art Attack.
Show host Neil uses magnets behind the images to drive a little car around a roadside scene. (For photos of this activity,
go to the Art Attack site, go to the Ms, and look for "Magnet Picture."
But I thought if we used 2 magnets, we could "draw" the paralytic down from the roof toward Jesus (who has a magnet behind
Materials: thicker stock paper for scene, boxboard to form frame to stiffen picture, pencils or markers, scissors, tape, black
thread, paper clips, cheap magnet set with lots of cheap magnets (who wants to send the kids home with a magnet picture that
doesn't work once you leave the building!)
Follow Neil's instructions for getting started. For your scene, draw a house to one side and a garden for Jesus to approach
on the other.
Cut 4 figures from paper of -- Jesus, 2 friends, paralysed man on a hammock type of blanket. Tape the friends over house scene,
sticking up over picture. Cut 2 lengths of thread, tape one end to each of friends, and the other loose ends to each end of
para man fig.
To both Jesus and para man, attach a paperclip with a tape loop.
Start with friend magnetized to top of pic close to friends. You might want to attach a smaller magnet to the friend and a
bigger one to Jesus to get the para fig to slide.
Start with Jesus at opposite edge of pic. Slide his magnet toward the house and see if you can get the para man to slide down.
You can make this easier by just drawing Jesus on in the house and pulling the para man down by magnet toward him.
Cool idea, huh?!
KITCHEN - Pack up Your Troubles Nachos.
Why - By gobbling up the 'blanket' of cheese over the lumpy bumpy nacho chips, the children will remember the story of how
Jesus helped a disabled man roll up his blankets and get rid of his problems.
Ingredients: nachos, grated cheddar and mozzarella cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, refried or brown beans (ideas to
make the pan of problems even lumpier. Kids probably won't like all the goodies. Maybe set them out in small dishes for dipping,
to create a scene on the prep table of a rocky road.)
This activity is all about process. Talk about how the ingredients related to the story as you prepare. Make sure the kids
help put the blanket of cheese on nice and thick. Talk about how the problems are gone once the dish is empty!
DRAMA -- charades.
First brainstorm ideas on scenarios in which you would have to go out of your way/the extra mile, to be a good friend. In
other words to get a friend to see Jesus.
Break off into 3 -4 groups. Groups think how to present the scenario thru charades.
Why: use sound effects and action to reinforce key plot points of this bible story.
How it works.
**This concept is borrowed from the Beat Team segment in the children’s show 4 Square on Treehouse TV. If you have a
PC, you can view a clip online. Go to Treehousetv.com and follow the links. We Mac users would appear to be out of luck on this one!
Divide class into 4 groups or parts.
Brainstorm 4 different parts to produce together like a round.
Have groups practice separately. Then try each other's parts. Then come in in sequence like a round.
Take your Beat Box to another, perhaps younger class. Or share during worship at children's story time.
Suggestions for 4 parts.
1. Say, On the roof, on the roof, on the roof. Make climbing motions, or pretend to lug friend.
2. Say, Chop, chop, chop, chop. Make chopping motions.
3. Say, Gently now, lower down...gently now, lower down. Make hand over hand motions of lowering down a rope.
4. Say, Roll up your bed and walk. Mime rolling bedroll and throwing over shoulder with look of amazement.
COMPUTER -- comic or animated cartoon using KidPix
Why -- there's so much action in this story. It's the stuff of comic books. Simple computer stick drawings would work here.
Older children would enjoy the challenge of animation.
For younger kids, create 4 -6 slides for a comic using KidPix. These can be run as a simple slideshow.
For older kids may be able to get simple animation from KidPix 3 and 4. I'm no good at this, but the kids can figure it out
in a heartbeat. That's the assignment. Let them demonstrate their creative power!
REVIEW, ACTIVITIES FROM ROOF 1.
* Arts/shoebox diorama
* Kitchen/chicken soup in a bag
* Drama/click here for script for younger children. Here for a script for older children.
* Computer/Life of Christ.