Mark 2:3-5 Then they came, bringing a paralytic to Him, who had been picked up and was being carried by four men. And when they could not get him to a place in front of Jesus because of the throng, they dug through the roof above Him; and when they had scooped out an opening, they let down the [thickly padded] quilt or mat upon which the paralyzed man lay. And when Jesus saw their faith [their confidence in God through Him], He said to the paralyzed man, Son, your sins are forgiven [you] and put away [that is, the penalty is remitted, the sense of guilt removed, and you are made upright and in right standing with God].
Jesus goes to the root problem and forgives the man's sins first. He removed the man's guilt.
When the self-righteous scribes saw this, instead of being happy, they were upset!
Mark 2:6-7 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, holding a dialogue with themselves as they questioned in their hearts, "Why does this Man talk like this? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins [remove guilt, remit the penalty, and bestow righteousness instead] except God alone?"
Jesus is immediately aware of their criticism and He responds to their unbelief (can you image this, mere men are criticizing God for forgiving someone's sins??!!!)
Mark 2:8-12 And at once Jesus, becoming fully aware in His spirit that they thus debated within themselves, said to them, Why do you argue (debate, reason) about all this in your hearts? Which is easier: to say to the paralyzed man, Your sins are forgiven and [f]put away, or to say, Rise, take up your sleeping pad or mat, and start walking about [and [g]keep on walking]? But that you may know positively and beyond a doubt that the Son of Man has right and authority and power on earth to forgive sins--He said to the paralyzed man, I say to you, arise, pick up and carry your sleeping pad or mat, and be going on home. And he arose at once and picked up the sleeping pad or mat and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and [h] recognized and praised and thanked God, saying, We have never seen anything like this before!
Jesus forgave the man's sins because that is what was really needed. Jesus healed the man so everyone would know beyond a doubt that Jesus has the power and authority to forgive sins. This is a salvation and wholeness story, not only a healing miracle. This is why the Father sent his one and only, beloved son, to take away the sins of the world and remove our gilt that we may be justified by faith (trust) in Jesus Christ and receive the gift of righteousness.
Jesus calls Levi the tax collector and eats with him and his sinful friends.
Mark 2:13-15 [Jesus] went out again along the seashore; and all the multitude kept gathering about Him, and He kept teaching them. And as He was passing by, He saw Levi (Matthew) son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, Follow Me! [Be joined to Me as a disciple, side with My party!] And he arose and joined Him as His disciple and sided with His party and accompanied Him. And as Jesus, together with His disciples, sat at table in his [Levi's] house, many tax collectors and persons [definitely stained] with sin were dining with Him, for there were many who walked the same road (followed) with Him.
Again the scribes show their self-righteousness and their mistaken belief that they can be and are justified by the works of the law.
Mark 2:16-17 And the scribes [belonging to the party] of the Pharisees, when they saw that He was eating with [those definitely known to be especially wicked] sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, Why does He eat and drink with tax collectors and [notorious] sinners? And when Jesus heard it, He said to them, Those who are strong and well have no need of a physician, but those who are weak and sick; I came not to call the righteous ones to repentance, but sinners (the erring ones and all those not free from sin).
The scribes and Pharisees work so hard to be justified by the law, they can't stand to see sinners receive grace and be justified by faith.
Mark 2:18-20 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were observing a fast; and [some people] came and asked Jesus, Why are John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fasting, but Your disciples are not doing so? Jesus answered them, Can the wedding guests fast (abstain from food and drink) while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and they will fast in that day.
The next verses must be interpreted in the context of the chapter. Jesus was working miracles and proclaiming the gospel, yet the religious leaders of the time, those supposedly closest to God, could not stand it. But the sinners readily received the gospel.
Mark 2:21-22 No one sews a patch of unshrunken (new) goods on an old garment; if he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and the rent (tear) becomes bigger and worse [than it was before]. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the bottles destroyed; but new wine is to be put in new (fresh) wineskins.
The old wine is the old covenant anointing and the old winskins are the old covenant people (Pharisees). The new wine is the Holy Spirit new covenant anointing and the new wineskins are those who believe, trust in and rely on Jesus.
The religious, self-righteous, old-covenant Pharisees criticise Jesus because His disciples were breaking the Sabbath.
Mark 2:23-24 One Sabbath He was going along beside the fields of standing grain, and as they made their way, His disciples began to pick off the grains. And the Pharisees said to Him, Look! Why are they doing what is not permitted or lawful on the Sabbath?
God gave man the Sabbath as a picture of His rest that He has given us through Jesus Christ. Living in the New Covenant, under grace, by the power of the Holy Spirit is entering His rest. But the Pharisees believed that keeping the Sabbath was a work by which they could be justified.
Mark 2:25-28 And He said to them, Have you never [even] read what David did when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were accompanying him?--How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was the high priest, and ate the sacred loaves set forth [before God], which it is not permitted or lawful for any but the priests to eat, and [how he] also gave [them] to those who were with him? [I Sam. 21:1-6; II Sam. 8:17.] And Jesus said to them, The Sabbath was made on account and for the sake of man, not man for the Sabbath; So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.
Author: Lyall Jonathan Di Trapani 05 Dec 2013