Mark’s Gospel Account begins rather quickly and is off to the races, so to speak, recording the great things Jesus did. Chapter 1 ended with the account of Jesus taking pity on a leper, touching him, and healing him. Jesus is still telling those He ministers to to keep His identity quiet, though they rarely obey. While it is unmistakable, even at this early point in His ministry, that Jesus is the Christ, the children of Israel were not clear on what the Christ had come to accomplish. That largely due to the false doctrine of the chief priests and elders… but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let us continue reading in the second Chapter of the Gospel According to Mark.
Jesus’ fame preceded Him, such that He could not longer openly enter into a town with a mob forming. Fame is largely a thing unto itself, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that the famous one is godly (though in this case there can be no doubt of the Godliness of God the Son) nor does it indicate that the throngs of fans are gathering for the right reasons. Mark tells us that shortly after His healing ministry began, He had to spend much of His time in desolate places and entered cities discretely.
Mark 2:1-12 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Paralytic
2 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them.3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
Mark gives us specific details here of an account that must have covered hours of Jesus’ preaching. Firstly, He was preaching the Word to those gathered. The false teachers in our day, those holding healing-crusades (not in hospitals or hospices… go figure) will spend a great deal of time talking… but not preaching the Word. They’ll be preaching themselves, their experiences, their escapades, and they’ll be priming the emotional pump of the gathered people so that they can get lots of money from them. Here, Jesus is Preaching the Word… and upon seeing the faith of the men who went to great lengths to get the paralytic to Jesus… Jesus forgives the man of his sins. That is the Greatest gift we sinful, fallen creatures can receive… the forgiveness of our sin. The people there understood the gravity of His claim, though they weren’t ready to accept the claim as anything but blasphemous at the time. Jesus then heals the paralytic as a demonstration of His authority to forgive the paralytic’s sin. The Greater gift, was that of forgiveness. Notice that no one accused Jesus of blasphemy for healing… but they were worried by the Absolution pronounced by Christ. The greater gift, is that of the forgiveness of sin… for that paralytic, though healed, would still die a mortal man, and afterward face the Judgement. But having been forgiven of his sin… Praise the Lord for His Mercy and Grace.
Mark 2:13-17 (ESV) | Jesus Calls Levi
13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The scribes weren’t merely questioning Jesus’ choice of dining establishment… they were questioning Jesus’ willingness to make himself ceremonially unclean, according to the tradition of the Elders. The Pharisees added much to the Law, and demanded ceremonial washing in their home just from having been in the market, for fear of having been made unclean by the sinners in the market. Now, this Jesus is eating in the home of a sinner at the table surrounded by sinners… how is He so comfortable making with risking becoming ceremonially unclean?? Jesus makes His point abundantly clear… He didn’t come to the Earth to avoid sin… He came to heal sinners, for He is the Great Physician. Again, in Mark’s brevity there is no detailed account of what conversation took place at this meal, but I’m confident that the LORD Jesus Christ was again preaching the Word to them.
Mark 2:18-22 (ESV) | A Question About Fasting
18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting according to tradition. Jesus’ disciples were not fasting, and the accusation here is that they were guilty of sin for disregarding the fast. Notice how Jesus responds by declaring Himself greater than the fast. His presence is likened to that of the Bridegroom… wedding guests don’t fast while with the Bridegroom! What we learn from the other Gospel Accounts and the Epistles (Hebrews in particular) is that the Mosaic Law was a shadow of the Perfect that was to come, that being Jesus, God the Son. Jesus assured them that once He would be taken away from them, His disciples would indeed fast. The reference to the patch and the wineskins is often taken out of context and used to justify a “god is doing something new” theology where people are encouraged to let go of tradition and orthodoxy in order to embrace whatever wind of doctrine begins to blow. That’s reckless and abominable teaching. Jesus is indicating to them that His Advent, His very Presence on this Earth as the Messiah, the Son of Man, will bring an end to the Mosaic Covenant and He will be establishing a New Covenant, one established by His Blood shed and His Body broken for us. New Wine (Christ’s Blood) in a New Wineskin (New Covenant for peoples of all Nations, Tribes, and Tongues).
Mark 2:23-28 (ESV) | Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath
23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
Praise the Lord. In a short chapter, Mark has demonstrated Christ’s Authority to Forgive Sin, His identity as the Messiah, the Bridegroom, and His Lordship even over the Sabbath.
Until Next Week
Next week we’ll be working through chapter 3. This will not be an exhaustive study, we’ll only be scratching the surface of the text, but we will work through the text each week. I pray it serves you even if only by prompting you to read the text and skip my comments.
Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus,