Gospel of Mark Chapter Two Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Audio Sermon – Mark 2
He is Lord
In Verses 1-2, we find that Jesus once “again… entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house (and) immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them.” This can sound good because humanity values popularity almost as much as life itself. But God’s interest is more about relationships than being popular, which you can see in many places within the Bible. God will risk being unpopular because He is just and full of love. The people came to God the Son in droves, but it was mostly because they wanted miracles, instead of the love, faith and hope that is amazingly brought to us in Christ Jesus.
You do have to admire the tenacity and the love of the four men in Verse 3 who brought a paralyzed man but could not get through to Jesus because of the crowds. People often value property more than other people, but these men cared less about property than they did for the life of their friend. And so (Verse 4) they committed civil disobedience by breaking through the roof of the house and lowering the man on his bed to the feet of Jesus.
We have no idea about the deep reasons why God would allow this man and many more throughout history to become paralyzed, but Jesus knew this man and others because His life on earth was spent in listening to the Holy Spirit. That same Holy Spirit is given to all who trust in the Lord and Jesus modeled how we respond. Jesus knew these men, “saw” that they had faith in the Lord and then surprised everyone by saying in Verse 5, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” He knows our deep need and will help us.
"Scribes" were transcribers of legal contracts, keepers of records, advisers to kings, collectors of temple money and teachers of the law. A group of them were carefully watching Jesus, thinking, in Verses 6-7, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And they were partly right – only God can forgive sins. Have you ever tried to forgive? That is, completely forgive someone who has done you unthinkable harm? Our efforts to forgive do not even remotely compare to the forgiveness of God. You might outwardly say, “I forgive you,” to someone, but the hurt may remain. When our Lord forgives, the sin is washed away because Jesus on the cross paid the price. God truly forgives the repentant sinner.
Once again, in Verse 8, we see that Jesus KNEW their hearts and minds, just as He knows yours and mine right now. It is a shock when someone says out loud exactly what you have been thinking, and that’s precisely what Jesus did: “Immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, ‘Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?’” And then He asked them one of those impossible to answer questions that God so often asks of us: “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk?’” (Verse 9).
Verses 10-11 - “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” - He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Can you imagine? As a boy, I spent 5-years in wheelchairs and hospital beds and frankly never expected to be like so-called “able-bodied persons” again. But here I am, and there this formerly quadriplegic man was: walking! “Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’” There is an old Christian song which has the words, “It is no secret what God can do; what He’s done for others He can do for you…” Have faith, keep on praying. Look to Him.
The man was suddenly not paralyzed anymore. His muscles, which would have atrophied, now had strength. He picked up his bed as Jesus said, and then the two were gone. The man left in the wonder of forgiveness and new life, and Jesus left also: “He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them” (Verse 13). His miracles drew them and He used the opportunity, as led by the Spirit, to teach them the things of God.
This “Levi the son of Alphaeus” seen in Verse 14 is the “Matthew” who would later write the Gospel of Matthew. As was His custom, Jesus “said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ So he arose and followed Him.” This Levi, also called Matthew, left Roman tax money on the table in front of him. He had many reasons to say “no” to Jesus, but in faith said “yes,” as we all should.
George Washington, the first U.S. president, said, “Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” And he had a point. Here was Jesus, starting in Verse 15, eating dinner in Matthew’s (Levi’s) house, along with a large group of “tax collectors and sinners,” as the scribes and Pharisees viewed them. We see the thoughts of those “scribes and Pharisees” in Verse 16, as “they said to (Jesus’) disciples, ‘How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?’” What they did not understand is the perspective of God, as later reflected in Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We are all sinners in need of redemption. We are blessed though, because Jesus the Son of God intends to associate with you and me
Romans 6:23 reveals that, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Verse 17 in Mark 2 is much the same. “When Jesus heard (what the religious leaders were saying) He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’” We have all sinned and it is the Lord Jesus Christ who rescues those who cannot help themselves.
In Verse 18 “the disciples of John (the Baptist) and of the Pharisees were fasting… they came and said to Him, ‘Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?’” Have you noticed this – people everywhere expect others to act and think exactly like they do. They should have read Isaiah 58:6 and forward, where a “fast” is defined – it’s not just doing without; it’s giving what we have to those who are in need.
Jesus replied in Verse 19, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.” Jesus is the “bridegroom” in the parable and those who have faith in the Lord are His “friends.” Jesus indeed would “be taken away” and His disciples would fast in sadness. He continued with more parables about how to patch an old garment and put new wine into wineskins. Something new from God was right in front of the religious leaders, but they refused to understand or believe.
A little time had passed before Verses 23-27. In Exodus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 5:14, the Law commands that no work is to be done on the Sabbath, but on that day, Jesus’ “disciples began to pluck the heads of grain.” The Pharisees (religious leaders) must have been spying on them because they said to Jesus, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” Jesus referred them back to 1 Samuel 21:6 & its context, where David and his men also did something illegal - eating the priest’s bread, which was forbidden in Leviticus 24:5-9.
In Verses 27-28, Jesus “said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.’” He is the Lord of the Law. He is the Lord of everything, everyone who has ever lived, including you and me.
Dear Lord, we surrender to you now, understanding that You are God, the Lord of our lives. Forgive us when we don’t understand. We trust in You now. In Jesus Name. Amen.