When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door.

While he was speaking to the people four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t get to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head, then they lowered the man on his mat.

Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting nearby thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”

Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? To show you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins -” Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said – “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

The man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the crowd. The onlookers were all amazed and praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”

Then Jesus went out beside the lake again and taught the crowds that were coming to him. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” said Jesus. So Levi got up and followed him.

Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many such people among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I haven’t come to call the righteous, but the sinners.”


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