Mk. 2:1-Back in Capernaum “at home”. Jesus has made Capernaum His base of ministry.
Mk. 2:2-10-A man that is a paralytic cannot get to Jesus…so his friends decide to help him. The reason he cannot get to Jesus is because of the crowds standing around (:4). Is there ever a time today when people get in the way of others who want to come to Christ? Obviously, Jesus knew something about this man that we are not aware of…because rather than address his physical problem, He addressed his spiritual problem. We assume that the reason that his friends brought him was because of his physical problem. Could it be that he wanted to see Jesus because of his sin? But Jesus wasn’t through. He knew what the scribes were thinking. And, He knew that they were right. Only God can forgive sin. So, Jesus heals the paralytic of his physical problem…as a demonstration that He had the authority to forgive sins, a spiritual problem. What’s the connection? Many people in that day believed that sickness was the result of sin. So, when Jesus healed the man of his sickness, in their eyes, He was ultimately healing the man of his sin…giving him forgiveness. In this way, He was demonstrating visually His authority to forgive sin.
Mk. 2:13-17-The calling of Levi (Matthew) and the gathering of tax-gatherers and sinners…“there were many of them and they were following Him”.
For an explanation of who tax-gatherers were and what they did see:
In the incident we just read about with the paralytic it was the “crowd” that was keeping him from being able to come to Jesus. In this case, it is specifically the religious people (:16) who have a problem with “tax-gatherers and sinners” coming to Jesus. They are appalled that Jesus is eating and drinking with them. Jesus tells them that those that think that they are healthy (have no need for spiritual healing, forgiveness) will not go to the doctor. In other words, the scribes and Pharisees will not come to Him for forgiveness…because they don’t think that they need it and because they don’t think that He can give it. But, those that know that they are sick (they recognize their sin) will go to the doctor (come to Him for forgiveness). When Jesus says, “I did not come to call the righteous…”(:17)…He is speaking of the self-righteous (those that think that their good works make them righteous), not those that are truly righteous (those that know that only God can make them righteous).
Mk.2:18-20-Jesus says that He and His disciples do not practice fasting in the manner that the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees did. The reason is that fasting (which involved acts of contrition and mourning) was not compatible with the joy that His presence among them brought. There would be time for them to fast later, after He had departed for Heaven.
Mk.2:21-22-If a piece of cloth that had not been “shrunk” (washed and dried) was added to an older piece of cloth that had been shrunk…it would eventually shrink when it got wet and would tear apart from the piece it had been added to. An old wineskin had already been expanded to its limit by the fermentation of the wine that had been put into it. If you fill it again with new wine…it will burst because the new wine will ferment, but the wineskin cannot expand any further. Jesus is telling them that His new message will not fit into the old traditions that the Pharisees and other religious leaders had developed. It wasn’t that His message was different from what God had previously given. But, that the religious leaders of the Jews had built astructure of practices and observances around God’s original message that was incompatible with the message of Jesus. In fact, it was actually incompatible with the message of the Old Testament, but they didn’t realize it. Their structure was based on the letter of the law (their interpretation of it) and not the spirit of the law (Jesus’ interpretation of it).
Mk.2:23-28-Here we find one of those very practices that the Pharisees had developed. It was Rabbinic tradition, not the Old Testament law, that forbade what the disciples were doing. Yet, the Pharisees enforced their traditions with the same authority as the law of God. Jesus makes it clear that God established the Sabbath to be a blessing to man…not a burden. The Pharisees had so structured their observance of the Sabbath that man became a slave to it. This was typical not only of their observance of the Sabbath, but of every area of life. They had added laws and requirements to virtually everything that was done…to the extent, that the law had become a burden that could not be borne (cf. Matt. 23:1-4).
For a list of the 613 Commandments that the Jews found in the Torah see:
For an explanation of what the Mishnah is, see:
Jesus has established…
A New Authority (2:3-12) that authenticated His claims as Messiah
A New Following (2:13-17) that attracted the religiously unacceptable
A New Celebration (2:18-20) that was based on His presence
A New Relationship (2:21-22) that exceeded mere religious practice
A New Understanding (2:23-28) that identified the purpose of the Law
Prayer: Lord, don’t let me be the slave of tradition, or anything that would hinder Your work in and through me. Help me to accept You completely…as You are…and not try to force You into my preconceived ideas. Lord, You shape me, instead of me shaping You.