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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
Mark 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-17

The Healing of the Sick of the Palsy

Mark 2:1-17

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

1. How Christ's meetings were advertised. Our Lord's Word and His work was sufficient to assure Him a multitude, whithersoever He went. He moved among the people in a quiet and even in an humble mien. When He spoke He was accustomed to sit down. When He healed the sick or raised the dead, He did not sound a trumpet before Him, yet all the people sought Him.

We are coming more and more to the conviction that after all it is a plain, positive, and Holy Ghost indued message that people want to hear in our day. The world is getting weary of the flash of Broadway and of the glare of its white lights. Depression and distress, poverty and almost famine, sorrow and sighing fill the hearts of an ever-increasing mass of men.

What the people need is a messenger sent from Heaven with a power which is of God.

2. What Christ preached. The last statement of the 2d verse carries a wealth of meaning. It reads thus, "and He preached the Word unto them."

The Lord Jesus could have found many other things to preach had He sought for them. There were many thing's which He might have preached, however, "He preached the Word."

Did not Paul say to Timothy, "Preach the Word, be instant in season, out of season"? Did not the Apostle Paul write of himself, "Paul * * an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God, * * concerning His Son"? On another occasion did he not say, "We preach Christ"?

It is the Word of God which is sharper than any two-edged sword.

It is the Word of God which is like the rain and the snow coming down from Heaven, and causing the earth to bring forth and bud.

It is the Word of God that is the fire and the hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces.

The unsaved are born again by the grafted Word. The saved are built up by the Word. The path of the just is lighted by the Word. Can we not therefore, as believers, appreciate the statement concerning Christ,

"He preached the Word unto them"?

I. ONE SICK OF THE PALSY (Mark 2:3-4 )

1. The sick of the palsy was borne of four. Perhaps that day in the crowd that filled the house and pressed the doors, the Lord observed the absence of the four followers. Where were they? Would they not have enjoyed His testimony? They would. Would they not have delighted in His presence? There is no doubt of it. However, they had gone to seek another and to bring him to Christ.

It took four to bring the one, but it was not a waste of time or of energy. Would that we had more people ready to go out into the highways and hedges and constrain the people to come in. Would that we had more men who had a heart for those who wander, for the absentees and non-attendants at the House of God.

2. A hindering crowd. As the four brought the sick of the palsy to the meeting, they found that they could not come nigh unto Christ for the press. Everybody seemed more anxious to see themselves, than to let some one else see. They were peering over each others' heads. They were pressing through, the best they could to get a sight of the. Master. They had no thought and no care, however, for one who needed the Lord more than they.

We have seen the time, as an invitation was being given in some church service, when, pinned in the middle of a seat, there was a man who sought the Saviour. Tears were in his eyes. A sob was in his heart. On either side of him and between him and both aisles were saints filling his only path of egress. They stood with their hymnbooks raised, singing with their might. They knew it not, but they were hindering one who wanted to get out that he might come to the altar for prayer.

Let us be helpers and not hinderers. Let us seek for the lost and not crowd them out from God.

3. An undaunted purpose. The four men had started with the sick of the palsy determined to lay him at the feet of Jesus. The press of the people at the doors could not deter them. Upon the roof they climbed, carrying the bed on which the sick man lay. The tile they removed, then carefully they let down the bed whereupon the sick man lay.

4. The responsive Christ. When Jesus saw their faith, the faith of the four, and the faith of the sick of the palsy, he said, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee."

The four had faith or else they had never gone to bring the sick of the palsy. The sick of the palsy had faith or else he never would have suffered himself to be brought. Our Lord said, "According to your faith be it unto you."

So when He saw their faith, there was nothing to do save to heal the sick. When faith grasps the hand of God, it grasps the power that rules the rod.

II. THE FAULTFINDING SCRIBES (Mark 2:6-7 )

1. The ever-present critic. We wonder if a sermon has ever been preached when there were not some people present who were chronic faultfinders, some sitting there who had not come to worship but to criticize. It was so with our Lord. How wonderful was He! How matchless were His Words! How unspeakable were His miracles! In such a one there could be found no fault. He knew no sin, and He did no sin. He was ever thoughtful and filled with compassion.

However, all of this did not stay the hand of the scribes, nor did it quiet their reasoning against Him. They had made up their minds before they came that they would not accept the Lord Jesus. Their purpose was not to be taught but to contend.

We remember how the Apostle Paul wrote, "All they which are in Asia be turned away from me." He said, that Alexander the coppersmith did him much harm. He said, "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world."

He also said, "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me."

Hard it is to understand, and yet it is true that even the Lord was despised. Some rebuked Him because He sat with sinners and ate with them. Some said that He had a demon, others cried that He was a glutton and a winebibber. Against all of these Jesus did not contend. Such reproofs as He uttered were reproofs of love and of pity. Let those of us who seek to serve the Lord expect to be maligned, misrepresented and misunderstood.

2. The cause of their criticism. The Lord Jesus had said unto the sick of the palsy, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee."

The critics said, "Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?"

Thus we behold that their antagonism began with their negation of Christ's Deity. Had they known that He was God, they would have known that He could forgive sins.

We are led therefore to grant that sometimes the bickering and the strife of people against their pastor or against some other leader in the Word and Work of God is brought about by misconceptions and misunderstandings.

We are sure that the scribes should have known better. We are sure also that the modernists, whom we call destructive critics, should also know better. They speak against One whom they know not. They criticize One who is entirely foreign to their faith.

Christ came unto them from the Father but they knew Him not. He came with the Words of Life but they received Him not. He extended unto them His hands of love but they came not unto Him.

They cried out, "Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies?" and yet they themselves were blaspheming the Christ, the Son of God. They cried, "Who can forgive sins but God only?" and yet, they themselves could never be forgiven of their sins apart from the God-Man whom they were criticizing.

III. THE OMNISCIENT CHRIST (Mark 2:8 )

Our key verse says, "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?"

1. The Lord knew what was in man. He knew it from the throne in Heaven; He knew it when He walked among men; He knows it now. Who is there who can fly from His Spirit, and hide away from His face? Our Lord has beset us behind and before.

The omniscient Christ! Such knowledge is too wonderful for us. It is high. We cannot attain unto it.

The omniscient Christ! Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? Is there anywhere that we can go that He will not find us? If we ascend up into Heaven, He is there. If we take the wings of the morning and hie us away to the uttermost parts of the sea, He is there.

The omniscient Christ! If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me," even the night shall be light about me. When we think of Christ, we must remember that our substance was not hid from Him. From our mother's womb, He was there. He knows our downsittings and our uprisings and understandeth our thoughts afar off. Thus it was that immediately Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned against Him.

2. The Lord questioned man. To His critics Christ said, "Why reason ye these things in your hearts?" We would like to ask every critic of our Saviour the same word, "Why?" Has the Lord Jesus done anything worthy of death? Have those who criticize Him any real reason for their condemnation? Shall the unclean deride the clean? Shall the impure defame the holy? Shall the unforgiving ostracize the merciful, the tender, the kindhearted?

In other words, how can people cry out, "Away with Him," "Let Him be crucified"? How can they thrust the sword into His side and drive the nails through His hands and His feet? How can they press His brow with thorns?

IV. A QUESTION OF AUTHORITY (Mark 2:9-10 )

To the reasoning and questioning of the critics, Christ responded by asking them a question. They said, "Who can forgive sins but God only?" He replied, "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?"

1. The secret back of Christ's question. In the Gospel of John, we have, in chapter 2, the working of Christ's first miracle in Cana of Galilee. The water having been turned to wine, we read, "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory."

In the 5th chapter of John, Christ said, "The same works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father hath sent Me."

Now, to the statement of the scribes that God alone could forgive sin, Christ responded that it is as easy to forgive sins as it is to say to the sick of the palsy, "Take up thy beef, and walk." Then He added, "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,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed."

Our Lord Jesus wrought where no one had ever wrought. His miracles were miracles such as no human, unless panoplied with power Divine, could work. Christ cured the sick of the palsy, the leper, the woman bent double by Satan's power, the demoniac of Gadara. Christ raised the dead, the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus. Christ walked upon the sea, and with His lips spoke the word that caused the startled elements immediately to be quiet.

Surely such an One could forgive sins because such an One was very God of very God.

Let those who deny the efficacy of Jesus Christ, His power to save and to forgive sins, explain how this Man spake as never man spake; how He lived as none other ever lived; how He wrought as none other ever wrought.

Let those who deny the power of Christ to forgive sins explain His resurrection from the dead, His ascent to the Father's right hand, with the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

2. The assurance of the forgiveness of sins. Thank God that the sinner borne down under the burden of his sins needs not to despair. There is One who suffered and died, the Just for the unjust. By virtue of His atoning work, He can and does proffer a full and free pardon.

Not only does He forgive sins, but He takes them away. He justifies the sinner, and makes him to stand before God clothed in Divine righteousness.

No man, be he priest or potentate, can forgive sins but God. Christ has that power because Christ is God.

V. GLORIFYING THE ALL GLORIOUS CHRIST (Mark 2:11-12 )

1. The immediacy of Christ's twofold work. That the Lord did do two things for the sick of the palsy, we know. (1) He forgave him his sins. This was done immediately and upon the spot. It may be that his palsy had been a Divine chastisement, placed upon him because of some physical sin, which he had committed. The Holy Spirit, through James, instructed the sick saying among other things, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed."

We are assured that in many cases personal sins, are closely related to personal sicknesses. In Corinthians we read of the failure of certain saints to discern the Lord's body. Then the Holy Spirit adds, "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."

(2) He healed him of his palsy. This also was done immediately. The sin was gone; the sickness was also gone. When the latter is the result of the former, the confession of the latter, with forgiveness, will naturally be followed by the removal of that which caused the disease.

2. The people glorifying God. When the populace saw what was done they were all amazed and glorified God saying, "We never saw it on this fashion."

The greatest testimony to the power of God is the redemption of the sinner. In a revival meeting, when the unsaved are loosed from the chains that bind them, and when they experience the marvelous regenerating grace of God, there is joy not only in the presence of the angels above, but also among the saints and populace below.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork." How much more then do reborn men and women declare His glory! This glory will be accorded now to Christ. It will also be given in "the air," and throughout the eternal ages. We love the reading in Revelation which runs this way, "And they sung a new song, saying Thou art worthy * *: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy Blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."

Thus, in Heaven itself, the redeemed glorify God.

VI. HEALING FOLLOWED BY TEACHING, TEACHING FOLLOWED BY A CALLING TO SERVICE (Mark 2:13-14 )

After the healing of the man sick of the palsy, the Lord Jesus went forth by the seaside. Once again the multitude resorted unto Him and He taught them.

1. Teaching should follow healing. We may behold the mighty works of God without knowing the wonders of the Miracle Worker. He who has felt the power of God in his body in healing, or the power of God in his heart in the forgiveness of sins and in redemption, needs to be taught concerning the Lord Jesus.

It was Mary who chose that better part to sit at the feet of her Master and to hear His words. How wonderful, and how gracious, as well as how illuminating were the words which fell from the lips of the Saviour.

In imagination we can see Him, even now, as He sat on the mountain and spoke forth the magic message of the Sermon on the Mount. Thank God, even unto this hour it is possible for any of us to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His words.

Have you just been saved? Remember how the man of Gadara being delivered sat clothed and in his right mind, at the feet of the Master, as He opened up unto him the Scriptures?

2. Serving should follow teaching. After He had taught the disciples, as He passed by He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the receipt of custom, and He said unto him, "Follow Me." We think that our conclusion is correct. The Apostle Paul being saved immediately proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ and yet before he was sent on his three great missionary tours, he must needs go into Arabia to be taught of God.

The head must be taught before the lips can successfully proclaim the story of God.

3. Levi, commonly known as Matthew, left the seat of the custom to follow Jesus. Beloved, are we willing to follow Him and to go forth to serve Him? We may have much to leave but we will have much more to obtain. If we turn from this or from that, we will find ourselves not in straitened but enlarged quarters.

Even Moses, who left the riches and pleasures of Egypt and the glories of the Egyptian court, left nothing comparable to the glory which he obtained as the leader of the Children of Israel.

As Moses stood on the Mount of Transfiguration, think you that he regretted his abandonment of Pharaoh and Pharaoh's God?

VII. THE EVER PRESENT CRITIC (Mark 2:15-17 )

There were critics in the home in Capernaum where Jesus taught. There were critics ready to complain and find fault as Jesus sat at meat in the house of Levi.

1. Jesus sat at meat with publicans and sinners. First of all, we ask you to observe that Christ had a body similar to our bodies. A body that needed substance for He ate and He drank as do we. Again, we would have you to observe that Christ delighted in companionship. He entered the house of Levi and sat together with him at meat. If Christ delights in our fellowship, how much more should we delight in His! Christ did not enter a cloister where He might be separate and segregated from men. He sat rather in the house of Levi, where many publicans and sinners sat with Him. Let us not refuse contact with the lost.

The Lord came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost. He was the Bread which was to be shared with the hungry and the Water of Life which was to be a fount from which the thirsty might drink.

God is still saying to the wicked, "Come now, and let us reason together."

2. The criticism of the critics. When the scribes and Pharisees saw Jesus eating with the publicans and sinners, they said, "He eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners." When Jesus heard it He said 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."

Christ did not mingle with sinners with the intent of entering with them into their shame and folly. He mingled with them in order to save them. In Luke 15:1-32 , we read of how the Lord again sat with publicans and sinners; but, as He sat He gave that marvelous threefold parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.

We must not enter into the ways of sinners. We must not walk with their conceptions of things. We may go only where they are, mix with them and mingle with them in order that we may win them and point them to the Saviour of man.

AN ILLUSTRATION

"For your lives!" cried the Portuguese captain of an African slave ship to a band of naked negroes, as he pointed to an English ship which had been in hot chase of him for hours. "Fight for your lives!" he cried out, as he gave each man a weapon. And the deluded and terrified negroes did as they were told, and in doing so they wounded and killed their best friends, who had come to deliver them. So Jesus came to set the captives of sin free, but the Pharisees rose against Jesus; and the very men He loved and came to free they hied on to kill Him. Rev. B. Waugh.


Verses 12-28

Helpers and Hinderers

Mark 2:12-28

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

1. Back in Capernaum. Once more we find our Master in the city by the sea. He loved Galilee. So many of His wonderful messages and marvelous miracles took place there. He also loved Capernaum, although Capernaum early rejected Him, and forced Him to pronounce a curse upon it.

As He came into the city, He blew no trumpet, He advertised in no newspaper, but we read, "It was noised that He was in the house." Straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door. He preached the Word to them. This was His great delight. His Word was a Word of power and spiritual light. It was the Word of salvation.

2. Healing the sick of the palsy. We are not taking this part of the chapter, verse by verse, inasmuch as we had just previously a whole study on it. Just now it will suffice to say that the One who wanted to preach, was forced to heal. As He was speaking, the roof was uncovered where He was, and they let down a bed whereon lay one sick of the palsy. Jesus Christ did not reprove them. He saw their faith, and faith cannot be reproved. Thus the Lord said, "Thy sins be forgiven thee." Then, afterward, He said, "Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way."

3. The harping of the critics. Among those who filled the house where Christ spoke were certain of the scribes. They sat there reasoning in their hearts. They heard Him say to the palsied man, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," and they reasoned thus: "Who can forgive sins but God only?"

It is easy to discover that they did not accept the Deity of the Lord. They were scribes who should have known the truth concerning Christ, but they knew it not. If they had heard the account of the birth of Christ, the announcement of the angels to the shepherds, the visit of the Wise Men, the baptism of Christ, and the Voice from Heaven, they should have believed them. However, they believed not.

4. "And He went forth again by the sea side." We mention these words because they are so suggestive. The common people indeed glorified God, saying, "We never saw it on this fashion." The scribes, however, shrank back under Christ's reproof, with bitterness of heart and spirit.

As Christ arose and went forth out of the house, and down by the sea, He seemed by His action to be saying, "How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not." He went forth from them as much as to say, "Your house is left unto you desolate."

It is an awful thing to see the Lord turning away from any human heart, from any town, or city, or people, or nation. We believe that this is often done. He is still saying, "Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; * * I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh."

Sometimes it is necessary for Christ to turn away from hard and impenitent hearts.

Christ took our place upon the Cross and bore our curse. This He did for us. However, when we turn from that Calvary work, the curse remains upon us, and we are yet in our sins. O that men would repent, and turn to God. O that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His mercies which endure forever!

Men, however, loved darkness rather than light. Jesus Christ said, "Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life." He also said, "Ye have not the love of God in you." Then He said, "Ye receive Me not."

There came a day when Noah was commanded to go into the ark and God shut the door to others. There came a day when God said of Ephraim, "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone." There came a day when God said, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man." It is all this that we see in the verse which says, "And He went forth again by the sea side."

I. THE COMMON PEOPLE HEARD HIM GLADLY (Mark 2:13 )

"And He went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto Him, and He taught them."

1. Why the common people followed after the Master. It seems, at first, peculiar when we observe that it was the masses who loved the Lord. He certainly had no pets or favorites among them. The Bible distinctively states that God is no respecter of persons, and yet it was true then, and it is true now, "The poor have the Gospel preached to them." Is it because they felt the need of Him the more, that they followed Him so readily? Was it because they found in Him a sympathetic heart which went out to them in their downtrodden and distressed condition?

The thing which concerns us is the fact that there were two classes. Why should people be divided the world over, into different compartments? Why should there be those who rule, and those who are the ruled; the ones who lead, and the ones who are led? Why should there be the ones who are the head, and the ones who are the feet?

2. Why the scribes and Pharisees despised Him. They were the religious people, supposedly. They were the educated classes, the upper class. Surely, with their brains, their knowledge of the Word, their culture, they should have found in Christ One whom they could love, and hear, and follow. Yet they went about to slay Him. There is a little passage which says "For envy they had delivered Him." They did not want to be displaced from their positions of authority and power. Therefore they rejected the Son of God.

II. THE LORD'S ALL-SEEING EYE (Mark 2:14 )

1. What Christ saw. Our verse says, "As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom." Here was a man that was not loved in Israel. He was a representative of the Roman government. He served the nation which held the Jew in bondage. He was an appointed taxgatherer. As such he was a man of ill repute. We wonder, therefore, what Christ saw in him that made Him say, "Follow Me." We wonder just as much what He sees in any of us. It is while we were yet sinners that He loved us. He loved us when we were clothed in rags. He loved us when we were enemies.

We wonder if Christ beheld in this Levite the finished product of grace; not what he was before grace touched him, but what he would be after the Blood of Christ had washed him, and made him whiter than the snow. When. Christ saw you, and when He saw me, and loved us, did He not look down through the years and see us in His service, proclaiming His Word, accomplishing His work? Did He not even look into the Glory World, and see us robed in the white robes around His throne?

2. What Christ said. The words were simple, yet they were words which meant a great deal. He said to the Levite, "Follow Me." Was He going to add another to His train from the lower ranks of life, as men reckoned ranks? He had called Peter and Andrew, James and John, from the fishermen's nets, and now He called Levi from among the publicans and sinners.

What was the deeper meaning of the words, "Follow Me"? They certainly meant to Levi, the son of Alphaeus, the leaving of a career, a place of money-getting, an assured position in the Roman world.

The words also meant a new obedience. There was a new yoke to wear, a new servitude to fulfill, a new task to do.

We wonder if there was, in the mind of the Levite, any far-flung vision. Did he see what it might mean in the coming ages to follow Christ in this age? Did Heaven take hold upon him?

3. The immediate response. "And he (Levi) arose and followed Him." Here was a convert who believed that the commandments of the Lord require haste. He left everything, and he left gladly. Was he wise? Should he have set aside so much financial power and position to follow the Master? He at least thought so.

III. CHRIST RECEIVING SINNERS (Mark 2:15 )

1. Christ at meat in the house of Levi. Mark 2:15 begins with these words, "And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house." Levi then had a house, and he also had food in his house, and Jesus went in with him to eat. Is He not always asked to eat with those who follow Him? Has He not said, "I will come in * * and will sup with him?" Did He not also say that "My Father will love him and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him"? All this means that Christ is willing to share our position in life with us. He is happy to become the Guest in our homes as well as in our hearts. If we are poor, He will share our poverty. Thank God for such a Saviour!

2. Christ eating with publicans and sinners. Into the house of Levi came many publicans and sinners, and they sat also with Jesus and with His disciples. We remember how this upset the scribes and Pharisees, "He eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners"? The Lord knew what they said, and why they said it. They would not eat with publicans and sinners. He would.

We must remember that He came to seek and to save sinners, but not to fellowship with them. He came to seek and to save the lost, but not to walk as they walked. He was perfectly willing to sit down with them, so long as they were ready to hear His words of love and mercy.

He would become all things to all men in order to gain some. He never entered, however, into their evil ways, for He was the blessed Man of Psalms 1:1-6 who walked not in the way of sinners, who sat not in the seat of the scornful, and also walked not in the counsel of the ungodly.

Had they proposed some plan of evil conduct, or of evil gain, think you for one moment that He would have listened in? Far be it from Him. He could tell them the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and that of the lost son. He could allow Himself to be numbered with sinners on earth, whether it was in the home, or on the Cross; but He was numbered there as their Saviour.

3. Christ followed by publicans and sinners. These are the last words of our verse. He ate with them; He preached to them; and they followed Him. Was it not worth the while? If we expect to save men, and cause them to follow the Master, we must get down where the people are, whom we want to help and reach for God. If we get up into the high church steeple, and wrap our priestly garments about us, we will never reach the men of the street.

IV. THE FAULTFINDING SCRIBES AND PHARISEES (Mark 2:16 )

1. Are not all sinners? When the scribes and Pharisees saw Christ eating with the publicans and the sinners, they said to His disciples, "How is it that He eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?" What were they insinuating? They were insinuating that they were themselves not sinners. They would have considered it utterly proper for Christ to have eaten with them, or with any of their class.

But they criticized Him when He ate with the publicans and sinners. Is it true that some men are sinners, and others are not? Some are inherently holy, others not? This is not true according to the Word of God, for the Bible says, "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." It also says, "There is none righteous, no, not one."

Deep down in our hearts, we cannot but feel that many of those who have not sunk to the depths of immorality to which some have sunk, are yet even more wicked in the sight of God. To be morally superior does not mean that one is necessarily more righteous. Sin is not merely the transgression of the moral law. Sin is sin magnified, when it rejects Christ, tramples Him beneath the feet, and refuses to yield to Him in loving obedience.

2. Are sinners to be labeled as "good," and "bad"; "worse," and "worst"? Are there some who are little sinners, and some who are big sinners? We believe so; but we would hate to have the job of putting the label upon them, because our standards of judgment may be altogether wrong in the sight of God and altogether biased. We must remember that the Lord said that he who knew not his Master's will, and did it not (and this would certainly include the publicans and sinners) shall be beaten with few stripes; but he who knew his Master's will, and did it not (and this would include the scribes and Pharisees) shall be beaten with many stripes."

Which one was received, the publican who beat upon his breast, and sued for mercy, or the Pharisee who prayed within himself, and boasted his righteousness? Think you that a sepulcher that is beautiful without is any less a sepulcher? Is the stench of the tomb lessened by the beautiful grass plot that covers it? Can a Pharisee cover up his sins with long prayers, and gifts of mint and anise and cummin? Nay! It was against such as these that Christ uttered the strongest curses which ever fell from His lips.

3. A question. They asked in substance, "Why eateth He with them?" They were misjudging the very character of the Son of God, and discounting Him because He came to be the Saviour.

V. A GREAT STATEMENT (Mark 2:17 )

1. "They that are whole have no need of the physician." Were the Pharisees whole? Not at all. Were they well? Not at all. Why, then, did Christ say, "They that are whole have no need of the physician"? He certainly said it of the scribes and of the Pharisees. However, He said it in irony. He said it in sarcasm. They claimed that they were whole. He said, "Why then should I trouble you? If ye think yourselves whole, ye have no need of a physician. You have put yourselves outside of the pale of My help. I cannot come to you, unless you need Me, for I am looking for the lost sheep of the House of Israel. If you will confess yourselves as sinners, I will gladly become your Saviour."

2. They that are sick need a physician. Is there a doctor anywhere who wants to go around giving his medicines to those who are in perfect health? If he finds such a one, he may want to collect his fee, and so he will give a little water with some kind of coloring in it with instructions to take a spoonful an hour.

However, Christ is sincere. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. This tells the story of why Christ went to the common people, to the outcasts, and to sinners. It was for this reason that He was sent into the world. At the same time, this explains why Christ went not to the upper classes, the religious people of His day. It was because they were self-satisfied, content, as they were. They knew not that they were miserable and poor, and blind, and naked; and the Son of God could not convince them that they were.

The call of God is, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The call of God is "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come!" Thank God, what a Saviour is ours.

VI. QUESTIONS ON FASTING, AND A REPLY (Mark 2:18-20 )

1. The question: "Why do * * Thy disciples fast not?" Mark 2:18 says, "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?" Here was a seemingly vital question, but it was asked with a spirit of faultfinding, and of criticism. They were parading themselves, in this question, as more spiritual and more religious than the men who followed Christ. They fasted. Christ's disciples did not fast. We will be interested to see how Christ explained this matter.

2. The time for fasting explained: Christ said, "Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?" Christ said, in other words, "A wedding is no place for fasting. While the bridal nuptials are hastening, and everybody is filled with laughter and song, to appoint a day of fasting would be utter folly."

3. A time of fasting prophesied: The Lord added, "But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days." How marvelously did our Lord bring in the story of His final rejection and death. He Himself was the Bridegroom who was to be taken away. He saw in the very criticism of the Pharisees and of the scribes the very spirit that would lead to His crucifixion.

When do we fast? Is it not in the hour of distress and of need? We enter into a city to preach the Gospel. We see people about us who are lost in sin. Our hearts are overwhelmed in their behalf. That is the time to fast and to pray.

A great scourge is upon our community. Thousands are being taken away by a plague. That is the time to fast and to pray.

A nation is under the throes of depression. People are crying for bread. Thousands, yea, millions, are without work. That is a time to fast and to pray.

Death is about to enter some home. A loved one lies sick unto death. That is the time to pray and to fast.

All this was in the mind of the Master when He spoke. When days of fasting and prayer are mere formalities, to be followed merely as a religious expression, they are altogether out of place with God.

VII. A DESERVED REBUKE (Mark 2:21-28 )

1. A rebuke concerning false religious pretensions. Christ said that a man never puts a piece of new cloth on an old garment; or new wine into an old wine skin. In the case of the garment, the rent would soon be made worse. In the case of the old wine skins, they would burst. What folly it is for people to try to fasten religious rites and ceremonies, such as fasting and prayer, such as baptism and the Lord's Supper, such as singing in the choir, or holding a position of authority in the church, upon those who have never had a new heart.

The Lord Jesus wants to make us whole. He wants to give us a new heart and a new spirit. The old garment and the old wine skins stand for sin and for self. You can't sew the new cloth on such a garment, nor can you put the new wine of the joy of the Lord into such a bottle.

2. A rebuke concerning the keeping of the Sabbath. In Mark 2:23 , the Lord went through the cornfield on the Sabbath Day. His disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. The Pharisees immediately said, "Why do they on the Sabbath Day that which is not lawful?" The Lord replied, "Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungered, he, and they that were with him?" David had gone into the House of God and had eaten the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, it being reserved for the priests. The Lord did not condemn him for this!

Then the Lord said these memorable words: "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." In other words, the Sabbath came as a blessing to aid and to help, and whenever necessity made it impossible for a man to rest, he was allowed to take the ox out of the pit, to eat the ears of corn, to take the shewbread, because the Son of Man was Lord also of the Sabbath Day. The Pharisees, by their tradition, were making it impossible for people to follow God as the Holy Spirit led.

AN ILLUSTRATION

Let our chief desire be to receive His smile and His approval. After the Crimean War there was a great celebration in London, when Queen Victoria, with the Prince Consort by her side, gave out medals to the heroes. Some of the soldiers appeared with empty sleeves, some on crutches, some with bandaged foreheads; but there was the same sweet, royal smile, and the same reward for all. At last there was carried on a litter to the Queen a poor battered and bruised warrior. Both his arms and both his legs were gone. He was only a common soldier, but in the service of his country he had done his best. At the sight of him the Queen, with tears streaming down her cheeks, went to the litter, pinned a badge upon the poor fellow's breast, kissed his brow, and said: "Well done, good and faithful servant!" If such a message cheered the heart of the soldier on that day, what will it be on the Crowning Day to hear the King of kings and Lord of lords say, "Well done, good and faithful servant; * * enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Matthew 25:23 ). May this be my happy portion.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Mark 2:4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/mark-2.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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