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MARK CHAPTER TWO
In the last section we noted that Christ was introduced onto the scene by John the Baptist a man who stood out from the crowd to say the least. John was a bold and refreshing voice for God and many people flocked to him, yet he passed them on to the Lord Jesus Christ. John knew he was temporary to the scheme of things and that Christ was to be the focus of attention.
Christ set about healing, preaching and drawing to himself the disciples that would be the focus of His attention for three years. They would be taught personally by the Lord and prepared for the ministry that each would have.
Mark 2:1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. 2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. 3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. 4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
The press of people was great yet He willingly ministered to those that came.
This is one of the accounts that sticks out in my mind from early Sunday School in a church where I do not recall ever hearing the Gospel. I recall this account well and it seems many times yet I was never instructed in the simple message of the Gospel. I was taught of the faith of the men, of the healing and of the taking of the bed, but never of the Savior that was the focus of the text.
Several years later at a sunrise service at the same church I was left to wonder why Christ was hung on the cross, why we had gotten up so early for a breakfast and a film. “What was the big deal with Easter?” were my thoughts as I saw an actor hanging on the cross. I spent many years in that Sunday school, in the youth group, in vacation bible schools, and junior church and I had no idea as a teenager what Easter was all about. It was not until a Bible church pastor down the street took me to the Gospel, plain and simple that I knew what I needed in my life - it just made total sense when he told me that Christ died for me and that I could have forgiveness for the sins of my life.
My how the Gospel can change the heart, but the accounts and teaching can only change the mind. Be sure to give the Gospel now and then no matter if you are a pastor, a teacher, or a youth leader. There may be someone sitting under your ministry that needs to hear those wonderful words that can give their life complete meaning before God.
Capernaum means "village of comfort" and was on the west side of the Sea of Galilee which is also called the Lake of Genessareth or Lake of Tiberius. It is near the river Jordan on the northwest side of the sea. The Jordan actually begins north of the sea and flows into the lake as well as out of it. The Jordan begins north of Lake Huleh and flows south through Huleh andGalilee and into the Dead Sea. The river is the result of multiple rivers flowing into it.
When it mentions that Jesus preached, the term is normally translated speak. It is not the word related to preaching in the New Testament, but rather the idea of speaking or teaching. It relates to the ability to articulate with the tongue. He was simply sharing His word with those that would hear.
This might be a good example of how we should be sharing Christ with others. We should be speaking with them, conversing with them rather than all the hype, programs and preaching that we so often see being done around the country.
“Palsey” according to the Lexicon is weakness of limb or disabled. The man was unable to move on his own so was carried by friends. He was unable to make the trip by himself is the point and those that carried him must have had some special association with the man or with the Lord and His ability to heal.
Referring back to those Sunday school days I was taught that in the Holy Land the houses had flat roofs and the roofs were made with large tiles which could be removed. The lexicon indicates that the effort may have been more than just lifting something up and moving it and also mentions it could relate to thatch, however I am not sure just how much interpretation is in that term. At any rate the men opened the roof to allow them to lower the sick man into where the Lord was ministering.
Now when I see rescues by helicopter I wonder just how safe that is - swinging at the end of a cable. These men did not have a winch nor cable, but probably ropes to lower him into the room with the Lord. The man must have had a little faith in just this process of getting to Christ to request healing. Are the ropes going to hold, will they slip, will those guys be able to hang onto the rope, will they be coordinated enough to let me down somewhat level - without dumping me into the crowd?
This may relate it trusting our friends and church members to assist us when we have troublesome times. It might also relate to church members being available to assist those having hard times.
We are not given much indication of what the bed really was. Again, back to Sunday school it was always pictured as a thin mattress, but it could have been more substantial - we don’t know and it probably relates little since the healing is the important issue.
When Christ saw "their" faith - the term translated "their" can relate to multiple people or an individual. As to where the faith was residing we are not told, however there must have been faith on the part of all involved. Those carrying him would have had some amount of faith or they would not have gone to all the trouble, and the man as well must have had some faith or he would not have bothered with the trip or the bothering of his friends.Christ’s response to the man was that He forgave him of his sins. The term forgiven is in the perfect tense and passive indicating it was done from without the man himself and it was a done deal, not something that will or might be done, but that it was done and to a perfect and complete end.
Now we will cover the result of all this later, but just a quick note. The man was told to leave, he left and glorified God. Humm. If this was done by a faith healer today there would be a commitment card to fill out, a tithe promise to fill out, and a commitment to attend all services yet Christ told him to leave and go home. Some thought on this situation might be beneficial.
When someone is won to the Lord in your church is it a victory for God or a notch in the handle for the church. Do you try your best to keep them in your church or if they have a church do you encourage them to go back to it - yes, assuming it teaches the Word.
We ought to disciple them if at all possible but it doesn’t have to be in our church in particular. There is nothing wrong with encouraging new converts to stay, it is rather natural, but if they have other roots allow them to flourish elsewhere.
Someone once observed that we are becoming keepers of fish bowls rather than fishers of men. It has also been observed that many fish in other peoples bowls instead of going into the world to fish. God has many ponds.
Luke mentions that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law present and that they had come from all over the countryside to hear Him. Now I would not want to relate the preacher of today to Christ and His teaching but there is an application here. Christ knew that trouble would come. It might have been easy for Him to have toned down his rhetoric to keep it from coming so soon yet He just preached the message He had to give.
I am sure that He knew who these men were and why they were there, yet there is no indication that He changed His message one bit. Years ago I was asked to preach at a large church. I prepared as usual and was ready to share my message. As I sat down at the beginning of the service I looked out over the congregation and saw the president of a Bible college and a number of professors from the same school. My mind raced to consider my message and whether it would be adequate for that audience. Soon it was clear in my mind that God had led in the preparation of the message and God is their God as well as mine so I must be properly prepared. As I stepped to the pulpit I had nerves a bunch, but I was prepared for the occasion and God prospered the time in the Word. Don’t worry about the audience that you stand before, just prepare properly and allow the Lord to get you ready for any occasion. YOU are HIS messenger - just deliver and let Him worry about the details.
I am not sure how many city codes these men violated when they went up on the roof and broke up the roof to let the man down. I’m sure one for being on the roof, one for improperly mitigating the dust below as they opened the roof, and at least one or two for endangering the man’s life as they lowered him down with substandard elevation methods. They did what was needed to do the job and their faith was rewarded.One might wonder at the reaction of the audience below that were listening to the Savior when the noise of the men on the roof began, then the dust from the roof disassembly, then the shock of someone being lowered down.
Imagine this happening in your church. How large a commotion would that be to your church service? All the self righteous like myself wondering who these jerks were interrupting our service! You might consider beforehand how you will take care of interruptions in a service.
Example: How would you react to seeing a large man slump forward in his seat unconscious?
How would you react to a man walking in the back door and loudly asking who owned the van parked across the street especially when he went on to declare that it was illegal, was unsafe and a dumb place to park? How would you react to someone in the congregation raising their hand and asking if they could ask a question about the Bible teaching evolution?
Don’t stress over it, but do consider it since this sort of thing happens from time to time and a smooth transition to care for the situation is needed before the situation arises. Thinking through some situations and having some sort of plan would be good. Deacons/ushers should be included in your thinking. In the case of the man becoming unconscious, the deacons moved in quickly to assist in getting him up and out (he was by then conscious) and the service went on without much of a hitch. A little less attentive the congregation was, but they came back rather quickly.
1. What an application for the pastor that arrives on the field. Identify yourself with your message, choose some men to disciple, rebuke the incorrect establishment and assist the needy.
Do that and you certainly will not be popular in the current church climate where all is fuzzy wuzzy and no waves.
The same application will go for anyone really. We all ought to find some people to disciple and teach them as you go along ministering. That is the natural course of things in the Bible. 2 Timothy 2:2 was not included for nothing. "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also"
As to anyone that is lost and without Christ, this is quite a confrontation. He is set forth by God as the Son of God, coming to earth to care for the lost. He either came to save the lost or He was a tad on the crazy side to reveal Himself as such.
2. The four men bringing their friend to Christ give us the idea of teamwork. As believers get together to do the work of the Lord the task becomes more manageable and easy. Doing it "MYSELF" works but it is usually rather difficult and probably full of pride. It should be obvious that doing it as a team will get the work done faster and more effectively.
All too often in churches where there are multiple pastors the problems begin. Some want to do it themselves, others do not want to do it this way or that way and the idea of "TEAM" is lost in the shuffle to impress the congregation so that the job is more secure.
I recently observed a little neighborhood church that was in dire need of paint, but the church only has a handful of members most of which are women and seniors. I wondered how they were going to get the work done since their finances are very limited as well. I was given my answer this week when I saw the women of the church out scraping paint. They had gotten together to fill the need and were doing it as a team.
3. There is also the thought that these four men thought enough about their friend to go to all the effort required to get him before the Master. They could have found excuse upon excuse, but they went so far as to raise the roof over the issue.
Oh that such concern be shown in our churches today. Often people go on for months hurting in all sorts of problems and trials with no one in the church knowing. Why? No one is really talking in the church today. We have our greeting times that get that out of the way in three minutes or less and we do not have to worry about getting involved.
I recently purposed to ask each and every person I shook hands with in the greeting time "How are you this morning?" Probably 25 people shook my hand but not one responded to my question. Why? No one is listening in the church today - shake hands, say good morning and heaven forbid anything else go on in greeting time otherwise they will not be able to shake enough hands to feel good about themselves.
4. Now there is one person who is not mentioned in the raising of the roof. The homeowner. This man must have been quite the person. Personally if someone was climbing on my roof they would get hosed off immediately. If they started tearing up the roof 911 would be in order. What was this man doing? Why was he so patient with the four men? He must have been quite a man to allow his home to be so messed up for spiritual purposes.
Uuuuuupps, how about you? Do you open your home for church related items? Do you offer to transport people in your SUV? Do you open your garage to projects and youth get togethers?
Our favorite mantra as believers runs along the lines of "everything I have is God’s" well except my house - I will not open it so that people can come through and mess up my home.
What is it that the New Testament mentions of the elder and his hospitality? Hospitality is a generous way to show your love to the brethren. It is an easy way to share what you are and what your Lord has done for you with others.
Years ago we were invited to the home of a construction worker and his wife for the afternoon. We went home with them and they showed us around. We sat and talked for several hours then they took us for a ride around their town. After supper we returned to the church for the service.
The man was common in the realm of occupation but I found him to be a giant in faith. He shared many things from his life and how God had helped him triumph through adversity. I felt honored to have met the man and listened to his testimony. The man and his wife used what little they had in their small row house to share with other believers.
We ought to open our homes to other believers and allow God to bless others instead of keeping our homes as our little sanctuaries. Use what you have been given to the maximum advantage for God.5. In Mark 2:5 Christ said to the man "thy sins be forgiven thee." and he also healed the man. Christ met both the spiritual and the physical need of the man. So when we meet people’s physical needs we ought to attempt to meet their spiritual needs. On the other hand if we meet their spiritual need we out to attempt to meet their physical need as well. Not to say that we must or that we can, but a serious attempt should be made.
Years ago we used to stop to assist people on the road. Breakdowns usually, and enjoyed the ministry for many years. I would attempt to fix the car problem while leaving tracts for the people to read when I left. If they needed a ride we would give them a lift and witness as we drove.
Often we would get the reaction that the person never thought anyone would stop. What an attention getter for someone to want to read a tract from someone out of the blue. One night very late we were able to get a man’s car running for him and as we drove off, as far as I could see he was reading the tract via the dome light in his car.
Meet both needs if at all possible. Some may not be interested in one or the other. We stopped to help a young lady who had a stalled car. She wasn’t interested in help with the car, only a ride to where we were going. She was late for a skydiving get together and didn’t want to wait for the car.
As we drove she began talking about Ralph. Finally I asked who Ralph was. She excitedly told us of the skydive’s god Ralph and how Ralph always took care of them when they were skydiving. We had a chance to tell her about the God that is over Ralph but she was not interested. I reminded her that if her chute did not open, that Ralph was not going to be around and that she had better cry to our God.
She wanted neither physical nor spiritual help, but she knew about our Lord before she left the car. God can take care of the rest of the story.
6. Some speculate that after Matthew was called that he invited Christ to dinner so that Christ could talk to all his friends. What a great opportunity for a believer to talk to old friends - friends that knew the old version of their friend.
When God called me to the ministry I had made plans to go to Bible College and was waiting for the move to Texas. My brother and I went to visit one of my brother’s friends one evening and in the conversation my brother mentioned that I was going into the ministry.
My brother’s friend’s reaction was "What? Stan Derickson is going to be a minister? Wow!" He knew there had been a drastic change in this person and was totally shocked at the change.
Be sure to take some time to share your Lord with your old friends so that they might have opportunity to know His life changing power!
7. There is perhaps a loose application to the wine in wineskins and material in material. Wefind the world has many religions. They all claim to have the truth, indeed many have some truth however there is only one true God and that is the God of the Bible. Many religions speak of the Bible within the context of their man made teachings but all are putting new into old and disaster is always the result.
When you become a believer you must put off all that was before in way of belief and follow the only truth we have and that is the Word of God.
The Roman church does not bother with this for they just move into an area, adopt the ways and beliefs of the people and stir in a little of their own doctrine as they see opportunity. They adapt their teaching to fit into the culture and ways of those they would reach. Truth just isn’t that moldable.
The Word tells us that man can only come to God through Jesus Christ. No angel, no book and no man can provide a path to God other than Christ.
8. Just a note from Constable that would make a basis for a good study relating to Christ’s view of Himself and how he presented Himself to the public.
"Jesus used the title "Son of Man" when He spoke of His sufferings and death (8:31; 9:9-13, 31; 10:33, 45; 14:21, 41). He also used it when speaking of His future return in glory (8:38; 13:26 32; 14:62). Thus He used this title to blend the concepts of the Suffering Servant and the Messiah in His readers’ minds. It also connected Him with mankind as the Son of Man. Still He was the man with "authority on earth to forgive sins," the Judge."
9. Some find a contradiction in 1.25-26 where Mark mentions that Abiathar was the high priest. This was referring to 1 Samuel 21:1-6. I Samuel mentions that Ahimelech, Abiathar’s father was the high priest. It is assumed that Mark used Abiathar since he was the more prominent high priest of the time.
10. Ralph Earle in His book The Gospel According to Mark, p. 49 quoted in Constable, brings up an interesting point, "Human need is a higher law than religious ritual." This is in the context of the Jewish leaders faulting the Lord and His disciples for doing certain things on the Sabbath. How does that relate to working on Sunday?
The Sabbath was made for man to use, to recuperate, man was not made for the Sabbath, to serve it, to abide by ritual etc. related to it.
11. Christ was declared by the Father to be His Son, the Son of God and in this chapter we see Christ declare Himself as the Son of Man. Now, that folks is theology even if you detest theology, you have just studied theology. It amazes me how many pastors/teachers deride theology, yet teach it all the time. They think they deride the intellectual, yet in my mind they deride themselves by showing their ignorance.
If a person is teaching the whole Bible they are teaching doctrine and theology - fact even thoughthey may deride, ridicule and put down theology and doctrine.
Christ was just as much God as if He had never been man and just as much man as if He had never been God. Someone else said that originally, but I like the quote and use it often for it puts the doctrine of the God-man across quite accurately.
Christ knew exactly who He was and knew that He must declare Himself accurately to the people. Not that the people liked how He defined Himself - the leaders took great exception with his claim to deity.
No, we are certainly not Christ, however He is our example. If he knew who He was and what He was here for then certainly we also should know the same things. We ought to understand who we are in Christ, and who we are in the grand scheme of things - or in the mind of God if you want the more technical terminology.
What are you to be doing? Where are you supposed to be? Who is it that you are to be ministering to? We are told that we are ministers of reconciliation - that implies that we are to be working with people on an ongoing basis. Is there a special people who you should be ministering to? Maybe somewhere else in the world, maybe in your own town or your own church? Spend time with God and ask these questions and request the answers from the one and only one that can give those answers.
Know what you are to do with your life before it is over and too late. Find out if God wants you to be a pastor, a teacher, or a missionary. Don’t worry about the qualifications, find out and then move toward that end. He will provide the way and the means, you just move.
He may tell you He wants you as you are, where you are and that what you are doing is just right but give Him opportunity to have input into your life.
Don’t sweat it if He hasn’t made a call on your life - I doubt the disciples had given God’s service much thought before the Lord called them. Rather out of the clear blue. Not unlike many modern day ministers of the Lord that have received and responded to a totally unexpected call.
A stuttering reclusive not overly bright television repairman was called on the dark road home one evening - not out of the clear blue, but out of the clear black - a call to minister the Lord’s word. I had no idea God wanted me, I had no hint that He could ever use me, and I was totally shocked/blown away at His request.
12. Life application Bible gives us a little further information about Capernaum and Tax people at this time in history. "Capernaum (2:1) was a key military center for Roman troops as well as a thriving business community. Several major highways intersected in Capernaum, with merchants passing through from as far away as Egypt to the south and Mesopotamia to the north. Levi (Matthew), a Jew, was appointed by the Romans to be the area’s tax collector. He collected taxes from citizens as well as from merchants passing through town. Tax collectors were expected to take a commission on the taxes they collected. Most of them overcharged and vastly enrichedthemselves. Tax collectors were despised by the Jews because of their reputation for cheating and their support of Rome. The Jews must also have hated to think that some of the money collected went to support pagan religions and temples."
13. Just contemplate the Jewish leaders for a moment. They are well trained in the Old Testament, they know of the Messiah, they look forward to the Messiah, they long for the Messiah, yet when they are in the same room with Him they reject Him because He is not what they were looking for. The Jew of this time was looking for a Messiah that would conquer the Roman’s and set up His kingdom RIGHT NOW, they were not looking for a Messiah that was healing, and worrying about people’s sin.
They could not see Him as the Messiah because He did not fit their profile of Who He was to be.
Today there are many that reject men of God because they don’t fit the profile. If they don’t take on the dress, the demeanor, and the rest of the profile specific characteristics they cannot possibly be a minister of God. Sad that so many have been rejected because they do not fit the mold. Many that could have contributed so much to the Church have been rejected and held outside the normal church circles because they did not fit the profile of the present day church.
If you do not dress casual, if you do not swing your hips, if you do not preach fuzzy wuzzy feel good "talks" you are not one of us.
Imagine the Jewish leaders when they died and faced God - knowing that they had been in the same room with God’s Chosen One and they did not recognize Him for Who He was.
14. Do not concern yourself with what the roof was like, there are all sorts of ideas and none are more valid than another - we don’t know. Most agree that there were stairs to the roof and flat roofs on houses of the time period, but beyond that there is little agreement. Roof materials from clay to wood to straw to mortar to tar to ashes are mentioned. One commentator goes into great detail that it wasn’t really a roof they took up but only a curtain that was covering an opening. The roof is not the point of the account so do not get stuck on it.
15. Do not allow interruptions to sidetrack you from your appointed purpose when ministering. In one small church a man raised his hand and wanted to ask a question in the middle of my sermon. I recently saw a pastor baptizing people when a young boy did a cannon ball into the baptistery. I will not comment on what I thought of the boy, but the man recovered as best he could in a terrible situation. People have died in the middle of services, so just continue the best you can when interruptions come along.
Remember however Christ took his interruption to heal the man. You might well have a great opportunity to minister unexpectedly.
16. Life application Bible brings up an interesting idea about verse 17 where the Lord says he did not come for the righteous. The authors relate this to a dig against the Jewish leaders. They hold that this use of the word translated righteous would be the idea of SELF RIGHTEOUS. Indeed,that is a possible use of the word as in Luke 18:9 "And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:"
Christ may well have been saying I am not here to help those that think themselves righteous, but those that know they are in need.
It is rather interesting that in the physical realm we all know when we need a doctor, but in the spiritual realm we do not always seem to know that we need spiritual assistance. Possibly in both cases we know, but we just rationalize the symptoms away and/or ignore them.
In the last twenty plus years I have gone to the doctor yearly with a long list of problems. He just sits and listens and declares each one as part of aging. One time He interrupted the list and said "Come on give me something hard!" Kind of makes you happy you are paying that kind of prices for a comedian. At any rate, we often go overboard worrying about symptoms, but at other times ignore serious problems thinking they are simple.
There might be a side application here, but one should be careful in the use of it. Possibly we ought to use the same tactic with the self righteous - pay them no mind until they realize that they have a problem. Do not allow the problem go on without making it known to the person, but if they are unresponsive then going to those that know their need might be a wiser use of your time.
Mark 2:6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Mark 2:7
Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
Luke mentions that Pharisees and doctors were present while Mark mentions the Scribes. All of the spiritual leaders were represented before the Lord. One must wonder if Paul might have been present at some of these gatherings. It was only a few years between this point and the Lord meeting him on the road to Damascus so it is quite possible.
Imagine this group of scribes sitting in the crowd mulling all they are seeing over in their minds. The brain activity must have been generating humongous telepathic waves in the area. These guys must have been fuming in their minds. The sad part is that they had no clue as to who Christ was. They were totally in the dark. They knew nothing of the nature of this man who they were wondering about - not much different than many lost people we mingle with on a daily basis. They do not know Him because they do not know anything about Him.
From all polls and surveys the American Christian may not even know the one they serve all that well. Many give lip service to Christianity but have failed to make it a personal belief. Many espouse Christianity because that was the way they were raised, but if you dig into their beliefs they know little about the true nature of Christ.
Once man knows who Christ is, we know that anything He says or does is the perfect thing for Him to do because He is God - one that is perfection.
Their question betrays them. They have observed Christ forgiving sins, they know that only Godcan forgive sins, thus they wonder at why He is saying these things - they have automatically rejected the idea that He might be God. Not unlike many lost today. They assume that God does not exist, so they are left with tons of questions about why things are the way they are.
Mark 2:8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Mark 2:9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? Mark 2:10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) Mark 2:11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. Mark 2:12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
The phrase "when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves" is of interest. The term translated "perceived" is the Greek word that is normally translated "know." It is in the active voice which would suggest that it was something known from within, not from without, as in the Holy Spirit giving this knowledge.
Matthew uses another term which means "know" but it is translated "Jesus knowing their thoughts" while Luke uses the same term as Mark. Again it is translated "perceiving." Mark and Luke’s term has the thought of knowing well.
Now, I do not know, because we are not told, but I suspect this "knowing" was related to something many of us have experienced. Sometimes when you are in a situation you just know what people are thinking. We are thinking beings and we can put two and two together. Here is Christ presenting a kingdom, He is healing people, He is forgiving people and He sees the "religious leadership" in the group. Offhand it is not rocket science to determine that Christ knew a little about the situation. Add to that the body language and facial expressions that would have been obvious to the Lord and it was probably obvious to Him what they were thinking.
Years ago we visited the niece of someone that we had met on deputation. She was in the Juvenile lock up. She was a typical know it all teenager that could do no wrong and did not understand why she was there. One Sunday she came out and flopped herself down in a slump in the chair totally disgusted. She began ragging on the staff for getting on her case about body language - well duuuuuh, I can certainly see why. After relating what we were observing she began to realize the correctness of the staff.
When you are in meetings with people, just be observant of body language and facial expressions - you will know much about what is going on in people’s minds. It can be of great benefit. As Christ used His knowledge of their thinking to form questions, you can do the same to further God’s work. Often you can head off traps by sharing information before someone in the group tries to lower the boom on your head.
Christ then confronts them with their thoughts. SHOCK time! "How in the world did He knowwhat we were thinking?" might have been on their minds now. Matthew reads "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts." That just had to be a shock to their intellectual highbrow systems! This guy heals, He reads minds and now He calls our thoughts about Him evil! What is that about?
Now, imagine you are in a business meeting and you know someone is laying for you and you can tell by their body language that they are about to spring and you open their minds up to the rest of the folks gathered. I am not suggesting you use this ability to know people to "get" them but to allow you to run meetings to the Lord’s best advantage and to avoid meetings that degenerate into problems. Use your God given abilities and senses to His advantage.
Christ asked them if it is easier to forgive or heal. Both take acts of God if you want to know the truth. They must have known this in their minds.
Christ presents the leaders with this question, then turns to the ailing man and says that to give the man knowledge that the Son of Man has power to forgive, he then healed the man. It is not clear, but it would seem that the ailment was due to sin, since forgiveness of sin was the basis of the healing.
Luke relates that the people were fearful due to what they had witnessed. Now it is not clear what caused them fear. Was it the ability of the Lord to forgive sin, was it His ability to heal, or was it the ability to seemingly read minds. Then again it might have related to the Jewish leaders being confronted in such a manner. Imagine the leaders being embarrassed in front of you and knowing you have to go to services with them on the Sabbath. All might be related to the fear that the people felt. (Some translations show Matthew using fear as well but the King James translates it "amazed.")
At any rate the folks were in a mental dither over what they had witnessed. They ended in glorifying God which is always good and the end result of man no matter what our condition of mind - we are to glorify Him with our lives and minds.
The man who was healed, just took the situation in stride and did not get overly excited it would seem. Just did what he was told - picked up his bed and left - which might indicate it was light enough for one person to carry thus probably a mattress instead of a four poster.
The man is pictured in Luke as glorifying God but all three accounts treat it rather matter of factly - picked it up and left. All three accounts speak of the forgiveness of sin which might indicate that sin was a part of the ailment. This is not always true in sickness, but often is. Be sure to take some time to consider your life when sickness comes along. The Spirit is usually quite able to show you if sin is related.
Mark mentions "We never saw it on this fashion." and Luke says "We have seen strange things to-day." while Matthew mentions "glorified God, which had given such power unto men." It would seem that Matthew fills in the “what” of Mark and Luke’s observation of the activities of the day. God had given great power - power that they had never seen, power that was strange to their normal life. In short this rocked their world. They were taken aback by their observationsof this man with the new teaching.
I’d guess these folks went home considering just what was going on. Wondering what their response should be to such activities and teaching.
Mark 2:13 And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.
It would seem that he could not get away from the people. They knew He had a message they wanted to hear and they wanted to be sure they did.
The term "resorted" is normally translated "come" or to come from one place to another. I do not know why they picked a three dollar word for a thirty cent term but it just mentions that the people came to Him. It also simply makes the statement that He "taught them."
We might suggest that the application might run along the line of anyone that is ministering the Word of God will find people coming to them to hear. Pastor, when you are tired and someone shows up on your doorstep, just minister. Teacher, when you are tired and someone shows a need for learning, teach. Helper, when you are tired and someone needs a hand, just help away.
Today a teacher in many churches just cannot teach a full month of Sunday school without a break. Many Sunday schools have "team" teaching where one person teaches for a week or two then the other so they don’t get tired. Christ ministered as long as people were there to listen. We ought to have the thought that we will do the same. We are not in this life to rest we are here to work for our Lord - not that you would know that from all the people sitting idle in the pews in our churches.
Mark 2:14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
Matthew identifies Levi further as Matthew and Luke identifies him even further with the phrase "a publican." Levi was a toll taker, probably not one of the more popular folks to deal with. Every time you saw him it cost you money. My father was the county treasurer in our town for many years. People would come from all over the county to see him, but it always cost them money - he gathered taxes of several sorts from the public.
Unlike my father, when called Levi responded immediately. My father heard the claims of Christ, but never to my knowledge accepted Him (though he may have at some point before his death). Levi just up and went with Christ. He did not stop to take care of business, he just followed. In fact Luke adds "And he forsook all, and rose up and followed him."
Leaving all is the cost of following Christ properly. He may not ask us to leave all our worldly possessions, but we need to be willing to walk away from it all on a moments notice to honor Him. We know that Levi did not immediately leave everything because in the following verse it mentions that Levi fed the Lord in his house.Just what is a publican? The Lexicon mentions that they were tax gatherers; they were a class of society that was viewed by the people as detestable. They were not a class that people wanted to associate with, yet Christ saw something in this man who he wanted as a disciple.
Easton mentions that the publicans often farmed the tax gathering out to others. They would gain the job from the Roman government then hire others to collect the taxes. These underlings were not always honest in their dealings thus the hate for the tax gatherers of the day.
Mark 2:15 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
Christ called Levi, but soon was in his house for a meal. Might we suggest that the man of God should be hospitable? Indeed isn’t one of the qualifications for elder related to this (1 Timothy 3:2
“given to hospitality”)?
I must confess that hospitality is not high on the priority list in many churches today. Hospitality today often means inviting someone out to lunch or dinner, seldom to the home for a meal.
Hospitality has to do with inviting into the home, it has to do with showing an interest in the person and it has to do with a genuine caring for the person - note the term genuine. Often it is done automatically as part of the office rather than a real care for people.
The King James translates the next phrase "as Jesus sat" which really states "as he lay" in the Greek. The term translated "Jesus" is the word normally translated "him" and the term translated "sat" means "lie."
Not only were there publicans and sinners in Matthew’s house with Christ, but there were MANY of them present.
I would guess that this dinner had already been arranged when Levi was called and he just invited the Lord to dinner that was about to begin. At any rate, the dinner is going on, Christ is on the floor eating surrounded by publicans and sinners.
No matter what you want to see in this passage do not read into it that it is okay to live among sinners as sinners live. He was invited to eat and that is what He did - He responded to an invitation, this was not his normal lifestyle. Feel free to accept an invitation to a dinner where sinners will attend - nothing wrong with it - just do not make it your lifestyle.
Years ago a pastor that loved golf died. His obituary and the article in the local newspaper barely mentioned the fact that he was a pastor, but took great pains to show how highly esteemed he was at the local golf course. He had made golfing his lifestyle rather than pastoring his flock in the eyes of his community. I had to wonder how his congregation felt to see such an evaluation.
Note might be made that there were publicans and sinners present. Since there are two groups mentioned, one being a class and the other a general term for lost people, one must wonder ifthere was not a specific purpose in listing the two thusly.
Possibly that the only people who would associate with publicans were sinners? The term translated "sinner" relates to one that is given to sin. The distinction might be that there were people given to sin, there were publicans and the "religious" non-sinners were not present.
Since there is no mention of discomfort on the part of the Lord or His disciples we might assume that they felt quite comfortable dinning with this lot of people. Indeed, is this not the case when we enter a restaurant? We enter in to eat with a mixed variety of people and there should be no discomfort for the Christian. The problem would arise when the Christian feels more comfortable with the lost than with the redeemed.
Don’t forget to share your faith when you are with the lost and have opportunity. That is how the church will grow.
It is normal for people to feel more comfortable talking over a meal than just meeting as strangers and beginning a conversation. Take advantage of such situations and use the opportunity to share the gospel with them. Often they will listen even if just out of courtesy.
We are not told that Christ did any teaching but they were there because they wanted to be with Him. Both Matthew and Mark mention that Christ was sitting and the publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him.
Now had that been THIS person sitting, the people probably would sit elsewhere, but in this case they desired to be with Christ. Years ago in a ministry with a number of other folks when we had pot lucks now and then the wife and I would get into line first and go to a table and sit down. We often noted that the rest of the group would congregate at other tables leaving us to sit alone. I would smell myself to see if that was the problem, but it never seemed to be :-) The other times when we were last in line the one table was filled and we had opportunity to sit alone also. We did not try getting into the middle of the line to see what would happen.
Consider Matthew’s situation. He had just agreed to follow Christ and here he is mixing Christ in with a bunch of his old coworkers that are despised at best by the rest of the population.
I would assume that these "sinners" may have really been the dregs of Jewish society as well. They are set apart as "sinners" in a world that is full of sinners. These must have really been SINNERS.
None of us should look too closely as we gaze down our noses at these sinners. We all were once sinners, and indeed many of us were probably SINNERS. We all needed to sit with the Lord for a dinner of saving grace as did this group of Levi’s friends.
All too often the sinner saved tends to feel the rest of sinners are really the dregs when indeed we all were once the same. Let not pride be a problem in your life!
Mark 2:16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
It is of note that the naysayers were questioning the disciples, not the Lord Himself. Maybe they had learned already that they could not win talking with Him. Not unlike complainers of our own day, instead of going to the pastor, leader or teacher with whom there is a problem, they go to everyone in the church first and do their complaining. It is a good standard to set for yourself if you have a problem with someone, go to them to deal with it - do not go everywhere else in the church trying to understand things.
It is clear when you read all three of the synoptics that both the Pharisees and the Scribes were involved in the questioning of the disciples. It is also of note that the Scribes were under the thumb of the Pharisees. The text calls the Scribes "their" Scribes (Luke 5:30).
This is not a proof text to go out into the pubs of the world to eat and drink in order to witness but it certainly is a proof text that we are to have contact with the lost of our generation and be the witness that we can be to them.
It is also a text that illustrates the "SPIRITUAL leadership” of the ages - nose bent out of shape at those that are trying to do the work of the Lord. They are the fault finders of the world and most generations have had them. People who think it should be done only their way and that anyone doing anything else is absolutely wrong.
Over the years these "SPIRITUAL" ones have climbed my case to let me know I am not doing it their way. To which I usually replied to them with a loud message that I thought that was a good thing. Many times I have done the “not acceptable” at the time, but these things turn out to be - in time - the norm. One such was education by extension. I took two degrees by extension in a day when it wasn’t acceptable. Today it is the norm to consider extension to save costs and relocation costs both material and immaterial. Of course the educational snobs still look down their collective noses at such degrees, but the Lord uses us lowlifes anyway.
If you feel God leading you to something, just do it, don’t worry about the spiritual naysayers they will naysay no matter what you do most likely anyway. God has a plan for each of us and if it means extension degree, then that is what He wants. If it means a hard seminary degree then follow Him. It is the Lord that knows what He wants you to do in the future and it is the Lord that will prepare you as He sees fit - in that light what difference do the naysayers make? None.
Christ was working among those that needed His message and the spiritual leaders had a problem with it. Christ ignored them and went about His Father’s business as each one of us must do while ignoring those that would detract from God’s best for us. Follow God not the detractors and you will find a smoother path.
Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
The glaring application of this verse is the fact that Christ Himself, the one that healed people time after time tells us that the sick need doctors. Now if Christ told us that, why would the faith healers of the world tell us differently? He knew his healing was a temporary thing. He knew that the gift of healing would soon pass. He knew that doctors were the only hope for the sick so why would we not accept His word and reject the foolishness of the healers of our day.
Yes, James speaks to healing and that is part of the church instruction. If the doctors are not doing the trick call the elders of the church. Note carefully from the context though that James indicates strongly that the sickness he is speaking of is caused by spiritual problems. Thus go to the doctor for your physical problems, and be sure the spiritual is on track as well.
Christ continues to mention that he is there to call sinners to repentance, not the righteous. The righteous are already repentant and ready for the kingdom, but the sinners have not heard the message nor have they given heed to that message. (Rather hard to heed something you have not heard :-)
Mark 2:18 And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? Mark 2:19
And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. Mark 2:20 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
Several things to note:
1. The disciples of John fasted. We know that he preached repentance as preparation for the kingdom and since his disciples fasted, it must have related to that repentance and/or preparation. Fasting must have been a practice in the Old Testament since John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees practiced the ritual.
2. The disciples of the Pharisees fasted. One might conclude that since these men were strong proponents of the Law, even though they strained at the letter of the law, thus their fasting might indicate that the Law required fasting in some manner.
Nehemiah 9:1 pictures all the children of Israel fasting in sackcloth and dirt. This was in the context of reading of the Word and confession of their sins. In Esther 4:3 the Jews were shown in sackcloth and ashes fasting. In Psalms 35:13 fasting is in the context of sackcloth and ashes as well. See Psalms 69:10 also. Daniel 9:3 mentions confession once again, thus part of fasting is related to getting right with God as well as prayer.
Psalms 109:24 mentions being weak in the knees because of fasting. "My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness." This would indicate more than just giving up one meal a week for prayer time, though once a week is preferable than not fasting.
Jeremiah 36:6 mentions a fasting day thus the Jews in the time of the prophets had a day set aside forthat purpose. Daniel 6:18 mentions the king fasting all night and in the context of not sleeping and no music. We might draw from this that the Jewish thought of fasting was to go without food and possibly sleep and amenities such as music.
Thus far we have seen nothing from the law itself. It seems more of a common practice for the common person rather than a national or spiritual leader sort of item. It was called for as a people at times, but individuals as well are shown fasting. The term is also missing from the early part of the Old Testament and seems to be something that was in place in the time of David (there is one reference in Judges), but not much earlier. Most of the references begin in the Psalms and Nehemiah.
The concept of food in relation to God is not new. In Exodus 12:1-51 we can recall the Jews were told to take a lamb and eat it before the angel of death was to cross Egypt taking the firstborn of every house. Food or no food has a specific relation to God at times in the Word. It should be assumed that the Pharisees fasting was on these ideas in the Old Testament, though possibly not wholly on the law.
Bible makes the following comment about fasting. "Fasting is both an outward sign of humility and regret for sin, and an inner discipline that clears the mind and keeps the spirit alert. Fasting empties the body of food; repentance empties the life of sin."
Fasting is not an item we hear much about in the church today. If we hear the word it is usually in the Scripture reading rather than any instruction. We hear nothing of fasting because the draw to McDonalds and Burger King is too great. We hear nothing of fasting because we are in too big of a hurry to take time to do such things, since fasting also usually requires time in contemplation or prayer and we can’t do that. Eating can be done on the run, fasting takes time away from the hustle of the day.
3. The disciples of Christ did not fast. It is of note that Christ’s response was not from the Old Testament nor from the coming message of grace, but from the disciples relationship to Him. This is not a dispensational issue, but a Messianic issue.
4. Christ prophesied of his coming death ("the bridegroom shall be taken away"). This would be the first indication to the disciples and the public that He was going to be crucified, though the crucifixion itself was still unknown to them.
5. Christ spoke directly to those that had gone behind His back to talk to the disciples.
6. If the disciples fasted not while Christ was with them, then does it not follow that when we are with Him in eternity, we will not fast? It seems logical to me.
Note should be made that this is a strictly Messianic context and Christ speaks of the Bridegroom. Some in recent years have suggested that the bride of Christ is the Jewish nation. This might be one good proof text to that thought. Others suggest that the bride is the Independent Baptists that follow that belief. While others would suggest that the church is thebride of Christ.
Since this is a Jewish context it might, on the surface, seem Jewish in nature, however the disciples were the foundation of the church. I believe that Christ was looking through his Messianic message to the message of Grace that He knew was the outcome of His life on earth.
Mark 2:21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.
I never understood this passage until in Bible college when a professor explained that if you put new cloth into old that shrinkage would result in tears when the cloth is washed. The reason I could not wrap my brains around it was that my mother was constantly patching my clothes when I was little. She would find something similar or maybe not and patch things so they would last a little longer. Since this was normal for me how can Mark know what he is talking about when he recorded this passage? I didn’t realize that my mother was using "old" material to patch "old" material. There was no shrinkage so there was no problem.
This and the next verse relate to the context of the disciples not fasting. Christ was relating to the listener that you don’t patch this new teaching of His into the old ways of John or the Pharisees. Rather a blunt statement to the Pharisees - you are old and I and My teaching are new and the two should not be sewn together. Too bad the Judaizers of the early church didn’t catch His drift!
Likewise the wine illustration pictures the same idea, that new should not, or more to the point cannot be put into the old. Had the pastors that brought their contemporary music into the churches considered the Lord’s teaching we might not have had so many split churches and distanced older generation folks.
Mark 2:22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles. Mark 2:23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. Mark 2:24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? Mark 2:25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he and they that were with him? Mark 2:26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests and gave also to them which were with him? Mark 2:27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Mark 2:28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
I once was given a Bible study course from the Seventh Day Adventists. I took the one on the Sabbath because I needed to cover the topic with a Christian woman who had been married to a Seventh Day man, but had been a member of our church for some time.
The slickness should have been evident to me for there must have been an oil slick on the sheet. They started in the Old Testament and pointed out what the Sabbath was and quoted a few verses from the Old Testament and ended by using Mark 2:28 "Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath." That was the end of the study and you were left with the impression that the New Testament had nothing more to say on the subject.
Well in fact the New Testament does have something to say both with its words and with its silence. The words tell us that the early church met on the first day, not the last day. The silence screams that the Ten Commandments are all restated in the New Testament EXCEPT FOR ONE the Sabbath commandment.
I might also point out that THE SABBATH IS SATURDAY, NOT A RE-MADE SUNDAY preachers! So many pastors/teachersmake this mistake. The Sabbath is Saturday and this has never changed. The cross did not magically change the Sabbath to Sunday. The Sabbath is Saturday and Sunday is the Lord’s day, the first day of the week.
Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Mark 2". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany