A family attends a wedding. The teenage daughter sees a fairy tale wedding with a handsome groom and beautiful bride in a Cinderella gown. The middle school brother eyes the snacks and cake. The mother notices all the special touches and the well organized work in putting it all together.
The dad wonders, “How much did all this cost?”
We all have our points of view about things—this includes the synoptic Gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
For instance, let’s look at the healing of the paralytic man. The man can’t walk, so four friends carry him to Jesus for healing. The problem is they can’t get in the crowded house where Jesus is teaching. The friends are so determined that they carry his pallet up the side steps to the roof and let him down through the roof right to Jesus.
Jesus notices the faith of the friends to go to all this trouble and says,
“Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5
Listen to the thoughts of the teachers of the law as they watch this startling scene unfold.
“Why does he [Jesus] talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 5:7
Knowing these thoughts, Jesus says,
“Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘You sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” He said to the paralytic, I tell you get up, take your mat and go home.” Mark 2:8-12
When the paralytic does exactly that, the crowd is totally amazed, and we hear no further comment from the teachers of the law.
Now here’s the point of view from each of the writers: Mark is from Galilee where this event takes place. Flat roofs are made with mats of branches spread across wood crossbeams. On top of the mats is a thick layer of clay packed down with a stone roller. Hence,
…they made an opening above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat… Mark 2:4
Luke, on the other hand, is from Greek territory and is primarily writing to Gentiles. Their roofs are generally made of tiles. In order to make sense to his readers, Luke describes the scene this way;
…they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd… Luke 5:19
As for Matthew, the lowering of the mat from the roof was not of particular interest to him. He is more concerned with the other parts of the story, so he doesn’t even mention the roof!
This is one of many incidents where it is helpful for us to read each account because we might learn fresh perspectives from each one. I will relate a few more in coming weeks. I hope you enjoy.
~ Joyce ~