About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch. 2:1-12   Ch. 2:13-17    ch. 2:18-22   ch. 2:23-3:6

Jesus Heals A Paralytic (ch. 2:1-12)


In verse 1 we learn that “Jesus came home to Capernaum ”.  This tells us that Jesus lived in Capernaum at this stage of his life and had a home there, probably with His mother and other relatives.


In verse 2 we see that once people heard Jesus was home “many gathered” at His place, so that there was no room left, not even outside of the door.  So Jesus took this opportunity to preach to them.


Four men came to the house carrying a paralytic man.  They could not get into the house so they climbed on the roof, put a whole in the roof, and lowered the man down in front of Jesus.


Houses in this time period in this general location were built of stone with flat roofs.  Stairs would be built on the side of the house, leading to the roof where there was often an upper room situated on top of the roof.


One might think that a passage way could have been made through this crowd so this man could get through, but not so.  Everyone at the house wanted to be there and there was most likely a great push to get in.  I was once at a Katherine Koolman meeting in Pittsburgh Pa.   We started standing in line at 3 AM.  The doors opened at 9 AM for a 2 PM meeting.  When those doors opened you were literally swept in with the crowd.  There was no way you could turn back.  There was no way one could make a passage way for others to get through.  It was next to a dangerous situation, because if you had tripped and fallen to the floor, you would have been trampled upon.  This was probably what was happening here at Jesus’ house.


In verse 5 we note that Jesus saw their faith.  I don’t think they were the only ones in the house that had faith.  There were others trying to push their way in to be with Jesus.  But in this case, these 4 men and the paralytic had to be creative in finding their way to Jesus.  Jesus saw this creativity and persistence and rewarded the sick man for it. 


Look how Jesus rewards this man’s faith.  Yes, the man did find healing but the healing was not the thing that Jesus initially addresses.  Upon seeing these men’s faith Jesus says, “son, your sins are forgiven”.  The Greek word “Aphiemi” is the word that is translated as “forgive” in the New Testament.  The root of this Greek word means “to send away”.  So to forgive a sin is to send away the sin.


When we think of sending the sin away we can look into the Scripture to see what God thinks about sending sins away.  In Micah 7:10 we see that God sends sins to the depth of the sea, never to be seen again.  In Isa. 43:25 we see that sins are blotted out and removed from God’s record, and if removed from the record book, and after removed there will be no accountability for them.  In Psa. 103:12 we see that sins are removed as far as the east is from the west.  These Scriptures show us that if God forgives sins then He has no more recollection of them.  They’re gone. They’re dismissed and cancelled.


This statement caused quite a reaction from the teachers of the Law.  They thought, “Why does this fellow talk like that?  He is blaspheming.  Who can forgive sins but God alone”. 


The question needs to be asked, “were the teachers right when they said that only God can forgive sins”?  With the understanding of sending away sin as seen in the previous paragraph, these teachers are right, Only God can send away sin in such a way.  Only God can forgive sin.  Only God can cancel sins from His records. 


One point we should thus realize then is that Jesus is in fact was God in flesh and therefore had the ability to send sin away, or to cancel and remove a sin from God’s records.


Another question can be asked, “when Jesus tells us to forgive, what does He mean, if only God can forgive sin”?  First of all you notice that Jesus told His followers to forgive.  He didn’t tell the world to forgive.  In John 20:20-23 the context of His followers forgiving sin is that Christians are sent out into the world on behalf of Jesus.  In the same way God sent Jesus into the world, so Jesus sends His followers into the world to represent Him, because He’s no longer on earth to represent Himself.  Thus as part of our job as representatives, we forgive sin on God’s behalf.  What we are actually doing is once a person repents and turns to Jesus, we then proclaim that his sins are sent away, cancelled, and removed from God’s records.  This is what forgiving another’s sins is all about.


There’s another aspect to forgiving sin and that is seen in Matt. 18.  I won’t go into the story but Jesus says that if an offender sins against you, you should go to him and point out his fault or sin.  The reason for this is to give the offender a chance to repent.  If he repents, you forgive him, resulting in reconciliation.  Then Jesus says in Matt. 18:18 that whatever is loosed on earth will be loosed in Heaven, and whatever is bound on earth will be bound in Heaven.  This simply means that if the sin is repented of by the offender, and if you forgive him, then the sin is loosed and sent away from your accounts, from your records.  But if the offender doesn’t repent, then he’s not forgiven and the sin still remains, is bound on earth as well as in Heaven.  So once forgiveness occurs on earth by us after the offender repents, God automatically and at the same time cancels the sin from His books.  In this way we’re working with God in the matter of forgiving sin.    If this understanding is correct, then we’ve got an amazing responsibility in working with Jesus in forgiving sin.       


In verse 8 we note that “in His spirit” Jesus knew what the teachers were thinking.  Jesus had the ability to see into people’s hearts and minds.  They had their questions for Jesus, now He presents a question to them.  So Jesus asks, “which is easier to say … your sins are forgiven you, or to say, get up, take up your mat and walk”?  Clearly in Jesus’ mind, it takes the same power and authority of God to remove sin from God’s book as it does to heal a paralyzed man.  Yes, only God can forgive sin, and only God can heal such a man, and Jesus is God in the flesh.


In verse 10 Jesus states why He said what He said. He wanted everyone to know that He had the authority to forgive sin.  This would not sit well with the Jewish religious authorities, because they viewed this as blasphemy.  Thus this is the number one reason why they wanted Jesus dead.


Jesus could forgive sins because He was God in the flesh.  He could also forgive sins because God sent Him as His personal representative.  In the same way that God sent Jesus to represent Him, so Jesus sends us to represent Himself.  So part of Jesus job was to forgive sin, and so part of our job is to forgive sin, that is with a slight difference.   We are not God in the flesh as Jesus was.  So the way in which we forgive sins is to pronounce God’s forgiveness on a person once they repent and come to faith and trust in Jesus.    Also, when we forgive sins against us, then God forgives that sin as well.  Thus in a round about way, we sort of help God cancel the sin from His records, but in reality He still does that.   


In verses 11 and 12 Jesus turns and tells the paralytic to get up and walk, and he does.  Everyone was amazed.  If Jesus says He can forgive sin, and only God can do that, then when He heals this man, everyone should realize that He was sent from God and is acting on God’s behalf both in healing this man and forgiving his sins.


The Calling Of Levi (ch. 2:13-17)


In verse 13 we see that Jesus “went out beside the lake”.  Some translations have the word “sea” instead of lake because Capernaum is on the Sea of Galilee .  As always now, wherever Jesus went a crowd would soon gather.  So He began to teach them by the sea shore. 


Verse 14 is where we see that Jesus met up with Levi.  Levi was a tax collector and was sitting in his booth.  This means that he was working, collecting taxes.  Jesus asked him to follow Him, and like the first four men Jesus called, Levi immediately left his work to follow Jesus.  Once again, the Holy Spirit must have been involved in the calling of Levi.  I’m sure Levi would have heard of Jesus, and maybe for Jesus to call him out like He did was thought to be special.  Levi might well have thought it a privilege at this point in time to follow Jesus.  Still I believe the Holy Spirit had spoke to Levi’s heart.


Levi is also called Matthew.  Levi is his Aramaic name while Matthew was his Hebrew name.  It’s often thought that Jesus called a band of simple young uneducated fishermen to be His disciples, but not so in the case of Matthew. He had to be fairly well educated in that society to do the job he did.  


Matthew was most likely what we would call a customs officer.  He would collect taxes from businessmen who brought their goods through Capernaum .  He was a Jew that worked for the Roman government, therefore all other Jews despised him and other Jewish tax collectors because they were seen as traitors.  Also Jews hated tax collectors because they usually exhorted them by charging them more money than they needed.  The tax collectors would keep the extra money for themselves.


In verses 15 to 17 we see that Matthew invites Jesus back to his house for a meal.  The problem results when Matthew also invites other tax collectors and so-called sinners to eat the meal with them, and why not.  These were his friends, the only people he knew.  Thus Jesus is eating with sinners, something the teachers of the Law and Pharisees would never stoop low enough to do.   But Jesus didn’t have a reputation to worry about as they did.   Therefore the teachers of the Law asked Jesus’ disciple why Jesus was eating with such people.


I’m not really sure at this point the disciples could answer this question.  This was early on in their relationship with Jesus, and maybe they had the same question in the back of their minds. 


Anyway, the disciples didn’t have to answer the question.   Jesus answered it for him. He tells the Pharisees that it’s not the healthy that needs a doctor.  It’s those who are sick.  He then says that He’s come for the sinner, not the righteous.  So He didn’t mind associating Himself with those who were viewed as sinners.


Jesus Questioned About Fasting (ch. 2:18-22)


We see in verse 18 that both John the Baptist’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting on this day.  Remember, at this point John the Baptist was in prison, So his disciples were still carrying on activities as normal.  The Pharisees had set days that they fasted, and this appears to be one of those days.  So some asked Jesus why were the disciples of John and the Pharisees fasting, but His disciples had just come from a big feast.  It’s a natural question to ask.


It should be noted that the Law of Moses only required fasting on one occasion and that was on the Day of Atonement. (Lev. 23:24)  The Pharisees fasted twice a week, more from a perspective of self righteousness.  They thought their fasting would make them more holy.


We see people fasting in Old Testament times beyond the Day of Atonement. This might then suggest that fasting was more of a voluntary issue than something to be obeyed because of a command.  And this makes sense because fasting is a form of humility before the Lord and humility must come from the heart as a matter of being voluntary and not forced.


In verses 19 and 20 Jesus gives the analogy of a wedding feast.  He says that if a bridegroom invites guests to his wedding, he’ll feed them.  He’s not going to invite them to a feast and not feed them.  That makes no sense.  Jesus compares Himself to the bridegroom as others do in Scripture as well.  So as long as Jesus’ disciples, which would be the invited guests in His analogy are with Jesus the bridegroom, they won’t fast.  But Jesus goes on to say, somewhat prophetically, that He will not always be with His disciples.  At that time the disciples will fast.  I don’t see this as a command from Jesus to tell us to fast.  I see this statement as a matter of fact.  His disciples will fast. 


Jesus also adds the phrase “on that day”.  On that day the disciples of Jesus will fast.  That might be a specific day, as in the day when Jesus ascended to Heaven.  Because the disciples went back to the upper room and spent much time in prayer, and maybe fasting.


Although this may be the case, many people simply say that during the church age, when Jesus is no longer on earth, Christians will fast.  They will continue the practice as in Old Testament times in the sense it is voluntary.  There’s no place in the New Testament that changes the voluntary aspect to fasting.  Jesus only says that His followers will fast.  When, where, why and how seems to be up to the individual.  If you look at fasting in the Bible you’ll notice that there aren’t really any rules.  Sometimes people abstain from all food, and sometimes from just certain foods.


So the topic of discussion in this section concerns fasting, but Jesus takes a step or two beyond the topic of fasting.  Underlying the fasting topic is the whole issue of Judaism, Pharisaical Law, and the Law of Moses.   Jesus addresses this issue with two analogies.


The first analogy is that you can’t have an old garment with a hole in it and put a new piece of clothe over the hole to repair the garment.  The old garment has shrunk with many washings.  The new garment has not shrunk but once it has been washed a few times the new piece of cloth will tear away from the old garment as it shrinks. You just don’t mix the two. 


Most people probably didn’t understand Jesus at the time.  We do because of hindsight, but what Jesus was saying is that there was a new way of doing things that will soon come, and you cannot mix it with the old way of doing things.


Some say the old way of doing things was merely the Pharisees Laws.  But I believe it is one step farther and that includes the Law of Moses.  There was to be no mixture between the Law of Moses and the Grace that would soon come.  And this is exactly what happened with the early New Testament church that was primarily Jewish.  They said that in order to become a Christian, one first had to become a Jew if he wasn’t already.  This caused great problems in the early church, but here in the early stages of Jesus’ ministry He was beginning to speak to this issue.


The second analogy that Jesus makes is that one doesn’t put new wine into old wine skins or else the wineskin will rip open and the wine will be spilled.  In those days people used goat skin to store wine in.  They’d actually skin the goat and keep the skin all in tact.  They’d sow up the holes where the legs and tales were and keep the mouth open and the wine would be poured through the mouth into where the goat’s body once was.  The skin was pliable and flexible at first when the wine was initially poured in.  But then after the wine was used and poured out, the skin dried out and became brittle.  So if you put new unfermented  wine into the dried out skins, during the fermentation process that skin would leak and even explode at times.


So here we have the same principle at work.  Keep the old and the new separate.  The new covenant will not work with the old covenant. But the tendency of Christians over the years is to mix the two – a little law and a little grace.  But this is not New Testament thinking.  Jesus wants no mixture.  Much could be said about this subject which I won’t get into now. 


This whole discussion which doesn’t last long is just a hint of what the New Testament is all about.  I doubt if anyone really understood what Jesus was really getting at.


Lord Of The Sabbath (ch. 2:23-3:6)


Some liberal Bible scholars point out a so-called problem in this section in that it seems to be out of order with the other gospel accounts.  But the fact is that Mark doesn’t seem to follow any particular order in his account.  There is a general order, but no specific order of events, so there should not be any problem with things being out of order since it wasn’t really Mark’s idea to put things in exact order.


In verse 23 we see that it was the Sabbath day and the disciples were hungry and as Jesus and the disciples were walking through a corn field the disciples stooped down and plucked some corn and ate it.  As usual, there were some Pharisees following them, trying to catch Jesus in some kind of offense, and they thought they had Jesus this time.


The Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples were not obeying the Law by plucking corn.  The Pharisees weren’t really interested in catching the disciples in an offense.  They wanted to catch Jesus and they figured that Jesus who Himself was not plucking corn, still allowed His disciples to pluck corn, thus He’d be at fault for allowing such things to be done by His followers.


Duet. 23:25 permits one eating a few grains of corn on the Sabbath if you are in a neighbours field, but you can’t put the grains in a basket and take it home with you. 


What is really happening here is that the Pharisees have massive amounts of interpretations to the Law of Moses.  So what they’ve done is take Duet. 23:25 and have interpreted it with many qualifications. They’ve actually got 39 things you can’t do with a grain of corn on the Sabbath.  It was one of these 39 things that the disciples of Jesus were not obeying.


Jesus replies to the Pharisees by reminding them that David one time ate the bread from the Temple , something that was not lawful for anyone to do except a priest.  Jesus is suggesting that there was no problem with this and that when David did it, God had no problem with it.


What Jesus was telling the Pharisees here is that they had poor hermeneutics.  They were picking out individual verses and not allowing other verses in the Old Testament to shed light on the topic at hand.  And another thing that the Pharisees were doing was relying too much on their own interpretation and not the Word of God itself.  This too is bad hermeneutics.  On both counts the Pharisees were wrong, yet even today many Christians fall prey to the same bad way of interpreting the Bible.  We make too much out of our own traditions and leave the Word of God out in the cold.  We also fail to let the Bible shed light on itself and allow our personal interpretations and traditions to take the place of what Scripture can say about itself.


What Jesus says in verse 27 is important, and it’s really the point that ends the conversation.  He says two things.  The first thing He says is that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”.  Both in the beginning before the Law of Moses was instituted and then within the Law, the reason why Sabbath rules were legislated was to give man a rest from his work.  Thus, the Sabbath was made for man’s rest.  The Pharisees had turned things around and made it feel like the reason why God made man in the first place was to subject him to binding Sabbath rules.  But this was not the case.


Then Jesus says that “the Son of Man is Lord over the Sabbath”.  By this statement Jesus was not saying that He and His disciples could do whatever they wanted on the Sabbath because He was in charge of what could or could not be done. Jesus had to obey the Law of Moses when it came to Sabbath rules, because He had to fulfill every Law by obeying it. He could not disobey the Law, neither could He encourages others to disobey it.  What He was in fact saying is that He as Lord was the one who had Moses write these Laws down to be followed.  And it was He who would fulfil these Laws in order that at a future date, meaning the cross, these rules would be laid aside.


One thing to note for Christians today and that is, we should not confuse the Jewish Sabbath with the Christian Sunday.  They are two different things altogether.  The Sabbath was a seventh day rest mandated by the Law.  It was on our Saturday.  The Christian Sunday obviously is not on Saturday, and it is not mandated by anyone.  It became a tradition of the church early on in church history, and anything done on that day in a spiritual sense is completely voluntary.  There are no set rules in the New Testament concerning things that should or shouldn’t be done on Sunday.  Any rules that one may follow are merely a tradition of the church, and must be seen as that. If anyone suggests that you can or can’t do certain things on Sunday because the Bible says so, then they don’t understand how to interpret the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. 


In verses 2 and 3 we see that Mark is still speaking to the topic of the Sabbath when he gives us another Sabbath day event.  This time Jesus was in a synagogue and all eyes were on Him.  Some of these eyes were just waiting for Jesus to make a slip, and do or say the wrong thing.


There was a man with a withered hand and Jesus told him to stand up in front of Him.


In verse 4 Jesus addresses the audience by asking if it was lawful on the Sabbath to save a life or to kill – to do good or to do evil.  Everyone was silent.


In verse 5 Jesus is angered at the silence and the stubbornness of their hearts.  We should note that Jesus was both angered and distressed by those in attendance.  So in this time of anger Jesus simply turns to the man and heals Him, as to say, “if you don’t have an answer for me, then I’ll just go ahead and heal this man despite what you think.


In turn the Pharisees got angry.  It appears they left the synagogue in silence, not knowing how to respond to Jesus.  They thus went out and plotted a way to try to kill Jesus.


In both of these Sabbath day examples we see the real reason behind the Sabbath Law of the Old Testament.  The rules were there to help the Jewish people, not to bind them in all sorts of legalism.  


In verse 6 the Pharisees began to plot against Jesus.  They joined forces with the group called the Herodians.  The Herodians were Jews who viewed Herod, and the family of Herods as the means Israel 's deliverance from Rome .  They viewed Herod as a Messiah.   



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