Read Mark 2
Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man
1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Jesus Calls Levi and Eats With Sinners
13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus Questioned About Fasting
18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”
19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.
21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”
Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath
23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
In today’s reading, we see four separate occasions where Jesus upset the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day. At first they are upset that he claimed to have the power to not just heal, but also to forgive sin. Then they question why he ate with “sinners” when he had dinner at Levi, the tax collector’s house. A few verses later we see that while the Pharisees and John’s disciples were fasting, Jesus’ disciples were not, and so, of course, he was questioned for that. Finally, the Pharisees called out Jesus for picking grain in a field on the Sabbath. It seems as though the religious leaders of the day just followed Jesus around, looking for him to “mess up” so they could catch him in the “wrong” (actually, that’s exactly what they did). But, as Jesus replies in Mark 2:22, “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” Jesus is saying that he is here now and he is doing a NEW thing in their midst. The Pharisees and religious leaders of the day didn’t like that; they wanted everything to stay the same because it meant that they stayed powerful and “on top” in the religious hierarchy. Jesus shows us here in Mark 2, early on in his ministry, that he isn’t here to play that game. He is here to do a new thing: forgive sins, befriend sinners, feast with his followers, and to be Lord over the Sabbath (and all other Old Testament rules). As we read this passage, we need to ask ourselves – do we allow room for Jesus to break the rules we’ve created or do we try and keep him locked away in a box? Because if there’s one thing we learned about Jesus today, it’s that we still have plenty left to learn.
What was the first thing that stood out to you about the character of Jesus in today’s reading?
In Mark 2, which of the following characters do you identify with most: the Pharisees, Levi the tax collector, or the paralyzed man? Why?
In verse 12, it says that the people who saw the paralyzed man walk were amazed and exclaimed they had never seen anything like that before! How have you been amazed by God lately?
In Mark 2:5, it says that when Jesus saw the faith of the friends, he forgave (and then healed) the paralyzed man. How is your faith serving other people besides yourself? What can you do in these times to bring healing and wholeness to others through your faith?
Did You Know?
The career of a tax collector that Levi, or Matthew, left behind to follow Jesus was a lucrative one. While you would often be socially ostracized, you could become quite wealthy, so those jobs were few and highly sought after.