The Man Let Down through the Roof

Workshop Leaders’ Bible Study

This workshop leader’s Bible study is a historical, theological, and contextual introduction to the “Man Through the Roof” rotation of Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest workshop rotation program.  It is intended to provide workshop leaders with:

·        A historical context for understanding the Bible story.

·        A Biblical context for reading and teaching the story.

·        The theological basis for the concepts to be taught to the children.

In Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest program, workshop leaders attend a one-hour Bible study two weeks prior to the start of a new rotation.  This Bible study helps workshop leaders understand how the concepts to be taught to the children are derived from the Bible story and how the lessons in the rotation fit together to reinforce the concepts.  It also provides an opportunity for the workshop leaders to grown in their own faith and understanding of the Bible.

It will be helpful to have a chalkboard, whiteboard, or flip chart for writing down questions or observations during the Bible study.


Mark 2:1-12

Memory verse for this rotation:

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.  1 John 3:18


·        Jesus showed he had God's power to heal and forgive.

·        Our faith in God helps others.

·        We show our faith in God by helping and praying for others.

·        God forgives us even when no one else does.

Prayer Concerns & Prayer

Begin the Bible study by asking for prayer concerns and praying for God’s guidance as teachers begin a new rotation.  If workshop leaders do not know each other, give them an opportunity to introduce each other and say which workshop they will be leading.

Reading the text

Ask a workshop leader to read the text aloud.  Ask the workshop leaders what questions came to mind as they heard the story or read it before the Bible study.  Write down any questions that arise and will need to be answered during the Bible study.

Historical Context

How do we understand sickness?  Discuss our understanding of sickness as a result of virus, germs, injury, etc.  For first-century Jews, there was a connection between sickness and sin.  Any physical ailment was a manifestation of a deeper moral failing.  People got sick because of their sins.  To be forgiven, the following must happen in this order:

1.       The “sinner” must show that the physical ailment has been healed.

2.       The sinner must be ritually cleansed by a priest.  This is done by taking a ritual bath: a precursor to the Christian notion of baptism.

3.       The sinner offers a sacrifice.

Once these things have happened in this order the sinner can be said to have been forgiven.[1]

Biblical Context

We can see these understandings of sickness and sin at work in the Gospel of Mark.  To get at the meaning of this story, it is important to note two details from previous stories.

1.       Have someone read Mark 1:21-34.  This is a series of healing stories that occur at Capernaum, the same setting as Mark 2:1-12:

a.       First of all, in, Mark 1, Jesus heals a man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue at Capernaum and “[Jesus’s] fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee” (1:28). 

b.      Next, Jesus heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. 

c.       That very evening, still in Capernaum, Jesus heals many people at Simon Peter’s house while “the whole city was gathered around the door” (1:33).

In this series of healings, two points to note will be important for understanding the narrative of Mark 2:1-12: (1) Jesus’s power to heal has been powerfully demonstrated.  (2) Everyone—the whole city—saw the healings.

2.       Have someone read Mark 1:40-45.  This is another healing story that occurs outside of Capernaum.  When Jesus leaves Capernaum and heals the leper who came to him, Jesus tells the leper to adhere strictly to Jewish law:

a.       “Go, show yourself to the priest.”

b.      “Offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded.”

Jesus adheres to religious requirements for forgiveness: (1) healing, (2) ritual cleansing, (3) offering a sacrifice.  Jesus knows and understands what is required by law.  Furthermore, he adheres to this requirement.

Have someone read Mark 2:1-7.  In this healing story, when Jesus returns to Capernaum, he disregards Jewish law even though he understands it and has adhered to it in the past.  In this story healing and forgiveness do not take place in the order that is understood and accepted by first-century Jews.  Instead, the following happens:

1.       The man’s friends, at some sacrifice of time and effort, offer the man before Jesus.

2.       Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven,” thereby proclaiming him clean.

3.       Jesus heals the man.

So one key to understanding this story is to understand the point Jesus is trying to make in disregarding the requirements of the law.  He proclaims to a man who has not even shown the first evidence of forgiveness that “your sins are forgiven.”  Why are the Pharisees shocked?  Because Jesus is proclaiming as truth what Jewish law says is impossible: if there is no healing there can be no forgiveness.  By subverting Jewish law (literally turning it upside down!), Jesus claims his authority over it.  The man’s sins are forgiven outside of the requirements of Jewish religious ritual.  The healing is proof of the truth of Jesus’ claim to have authority to forgive sins.

Have someone read Mark 2:8-12.  Why do the people say, “We have never seen anything like this before”?  We just read that the whole city has witnessed Jesus healing and casting out demons.  What is it that they have never seen before?  A man who has the power to forgive sin.

Modern Context

So how do we turn this into a message that children can understand?  The paralytic had absolutely no access to forgiveness.  No one was willing or able to believe that his sins were forgiven, because he did not exhibit the physical evidence.  Certainly the Pharisees, who were experts in religious law, would never be able to believe that the man’s sins were forgiven.  But Jesus did.  What did Jews have to do to be forgiven?  Be healed, be cleansed, offer sacrifice.  What do we have to do to be forgiven?  Profess or show our faith in Christ.  Maybe not even that.  Maybe it is enough to trust and believe friends who profess or show their faith in Christ.  In this way we are priests to each other.  In Matthew, Jesus says, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18).  Binding and loosing are the language of forgiveness.  In Matthew, Jesus teaches his disciples that by virtue of their faith, they have the power to offer each other God’s forgiveness.  This is what we do in worship when we confess our sins, hear the assurance of pardon, and then pass the peace.  We are declaring to each other God’s forgiveness. 

It is this power to heal and forgive that Jesus demonstrates so vividly in Mark 2:1-12.  Just as we are priests to each other in the liturgical practice of confessing sin, assurance of pardon, and passing the peace, so too were the friends of the paralytic priests to him.  Their own faith in Jesus was enough to elicit from Jesus a demonstration of his power to heal and forgive.

Workshop Summaries

Ask each workshop leader to summarize his or her workshop.  As they do so, point out the concepts that each lesson reinforces.  Ask workshop leaders if they have any questions about the logistics or practical application of their lesson.

Jesus showed he had God's power to heal and forgive.

·        Apostles Playhouse

·        Creation Station

·        Good News

Our faith in God helps others.

·        Antioch Arcade

·        Good News

·        Holywood

·        Praising Puppets

We show our faith in God by helping and praying for others.

·        Apostles Playhouse

·        Antioch Arcade

·        Creation Station

·        Holywood

·        Praising Puppets

God forgives us even when no one else does.

·        Good News

Review Questions

Return to the questions that were gather at the start of the hour.  Have they been answered?  Are there any further questions about the Bible story or about the lessons?

Optional Lectio Divina exercise

Teaching is about sharing our faith with children.  We share the faith by:

·        Sharing scripture

·        Sharing our theological tradition

·        Sharing our own experience of faith

Workshop leaders have a unique opportunity to share their own experience of faith because they have five weeks to dwell with the story just as the children do.  If you have time at the end of the hour, give workshop leaders an opportunity to share their own responses to the story in the following lectio divina exercise:

1.       Read Mark 2:1-12, listening to the text and savoring a word or phrase that beckons you, something that addresses you personally, stirs you, unnerves you, comforts or disturbs you.  Dwell with the word a few minutes.  Use mutual invitation (see below) to briefly share the word or image.

2.       Read Mark 2:1-12 a second time and think about a personal experience of forgiveness, either a time when you were forgiven or a time when you forgave someone.  Try to relive that experience in your imagination.  Use mutual invitation to briefly share the experience.

3.       Read Mark 2:1-12 a third time and discern how the word or the image, memory, or feeling evoked by it relates to your current situation.  How does it connect with your life right now, your home, work, community, or the world?  Reflect for a few minutes on this connection.  How is God present to you in this scripture?  What is God like for you through this scripture?  To what is God calling you through this scripture?  Use mutual invitation to share your response.

Mutual Invitation

Mutual invitation is a process of community Bible study developed and explained by Eric H.F. Law in The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 1993).

In order to ensure that everyone who wants to share has the opportunity to speak, we will proceed in the following way:

The leader will share first.  After that person has spoken, he or she invites another person to share.  Who you invite does not need to be the person next to you.  After the next person has spoken, that person is given the privilege to invite another to share.  If you do not want to say anything, say “pass” and proceed to invite another person to share.  We will do this until everyone has been invited.

Closing Prayer

End the workshop leader’s Bible study with prayer.

[1] “Purity” in Harper’s Bible Dictionary (New York: HarperCollins, 1985), p. 843.