2:1-2 Now after some days, when he returned to Capernaum, the news spread that he was at home. So many gathered that there was no longer any room, not even by the door, and he preached the word to them.
After all the excitement in Capernaum had calmed down, Jesus returned there; most probably he stayed again at Peter's house. As soon as it became known that he was there multitudes of people came to him, filling and surrounding the house. This time the people came not just to be healed but to be taught and receive the word of God. Most of these people had been healed already! Nevertheless wherever and whenever there was a need of healing Jesus responded, for healing was one of the signs to say that he was the Messiah (Luke 7:22).
2:3-4 Some people came bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. When they were not able to bring him in because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Jesus. Then, after tearing it out, they lowered the stretcher the paralytic was lying on.
As Jesus was preaching, four men arrived carrying a friend who was completely paralysed. It would seem that he was unable to do anything for himself and so most probably had be fed, clothed and washed by his friends; he could not move any part of his body. The man’s comrades had heard about Jesus’ healing power and came expecting their friend to be healed. When they arrived at Simon’s house, Jesus was in the middle of preaching, and there was no way they could get through the crowd. But their faith was so great that they were determined to bring him to Jesus by any means. There are instances like this that obstinacy and stubbornness can be good traits; but only if they are directed towards doing right and acting in faith toward God. These men did not give up but persevered until they accomplished what they set out to do - even if it meant carrying their friend up to the roof, tearing it apart and lowering him down on ropes to the feet of Jesus. Like them, we must never give up our acts of faith and service to God (Gal. 6:9).
2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’
Seeing the faith of the man and his friends, Jesus responded. He saw beyond the physical need of the man, and we might suppose that the man himself was more conscious of his spiritual need that his physical. Perhaps this is why the Lord does not say “be healed” as the people expected him to but “your sins are forgiven you”.
2:6-7 Now some of the experts in the law were sitting there, turning these things over in their minds: ‘Why does this man speak this way? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’
This caused a stir among some of the teachers in the crowd (though not all of them). They began to reason in their minds the implications of what Jesus had just said. According to their knowledge of the scriptures no one could forgive sins (remove guilt, remit the penalty of sin and bestow righteousness) except God; so by making this statement Jesus was claiming the prerogative of God and so in their minds was guilty of blasphemy.
Yet since Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16) the prerogative to forgive sins is always his. Moreover, because he is the Son of God he knew that his mission in coming into the world would be achieved and that nothing would stop him obtaining salvation for us. Perhaps it was on the strength of this foreknowledge that Jesus could say, even before the cross, “your sins are forgiven you”.
2:8 Now immediately, when Jesus realized in his spirit that they were contemplating such thoughts, he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking such things in your hearts
Although they did not openly speak, Jesus knew what the teachers of the law were thinking in their hearts and minds (John 2:25); so he questioned their reasoning.
2:9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Stand up, take your stretcher, and walk'?
Since they incessantly demanded signs from Jesus, demanding infallible proof that he was who he claimed to be (Mark 8:11), Jesus decided to give them a sign they had not asked for. When he asked them which was easier to say “your sins are forgiven” or “be healed”, they did not answer him. Evidently, it is equally easy to say both, and divine power could justify either statement. Nevertheless, there is no outward sign by which the reality of forgiveness of sins can be tested; whilst it is obvious to all whether a man can walk or not. So although forgiveness was more important, only by healing the man’s body could Jesus prove the validity of his claims. Cole remarks, “a prophet might heal, but no mere prophet could ever forgive sins.”
2:10-12 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ — he said to the paralytic — I tell you, stand up, take your stretcher, and go home.’ And immediately the man stood up, took his stretcher, and went out in front of them all. They were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!
In order to demonstrate his authority as the Son of God; having the right to forgive sins, Jesus turned to the man and told him to arise, pick up his bed and go home. He immediately did so, much to the amazement of the people, who gave glory to God.
2:13 Jesus went out again by the sea. The whole crowd came to him, and he taught them.
Jesus next went to the seaside and was followed by the crowds, to whom he taught the things of God. In Mark 1:4 we saw that Jesus “heralded” the good news (as in Mark 1:21). He teaches in Mark 2:2 and in this verse he speaks the word. From the use of these three different terms we can say that Jesus evangelised, instructed from the scriptures and he informally taught the people.
Another Disciple Chosen
2:14 As he went along, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax booth. ‘Follow me,’ he said to him. And he got up and followed him.
As with the other disciples Jesus did not just pass by or happen to see Levi (also called Matthew); he had planned this meeting. The other disciples were fishermen, but Levi was an entirely a different kettle of fish! He was one of the despised tax collectors, a man who collected wealth for the Romans. Many people would have been shocked to see Jesus calling him. Tax collectors were usually greedy and immoral. Nevertheless, when he was called, Levi immediately left his job and followed Jesus.
2:15 As Jesus was having a meal in Levi's home, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.
From Luke 5:29 it seems that this feast was put on by Levi so that his old business acquaintances might have an opportunity to meet Jesus; and indeed he seems to have introduced a great many to his new master.
2:16 When the experts in the law and the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’
This incited the wrath and criticism of the Pharisees; in their eyes Jesus was contaminating himself by mixing with notorious sinners and tax collectors. We know from the story of the Good Samaritan that neither the priest nor Levite would help the man attacked by robbers in case they became ceremonially unclean (Luke 10:30-37). But the Pharisees were wrong in their judgment of Christ for firstly, whenever a person became a friend or follower of the Lord Jesus they turned from their sins; and secondly, Jesus needed to be among this kind of people, for their need of him was great.
2:17 When Jesus heard this he said to them, ‘Those who are healthy don't need a physician, but those who are sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’
When Jesus became aware of their criticism, he told them that it was for the sake of the lost and for sinners that he had come into the world (Luke 19:10); to call them to repent and be saved. It is such people who are most conscious of their need of salvation, whereas the religious often have no sense of their need. Only a sick person needs a doctor; those who are healthy do not. Jesus was not suggesting that the religious leaders did not need God’s forgiveness, but rather that they needed to have their eyes and hearts opened to the truth about their own condition before God - “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
2:18 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. So they came to Jesus and said, ‘Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don't fast?’
John the Baptist, together with his disciples (like the Pharisees) rigidly kept to the ceremonial laws of the Jewish religion. Several of the Lord's disciples had previously been followers of John, and although it was not required by the law that a man should fast every week, it had become an important practice of many devoted Jews. Here we see some of John's disciples joining the Pharisees by questioning Jesus about why his followers did not observe this custom of fasting.
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This study is taken from our Bible study guide Faithbuilders - The Gospel of Mark