Mark Chapter 2
Mar 2:1 And again He entered into Capernaum after some days. And it was heard that He was in a house.
In Mark 1, Jesus spent a busy day in Capernaum, and then went on a preaching tour all around the cities of Galilee. Now he returns to the fishing town right on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where Peter and his family lived.
In the house--Probably Jesus' own home (Matt. 4:13; 9:1), but possibly that of Peter and Andrew, though not likely. Dr. Schaff suggests that according to the Greek text this might read "at home," instead of "in the house."
Mar 2:2 And immediately many were gathered, so that none any longer had room, even to the door. And He proclaimed the Word to them.
Afterwards (chapter 2) He goes again into the city, and immediately the multitude gather together. What a living picture of the Lord's life of service! He preaches to them. This was His object and His service (see Mar_1:38). But again, in devoting Himself to the humble accomplishment of it as committed to Him, His service itself, His love
There was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door: Mar_1:28 says that after a dramatic rescue of a demon possessed man, immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee. At this point in His ministry, Jesus attracted crowds wherever He went.
And He preached the word to them: Mark doesn’t tell us what Jesus preached, yet he still emphasizes the preaching ministry of Jesus as he did in Mar_1:28 and Mar_1:38-39.
i. “It is clear that he was avoiding the streets because they had been turned into a healing campaign. Everywhere he went people besieged him with requests for healing and the casting out of demons, so that he was unable to do what he had come to do primarily, which was to preach the Word.” (Steadman)
It is very blessed to behold the earnestness of the people in following JESUS. Luke saith, they pressed upon him to hear the word of GOD. Luk_5:1.
Are we as earnest to follow JESUS?
Are the public offices, and the gates of great men crowded with persons, and shall not you and I delight to be found waiting at the pardon office of JESUS?
Mar 2:3 Then they came to Him, bringing one who was paralyzed, who was carried by four.
Mar 2:4 When they could not come near to Him because of the crowd, they unroofed the roof where He was. And digging through, they let down the cot on which the paralytic was lying.
Because of the crowded room, the friends of the paralyzed man had to lower him down through the roof - certainly, an unusual interruption to a sermon!
Uncovered the roof: The roof was usually accessible by means of an outside stairway, and was made of thatch, dirt or tile laid over beams. It could be taken apart, and the friends of the paralyzed man could lower their friend down to Jesus.
iii. Morgan on they uncovered the roof: “Such a rendering is entirely misleading. The force of the word is that they broke up the roof of the house, tearing up the fabric, in order to lower the man down on his pallet into the presence of Jesus.”
e. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying: This proved the determination and faith of friends of the paralytic. They counted on Jesus healing their friend, because it sure would be a lot harder to bring him back up through the roof than lowering him down. They counted on him walking out of there!
i. The friends of the paralytic loved him, and it is demonstrated because they brought him to Jesus.
• Do you have friends like that in your life?
• Do you act like that kind of a friend towards others?
Mar 2:5 And seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, Child, your sins are forgiven to you.
When Jesus saw their faith: Jesus looked up at the four men struggling with crude ropes tied to each corner of the stretcher with a paralytic on it. He looked at them and saw their faith. Such implicit faith, manifested by such heroic effort, could not fail to be appreciated by the Redeemer.
a. Their faith could be seen. Their bold, determined action to bring their friend to Jesus proved they had real faith. Can it be said of us, that others can see our faith? There is something lacking in our faith if we keep it “all bottled up” and it can never be seen.
b. In this account, the emphasis is on the faith of the friends of the paralyzed man. We need to have faith for more than our own needs, but also have faith that Jesus can and will meet the needs of others whom we bring to Him.
Son, your sins are forgiven you: We can imagine how the friends on the roof felt. They went to a lot of trouble to see their friend healed of his paralysis, and now the teacher only wants to forgive his sins! We might imagine them shouting, “No, he’s paralyzed! We wanted him to walk, not to be forgiven!”
Yet, Jesus knew what the man’s real need was, and what his greatest need was. Whenever there is a problem, almost always, sin is the real problem. Jesus got right to the problem. Jesus did not mean that the paralyzed man was especially sinful, or that his paralysis was directly caused by sin. Instead, He addressed the man’s greatest need, and the common root of all pain and suffering - man’s sinful condition.
“Forgiveness is the greatest miracle that Jesus ever performs. It meets the greatest need; it costs the greatest price; and it brings the greatest blessing and the most lasting results.” (Wiersbe)
Our Lord was not offended by the intrusion, doubtless remembering that all things work together for good to the Lord's people, who will accept them thus. Our Lord was not offended by the intrusion, doubtless remembering that all things work together for good to the Lord's people, who will accept them thus.
Mar 2:6 But some of the scribes were sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
Mar 2:7 Why does this one speak such blasphemies? Who can forgive sins except God only?
Who can forgive sins but God alone? The scribes use the right kind of logic. They correctly believe that only God can forgive sins, and they are even correct for examining this new teacher. Their error is in refusing to see who Jesus is: The Son of God, who was given the authority to forgive sins by the Father Himself.
They did not consider that if he were the Messiah he would possess the authority.
God never gave power to bishops, priests or ministers of any denomination to forgive sins; nor did Jesus give authority to the apostles to forgive sins. They might preach forgiveness, but only in his name.
“The words suggest a gradual intensification of the fault-finding mood: first a general sense of surprise, then a feeling of impropriety, then a final advance to the thought: why, this is blasphemy!” (Bruce)
Does this thought by the scribes prove that Jesus is God?
Mar 2:8 And instantly knowing in His spirit that they reasoned so within themselves, He said to them, Why do you reason these things in your heart?
In a stunning moment, these scribes knew Jesus could read their evil hearts. This should have helped persuade them that Jesus really was the Messiah, having power to forgive sins.
Why reason ye these things in your hearts — or, as in Matthew, (Mat_9:4) “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?”
Note the snarl of the scribes.
‘Certain of the scribes,’ says Mark-not being much impressed by their dignity, which, as Luke (Luke 5:17) tells us, was considerable. He says that they were ‘Pharisees and doctors of the law . . . out of every village of Galilee and Judaea and Jerusalem itself, who had come on a formal errand of investigation. Their tempers would not be improved by the tearing up of the roof, nor sweetened by seeing the ‘popularity’ of this doubtful young Teacher, who showed that He had the secret, which they had not, of winning men’s hearts. Nobody came crowding to them, nor hung on their lips. Professional jealousy has often a great deal to do in helping zeal for truth to sniff out heresy.
The whispered cavillings are graphically represented. The scribes would not speak out, like men, and call on Jesus to defend His words. If they had been sure of their ground, they should have boldly charged Him with blasphemy; but perhaps they were half suspicious that He could show good cause for His speech. Perhaps they were afraid to oppose the tide of enthusiasm for Him. So they content themselves with comparing notes among themselves, and wait for Him to entangle Himself a little more in their nets. They affect to despise Him, ‘This man’ is spoken in contempt. If He were so poor a creature, why were they there, all the way from Jerusalem, some of them? They overdo their part. The short, snarling sentences of their muttered objections, as given in the Revised Version, may be taken as shared among three speakers, each bringing his quota of bitterness. One says, ‘Why doth He thus speak?’ Another curtly answers, ‘He blasphemeth’; while a third formally states the great truth on which they rest their indictment. Their principle is impregnable. Forgiveness is a divine prerogative, to be shared by none, to be grasped by none, without, in the act, diminishing God’s glory.
But whether He ‘blasphemeth’ or no depends on what the scribes do not stay to ask; namely, whether He has the right so to claim: and, if He has, it is they, not He, who are the blasphemers. We need not wonder that they recoiled from the right conclusion, which is-the Messiahship of Jesus. Their fault was not their jealousy for the divine honor, but their inattention to Christ’s evidence in support of His claims, which inattention had its roots in their moral condition, their self-sufficiency and absorption in trivialities of externalism.
When we reason within our hearts—are we more like the Pharisees or more like Jesus?
Mar 2:9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven you; or to say, Arise, and take up your cot and walk?
Which is easier: For men, both real forgiveness and the power to heal are impossible but for the Lord, both are easy. It is a logical assumption that if Jesus has the power to heal the man’s disease, He also has the authority to forgive his sins.
In a way, it was “harder” to heal the man than to forgive his sins, because forgiveness is invisible - no one could verify at that moment the man was forgiven before God. Yet it could be instantly verified whether or not the man could walk. Jesus is willing to put Himself to the test!
Jesus also met the scribes on their own scholarly ground. “The Rabbis had a saying, ‘There is no sick man healed of his sickness until all his sins have been forgiven him’ . . . to the Jews a sick man was a man with whom God was angry.” (Barclay)
Mar 2:10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority upon earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic,
The Son of Man: Jesus often referred to Himself with this title. The idea is not of “perfect man” or “ideal man” or “common man,” but a reference to Dan_7:13-14, where the coming King of Glory, coming to judge the world, has the title Son of Man.
Jesus used this title often because in His day, it was a Messianic title free from political and nationalistic sentiment. Jesus could have more commonly referred to Himself as “King” or “Christ” but those titles, in the ears of His audience, sounded like “the One Who Will Defeat the Romans.”
The remarkable construction of the long sentence in Mar_2:10-11, which is almost verbally identical in the three Gospels, parenthesis and all, sets before us the suddenness of the turn from the scribes to the patient with dramatic force. Mark that our Lord claims ‘authority’ to forgive, the same word which had been twice in the people’s mouths in reference to His teaching and to His sway over demons. It implies not only power, but rightful power, and that authority which He wields as ‘Son of Man’ and ‘on earth.’ This is the first use of that title in Mark. It is Christ’s own designation of Himself, never found on other lips except the dying Stephen’s. It implies His Messianic office, and points back to Daniel’s great prophecy; but it also asserts His true manhood and His unique relation to humanity, as being Himself its sum and perfection-not a, but the Son of Man. Now the wonder which He would confirm by His miracle is that such a manhood, walking on earth, has lodged in it the divine prerogative. He who is the Son of Man must be something more than man, even the Son of God. His power to forgive is both derived and inherent, but, in either aspect, is entirely different from the human office of announcing God’s forgiveness.
For once, Christ seems to work a miracle in response to unbelief, rather than to faith. But the real occasion of it was not the cavils of the scribes, but the faith and need of the man and His friends; while the silencing of unbelief, and the enlightenment of honest doubt, were but collateral benefits
Mar 2:11 I say to you, Arise, and take up your cot, and go to your house.
Mar 2:12 And immediately he arose and took up his cot and went out before all. So that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw it this way.
Imagine the tension in this scene. The scribes are tense, because Jesus challenged them, and said He would demonstrate He was the Son of God. The paralyzed man was tense because he wondered if Jesus really would heal him. The crowd was tense because they sensed the tension of everyone else. The owner of the house is tense, because he wonders how much it will cost to repair his roof (We talked earlier on who’s house this may have been: either that of Peter or Jesus’ own house). And the four friends are tense, because they are getting tired by now. The only one not tense was Jesus, because He had perfect peace when He said, “arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” What happened? Immediately he arose. Jesus’ power to heal and authority to forgive sins was immediately vindicated.
- Imagine if Jesus had failed. His ministry would be shattered. The crowd slowly makes their way out of the house. The scribes smile and say, “He can’t heal or forgive.” The four men struggle to pull up the paralyzed man who looks more dejected and embarrassed than ever. The homeowner looks at his roof and thinks it was all for nothing.
- But Jesus did not, and could not fail, because all He needed to heal this man was His word. There is wonderful healing power in the word of Jesus, in the promises of Jesus, for those who come to Him in faith. This man came to Jesus in faith, even if it was the “borrowed” faith of his friends.
Took up his bed: Why did the man go to the trouble of carrying his bed out of there? He had four friends who would gladly carry it, and it might have been easier to pull it back up out of the roof than carry it through the crowded room. But Jesus told him, take up your bed and go to your house, and that is exactly what the man did.
All were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” Jesus carried the day, and the people were amazed to see the power of God in action.
- “The experts in the law were hoist with their own petard (thrown by their own explosive). On their own stated beliefs the man could not be cured, unless he was forgiven. He was cured, therefore he was forgiven. Therefore Jesus’ claim to forgive sin must be true.” (Barclay)
Our Lord healed the sick to foreshadow the great work of his Millennial reign, to attract attention and establish his authority as a teacher, and to manifest his love and sympathy.
Which is the greater power, to work miracles upon the natural body or to work a miracle of grace in the heart?
Mar 2:13 And He went out again by the seaside. And all the crowd came to Him, and He taught them.
The tense of the Greek would seem to indicate that our Lord kept going by the seashore, stopping here and there to discourse to the people, multitudes of whom flocked to hear him.
JESUS loved the open air. His custom when teaching was to point to the sower, the lily, and the bird. He is no pale recluse emerging from a library to instruct, in the dim religious light of cloisters, a world unknown except by books. Accordingly we find Him "again by the seaside." And however the scribes and Pharisees may have continued to murmur, the multitudes resorted to Him, confiding in the evidence of their experience, which never saw it on this fashion.
Jesus fulfills the focus of His ministry as described in Mar_1:38 : Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth. Jesus knew how to stay on focus.
If we are to be Christ-like—does that mean that we should take every opportunity to speak the Word of God?
Mar 2:14 And as He passed on, He saw Levi the son of Alpheus sitting at the tax-office. And He said to him, Follow Me. And he arose and followed Him.
Levi (also known as Matthew in Matt. 9:9 Matthew signifies "the gift of God.") was a tax collector. In that day, tax collectors were despised as traitors and extortioners. He belonged to the Levitical tribe, but his service as a Roman tax collector socially degraded him and classed him as a "publican."
i. The Jewish people rightly considered them traitors because they worked for the Roman government, and had the force of Roman soldiers behind them to make people pay taxes. They were the most visible Jewish collaborators with Rome.
ii. The Jewish people rightly considered them extortioners because they could keep whatever they over-collected. A tax collector bid among others for the tax collecting “contract.” For example, many tax collectors might want to have the “tax contract” for a city like Capernaum. The Romans awarded the contract to the highest bidder. The man collected taxes, paid the Romans what he promised, and kept the remainder. Therefore, there was a lot of incentive for tax collectors to over-charge and cheat any way they could. It was pure profit for them.
- “When a Jew entered the customs service he was regarded as an outcast from society: he was disqualified as a judge or a witness in a court session, was excommunicated from the synagogue, and in the eyes of the community his disgrace extended to his family.” (Lane)
c. And He said to him, “Follow Me”: Understanding how almost everyone hated tax collectors, it is remarkable to see how Jesus loves, and calls, Levi. And it was a well-placed love; Levi responded to Jesus’ invitation by leaving his tax collecting business and following Jesus.
i. In one way, this was more than a sacrifice than some of the other disciples made. Peter, James, and John could more easily go back to their fishing business, but it would be hard for Levi to go back to tax collecting. “Tax collector jobs were greatly sought after as a sure way to get rich quickly.” (Wessel)
- There is archaeological evidence that fish taken from the Sea of Galilee were taxed. So Jesus took as His disciple the taxman that may have been taking money from Peter, James, and John and the other fishermen among the disciples. This might have made for some awkward introductions!
What lessons can we take home from these comments?
How would we react if someone we though of as a reprobate became a brother in Christ?
Mar 2:15 And it happened as Jesus reclined in his house, many tax-collectors and sinners also reclined with Jesus and His disciples. For there were many, and they followed Him.
This took place probably several weeks after Levi’s (Matthew) call. As a man of influence, he immediately set about to use his influence in drawing others to the Savior. So today, each should seek to exert his influence where it is greatest, up on his acquaintances, upon whom either his past honesty or good character should have an influence, or else those to whom his radical change of life would be most manifest.
Most people consider this a “going-away” party Levi threw for his friends upon leaving the tax collecting business. Jesus sat and ate with tax collectors and sinners, and eating at the same table with people was a sign of friendship and relationship.
Here lies the scandal: Jesus is the friend of sinners! Of course, the sinners knew this, and responded to Jesus’ love and friendship: for there were many, and they followed Him.
Publicans (tax collectors) and sinners: Publicans -- A term applied in Jesus' day to Jews who served the Roman government as tax collectors in Palestine. Counted unpatriotic, disloyal to their own nation, in that they accepted the service of an alien government, and made use of their knowledge of their country and people in assisting to collect revenues deemed unjust. And sinners -- Jews who were careless in respect to the orthodoxy of their day; non-religious, not necessarily evil-doers.
Do your friends know you are a Christian?
Do you invite Christ into your relationship with your friends?
Mar 2:16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eat with tax-collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, How is it that He eats and drinks with tax-collectors and sinners?
The Pharisees objected to Jesus keeping company with sinners. The Pharisees were a respected conservative religious group, but were often at odds with Jesus. The name Pharisee meant “separated ones.” They separated themselves from everything they thought was unholy, and they thought everyone except themselves was separated from the love of God.
How is it -- Jesus looked not upon the outward appearance, but the heart. He did not love the publicans because they were sinners, nor disapprove of the Pharisees because they outwardly kept God's Law
Eateth and drinketh with -- Not objecting that he taught the publicans and sinners, but that he ate with them, implying a social equality. But the Pharisees would tolerate and eat with the Sadducees, although the latter were practically unbelievers, because they were of the wealthier and therefore more respectable class.
Ostracized, not because they were wicked, but because their business was disesteemed, thus forcing them to have most of their social intercourse with the non-religious, by way of contrast called "sinners." Styled "sinners" by the Pharisees because less particular in form, regardless of their having true moral status.
Do you look down on the ministry of others, because it is not the way that you would do it?
Do you look down on people because they are not in your social circle?
Mar 2:17 When Jesus heard, He said to them, They who are strong have no need of a physician, but the ones who have illness. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
(David Guzik) Those who are well have no need of physician: Jesus’ answer is both simple and profound. Jesus was the physician of the soul, and it makes sense for Him to be with those who are “sick” with sin.
i. Of course His critics were “sick” with sin also, but they didn’t know it, refusing to see their own sickness.
ii. If you are sick and need to go to the doctor, why wouldn’t you go?
• Perhaps you don’t know that you are sick.
• Perhaps you know you are sick, but you think you will get better on your own - you don’t know that you need to go the doctor.
• Perhaps you know you are sick, and know you need a doctor, but do not know there is a doctor to help you.
• Perhaps you know you are sick, and know you need a doctor, and know there is a doctor, but do not know the doctor can help you.
• Perhaps you know you are sick, and know you need a doctor, and know there is a doctor, and know the doctor can help you, but do not know the doctor wants to help you.
• Perhaps you know you are sick, and know you need a doctor, and know there is a doctor, and know the doctor can help you, and know the doctor wants to help you, but you know what the doctor will tell you to do and you just don’t want to do it.
iii. Jesus is the perfect doctor to heal us of our sin.
• He is always available.
• He always makes a perfect diagnosis.
• He provides a complete cure.
• He even pays the bill!
Mar 2:18 The disciples of John and those of the Pharisees were fasting. And they came and said to Him, Why do John's disciples and those of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?
The Pharisees were well known for fasting twice a week (Luk_18:12), and it made sense for the disciples of John to fast, because his ministry stressed repentance. Why didn’t Jesus and His disciples do the same as these other “spiritual men”?
a. God is not against fasting; He is for fasting. But fasting has its time and place in the Christian life. Most of us have no time or no place for fasting, and so we are out of balance. These questioners came from the other side.
b. Some people misuse good gifts like fasting, and make them into self-punishing rituals. Often some will try to make following God a dour thing of self-affliction. In pre-Reformation Germany, there were as many as 161 days a year when pious Christians were expected to either fast or abstain from certain foods.
Mar 2:19 And Jesus said to them, Can the sons of the bridechamber fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
By using the figure of a wedding (the bridegroom), Jesus draws on a powerful picture among the Jews. During the weeklong wedding celebration, rabbis declared that joy was more important than observing religious rituals.
Rabbis known in the days of Jesus declared that if the observance of any law came in the way of having a good time during a wedding, you didn’t have to keep the law. You could just go and have a good time. “Marriage feasts were times of extraordinary festivity, and even of riot, among several people of the east.” (Clarke)
Jesus’ message is bold and clear: “I’m not like the Pharisees or John the Baptist. I am the Messiah, the bridegroom to the people of God. Wherever I am, it is appropriate to have the joy we associate with weddings.”
THE Pharisees had just complained to the disciples that Jesus ate and drank in questionable company. Now they join with the followers of John the Baptist in complaining to Jesus that His disciples eat and drink at improper seasons, when others fast. And as Jesus had then replied, that being a Physician, He was naturally found among the sick, so He now answered, that being the Bridegroom, fasting in His presence is impossible: "Can the sons of the bride chamber fast while the Bridegroom is with them?" A new spirit is working in Christianity, far too mightily to be restrained by ancient usages; if the new wine be put into such wineskins it will spoil them, and itself be lost.
Hereupon three remarkable subjects call for attention: the immense personal claim advanced; the view which Christ takes of fasting; and, arising out of this, the principle which He applies to all external rites and ceremonies.
Jesus does not inquire whether the fasts of other men were unreasonable or not. In any case, He declares that His mere presence put everything on a new footing for His followers who could not fast simply because He was by. Thus He assumes a function high above that of any prophet or teacher: He not only reveals duty, as a lamp casts light upon the compass by which men steer; but He modifies duty itself, as iron deflects the needle.
This is because He is the Bridegroom.
The Disciples of John would hereupon recall his words of self-effacement; that he was only the friend of the Bridegroom, whose fullest joy was to hear the Bridegroom’s exultant voice.
John regards the Bride as the wife of the Lamb (Rev_21:9). St. Paul would fain present his Corinthian Church as a pure virgin to Christ, as to one husband (2Co_11:2). For him, the absolute oneness of marriage is a mystery of the union betwixt Christ and His Church (Eph_5:32).
They would have plenty of opportunity to weep and fast after he would be gone.
Mar 2:20 But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast in those days.
The days will come . . . they will fast in those days: Jesus knew His physical, immediate presence would not always be with the disciples. When He was physically gone, it would be more appropriate to fast - but not now.
Shall be taken -- Causing an abundance of perplexity and sorrow, then fasting would be in order. Fasting is not obligatory, but a voluntary sacrifice of present and temporal good things that the mind and heart might go out more earnestly after the things not yet seen, but hoped for.
taken away:The same word is used by each of the Gospel writers, and implies a violent termination of His life.
In those days - Many of the best MSS. and versions read, “in that day;” that is the day in which Jesus Christ should be delivered up to the Jews and Gentiles.
This is the first open allusion recorded by St Mark, though probably little understood at the time, to the death, which was so soon to separate Him from His disciples.
Mar 2:21 And no one sews a patch of new cloth on an old garment, else it takes away from its fullness, the new from the old, and a worse tear occurs.
No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment: The danger of trying to put something new on something old is clear in the illustration of a garment and its patch. But the same principle was true for wineskins. A wineskin would expand under the pressure of fermentation, so if you put new, unfermented wine in an old, brittle wineskin, it was sure to burst.
These two parables illustrate that before the blessing could come to natural Israel, spiritual Israel must be selected.
A piece of new -- Unshrunken. Cloth -- The fuller light of truth due at the first and second advents of the Lord.
The imputed righteousness according to faith, based upon the merits of Christ's own sacrifice for sin.
On an old garment -- An old sect or organization. The Jewish system and arrangement. The impossible (absolute) righteousness required by the Law.
The Gospel teaching is not a patch upon the Jewish Law, but is a new proposition.
To combine Christianity with Judaism would have been disastrous to both--the one demanding absoluteness of righteousness; the other demanding acknowledgment of the impossibility of personal righteousness.
Do you try to put a patch on your old way of thinking? Or do you surrender completely to the Word of God?
Mar 2:22 No one puts new wine into old wineskins, else the new wine bursts the wineskins, and the wine spills, and the wineskins will be ruined. The new wine must be put into new wineskins.
New wine must be put into new wineskins: Jesus’ point was made clear by these examples. You can’t fit His new life into the old forms. Jesus traded fasting for feasting; sackcloth and ashes for a robe of righteousness; a spirit of heaviness for a garment of praise; mourning for joy; law for grace.
i. Through the centuries, old rigid forms could rarely contain the work of the Holy Spirit. Through the generations, God often looks for new wineskins because the old ones won’t stretch any further.
ii. The religious establishment of any age is not necessarily pleasing to Jesus. Sometimes it is in direct opposition to, or at least resisting His work.
Jesus came to introduce something new, not to patch up something old. This is what salvation is all about. In doing this, Jesus doesn’t destroy the old (the law), but He fulfills it, just as an acorn is fulfilled when it grows into an oak tree. There is a sense in which the acorn is gone, but its purpose is fulfilled in greatness.
Are you in a church or fellowship which is like the ways of the scribes and pharisees? Are you trying to reform it? To put a new patch on old cloth or new wine into old skins?
Mar 2:23 And it happened that He went through the grainfields on the sabbath day. And as they walked His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain.
His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain: There was nothing wrong with what they did, because their gleaning was not considered stealing according to Deu_23:25. The issue was only the day on which they did it. The Rabbis made an elaborate list of “do” and “don’t” items relevant to the Sabbath, and this violated one of the items on this list.
When the disciples began to pluck the heads of grain, in the eyes of the religious leaders they were guilty of:
• Preparing food.
Four violations of the Sabbath in one mouthful!
At this time, Rabbis filled Judaism with elaborate rituals related to the Sabbath and observance of other laws. Ancient Rabbis taught that on the Sabbath, a man could not carry something in his right hand or in his left hand, across his chest or on his shoulder. But you could carry something with the back of your hand, with your foot, with your elbow, or in your ear, your hair, or in the hem of your shirt, or in your shoe or sandal. Or, on the Sabbath, you were forbidden to tie a knot - except a woman could tie a knot in her girdle. So, if a bucket of water had to be raised from a well, you could not tie a rope to the bucket, but a woman could tie her girdle to the bucket!
Are you guilty of adding to the Word of God and making all sorts of rules and regulations that others have to follow?
Are you in a fellowship that does this? It might be time to leave!
Mar 2:24 And the Pharisees said to Him, Behold, why do they do that which is not lawful on the sabbath day?
Jesus never violated God’s command to observe the Sabbath, or approved of His disciples violating God’s command to observe the Sabbath. But He often broke man’s legalistic additions to that law, and He sometimes seems to have deliberately broken them.
The Law of course forbade reaping and threshing on that day, but the Rabbis tad decided that even to pluck corn was to be construed as reaping, and to rub it as threshing. They even forbad walking on grass as a species of threshing, and would not allow so much as a fruit to be plucked from a tree on that day.
That which is not lawful - That is, that which they esteemed to be unlawful on the “Sabbath day.” It was made lawful by Moses, without any distinction of days, but “they” had denied its lawfulness on the Sabbath. Christ shows them from their own law that it was “not” unlawful.
TWICE in succession Christ had now asserted the freedom of the soul against His Jewish antagonists. He was free to eat with sinners, for their good, and His followers were free to disregard fasts, because the Bridegroom was with them. A third attack in the same series is prepared. The Pharisees now take stronger ground, since the law itself enforced the obligation of the Sabbath. Here they felt sure of their position; and when they found the disciples, in a cornfield where the long stems had closed over the path, "making a way," which was surely forbidden labor, and this by "plucking the ears," which was reaping, and then rubbing these in their hands to reject the chaff, which was winnowing, they cried out in affected horror, Behold, why do they that which is not lawful? To them it mattered nothing that the disciples really hungered, and that abstinence, rather than the slight exertion which they condemned, would cause real inconvenience and unrest.
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees!
Mar 2:25 And He said to them, Have you never read what David did, when he had need and was hungry, he, and those with him?
Mar 2:26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest and ate the showbread, which it is not lawful to eat, except for the priests, and also gave to those with him?
In referring to David’s use of the “holy bread” in 1Sa_21:1-6, Jesus shows an important principle - human need is more important than religious ritual. The Sabbath was meant to serve man (the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath).
i. This is exactly what many people, steeped in tradition, simply cannot accept: that what God really wants is mercy before sacrifice (Hos_6:6); that love to others is more important than religious rituals (Isa_58:1-9); that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart; these, O God, You will not despise (Psa_51:17).
ii. “God prohibited work on the Sabbath day, lest servants should be oppressed by their masters, that the labouring beasts might have necessary rest, and that men might have proper opportunity to attend upon his ordinances.”
- “Any application of the Sabbath Law which operates to the detriment of man is out of harmony with God’s purpose.” (Morgan)
David and his followers, when at extremity, had eaten the shewbread which it was not lawful for them to eat. It is a striking assertion. We should probably have sought a softer phrase. We should have said that in other circumstances it would have been unlawful, that only necessity made it lawful; we should have refused to look straight in the face the naked ugly fact that David broke the law. But Jesus was not afraid of any fact. He saw and declared that the priests in the Temple itself profaned the Sabbath when they baked the shewbread and when they circumcised children. They were blameless, not because the Fourth Commandment remained inviolate, but because circumstances made it right for them to profane the Sabbath. And His disciples were blameless also, upon the same principle, that the larger obligation overruled the lesser, that all ceremonial observance gave way to human need, that mercy is a better thing than sacrifice.
And thus it appeared that the objectors were themselves the transgressors; they had condemned the guiltless.
A little reflection will show that our Lord’s bold method, His startling admission that David and the priests alike did that which was not lawful, is much more truly reverential than our soft modern compromises, our shifty device for persuading ourselves that in various permissible and even necessary deviation from prescribed observances, there is no real infraction of any law whatever.
Mar 2:27 And He said to them, The sabbath came into being for man's sake, and not man for the sabbath's sake.
Mar 2:28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the sabbath.
Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath: The second principle is even more dramatic - Jesus declares that He is the Lord of the Sabbath. If He, the very Lord of the Sabbath, was not offended by His disciple’s actions, then these sideline critics should not have been either.
Do we make it our mission to find fault with others?
Are we so busy pointing out what we perceive to be other’s errors that we don’t see that we have a problem with our heart?
When we perceive that something is against God’s Word, do we go to God’s Word and search for the truth of the matter? Or just rely on what we think or what others think?
Commentaries used for this study: David Guzik, Charles Russell, The Expositor’s Bible, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, E.W. Bullinger and more.