Gospel of Mark: Chapter 2

The Gospel of Mark:

Commentary on Chapter 2

  • v. 2 – In 1:38-39 we see Jesus is preaching, but here we find Jesus preaching or speaking the word. The emphasis is on an informal and casual form of conversation rather than the more typical proclamation or speech associated with preaching.
  • v. 4 – Roofs at this time were made of a combination of materials including mud. Oftentimes the roofs would actually grow grass on them. The friends literally dug a hole through the roof.
  • vv. 5-12 – Jesus’ forgiveness of sins outrages the religious leaders. Who can forgive sins but God?
    • In the Jewish mindset there was a direct connection between sin and illness. One was ill because one had sinned. Jesus demonstrates to their way of thinking His power to forgive sins by removing the illness – which (in their minds) was caused by sin. If the sin had not been forgiven, the illness could not have been removed.
    • Jesus uses the term “Son of Man” to describe Himself instead of “Son of God” – thus identifying Himself with humanity. Jesus is God but He is also human.
  • vv. 13-14 – Tax collectors were despised by the Jews. At this time tax collectors could take as much money from individuals as they wanted, as long as Rome received their cut. This oftentimes resulted in significant abuse upon the common citizens by the tax collectors. Further, working for the Roman Empire was considered a traitorous act in itself.
    • Levi is another name Matthew was known by.
  • vv. 15-17 – Jesus eating a dinner with tax collectors and other sinners was an expression of friendship and this confused the religious leaders. How could someone claiming to be from God associate with wicked people?
    • Jesus’ response is simple – He came to save those who needed help, not those who didn’t think they needed it.
  • v. 16 – The Pharisees were one sect of Judaism, similar to how today we have Catholics and Protestants today. The Pharisees were known for their belief in a future resurrection and for the many laws they believed needed to be obeyed.
    •  To be a disciple was to be a learner. Jesus was the teacher, the disciples were those who were following and learning from him.
  • vv. 18-20 – Fasting is when one goes without food or some other substance or activity for a period of time. It was a common practice among the Jews, oftentimes performed twice weekly.[1] Jesus’ followers did not participate in the fast because they had reason for celebration – Jesus was with them!
  • v. 21 – If one sows an unshrunken piece of new cloth onto an old garment, when the garment is washed the new cloth will shrink and rip away from the old garment, making a worse hole than was in the garment previously.
  • v. 22 – Wineskins are elastic when they are new and wine when it is new has gases which cause the skins to expand. If one puts new wine into old wineskins, the skins have lost their flexibility and burst.
  • vv. 23-24 – Working on the Sabbath was strictly forbidden in Scripture (Exodus 34:21). What constituted work is debatable, but the Jews had set up a complex legal system to determine what qualified as work and what didn’t. According to this complex set of rules, the disciples were breaking the Sabbath.
  • vv. 25-26 – Jesus doesn’t reply directly to the initial question but instead demonstrates from Scripture that King David (who was a great hero and man after God’s heart) clearly broke the law (no questions about it, as there was in this matter concerning the disciples). The law forbidding David’s actions is found in Leviticus 24:5-9 while the story Jesus recites is from 1 Samuel 21.
    •  The bread was twelve loaves which was placed on a table inside the temple and was not touched by anyone until the priests consumed it at the end of the week.

Author: Dave Mackey

Revision: 1.1 4/19/13

[1] Usually these sorts of regular fasts only occurred during the daytime and one could eat in the evening.

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