Mark 2: A New Master

Who is this guy Jesus?

It sounds like a weird question, for us, the initiated.  We are in, so we get Jesus.

But as our story begins, to his audience Jesus was just another rabbi calling people to “follow him” (2:14; 1:17).  Frankly, to more and more people today Jesus is also just another religious teacher, a wise man, one more path up the proverbial mountain of religious options, a mountain where all religious paths ultimately lead to the same place and to the same God whatever you may choose to call Him or Her or It or Them.

Who exactly Jesus was is precisely the question asked in various ways today:

Jesus saw their faith, and said to the paralyzed man, “Child, your sins are forgiven!”  How dare the fellow speak like this?” grumbled some of the legal experts among themselves. “It’s blasphemy!  Who can forgive sins except God?” (2:5-6)

They [Pharisees] said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (2:16)

People came and said to Jesus, “Look here: John’s disciples are fasting, and so are the Pharisees’ disciples; why aren’t yours?” (2:18)

“Look here,” said the Pharisees to him, “why are they doing something illegal on the sabbath?” (2:24)

This man named Jesus.  He is not like the rabbis, the religious leaders, the masters we are normally used to.

What did you notice today that you had not before?  

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Categories: Mark | Tags: , , , , , | 21 Comments

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21 thoughts on “Mark 2: A New Master

  1. Verse 18-20:
    I remember Christian do not fast because certain reason. Is it because of this verse?

    If I read correctly, John’s disciple fasting and Jesus is not. And in verse 20, Jesus requested to fast after bride taken away.
    So fasting is also a part of Christian faith? Seem it just lifted if there was certain occasion i.e to make the quest and homeowner happy.

    Verse 24 – As Jesus is bring the good news, is it something normal for him to renew certain rules that God created because of punishment for Jewish that they done in previous years, but not all rules are being lifted.
    I think this rules lifted temporary because certain condition to be meet such as hunger, and etc. Same condition happen when certain rules have lifted temporary in fasting, as being described in verse 20.

    Is it?

    • Actually many Christians do fast, but certainly not like Muslims do. There is nothing remotely close to Ramadan, though the Catholic 40-day period of self-denial called Lent might be kind of close. They don’t fast anywhere as extensively as you during during the Holy Month.
      For Christians, fasting is an individual practice one does for many reasons: 1) exercise discipline; 2) show devotion and seriousness; 3) display repentance and mourning; 4) purge physical and spiritual toxins from the body; 5) strengthen one’s resolve; 6) focus one’s attention on spiritual matters, not physical; and 7) other reasons I can’t think about right now.
      Christians do not typically think fasting is a requirement, because there is no specific command in the NT to fast. However, Jesus does talk about fasting in Matthew 6 as if he assumed his followers would be fasting at some point.
      Also because of what Jesus said in Matthew 6, Christians tend to be quite secretive about their fasting, which might account for why you think Christians don’t fast.
      Some Christians have begun to take the same principles of fasting and applied them to items other than food: media, luxuries like movie tickets or hobbies, appropriate sexuality, speaking, fellowship with friends, and sleep are a few I can think of.

      In this chapter, Jesus’ main point is that fasting is an appropriate action when there are reasons to mourn or cry out to God or prepare for a time of need. Jews were right to fast to show God how serious they were that they wanted the Messiah to come. But now that Jesus the Messiah had come (in this passage), that was a time of celebration, a time of feasting. Jesus point is bigger than fasting: don’t miss the joy that is right here with me because I have come.

      Today, is both a time of fasting and celebration. The Messiah has come. We have been rescued and delivered. Time to throw a feast. But the Messiah has gone away again and we await his return again. Time to fast. Time to show how serious we are about being one of God’s people in the meantime.

  2. Sara

    I adore the way Jesus makes it all seem so simple His wisdom and his teachings were so “matter of fact” and “to the point,” that it’s amazing to me how even now, many of us (myself included) don’t always get it.

    The one aspect I hadn’t noticed before was at the very end when Jesus basically said, “the Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.” So true and yet, we sometimes get caught up in the latter.

    Much to learn. Praying for this Godly wisdom every day.

    • Absolutely. What a great prayer! Don’t we all need more wisdom!

      I find too often I make Jesus’ teaching more difficult than they have to be, mainly because I don’t believe his ways will work or because it is going to take a sacrifice of will I would rather not make. Just excuses.

      Oh, for wisdom and faith!

  3. I, too, was drawn into the last two verses of the chapter: “Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.'” (Mark 2:27, 28 NIV84) Unfortunately, we don’t live in culture that largely accepts and regularly experiences Sabbath. However, I’m hearing in these verses that Sabbath is a gift or grace God has created for us. I wonder what blessings I am missing by not embracing the Sabbath He created for us.

  4. Melanie Semore

    I’ve always loved the section where Jesus asks which is easier, to forgive sins or heal a Kane man. Then he says, almost casually, “Rise and walk,” and the man does, of course. Makes me think of the scene in the first Indiana Jones when the turbaned guy is doing all the fancy sword swinging and Indiana pulls out a gun and shoots him. I know I’m imposing mortal images on the Christ, but I have to imagine Jesus dusting off his hands as though his work there is done.

    I am quick to judge the scribes, but I can be pretty legalistic myself. In the end the people responded by glorifying God, something I’d do well to focus on.

  5. Last night, I give a thought to read it again. This chapter is not so easy as it look like.

    2:5-7, When Jesus forgive sin, it something like simple thing. but when I relate to next verse 8-12 : it giving me a riddle. The question given by teacher :Why are you thinking like this? Is referring to “He’s blaspheming” or “Why are you thinking like this?”

    The answer from Jesus is “Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? “.

    It give me a riddle why Jesus give an equivalent to clause, “take your mat and walk?” What the meaning of “sin” to Jesus. The answer given something like “move on to live a normal life, don’t remember the past” and “sin” is something like can easily removed. There may be have relation to Jews tradition i.e giving money to church to clean sin.

    It remind me of another meaning of sin in my religion ” Righteousness is good morality and sin is that which causes discomfort (or pinches) within your soul and which you dislike people to become informed of.”

    And in verse 12, crowd amazed and praised God and not Jesus. And what have Jesus teach in verse 13.

    Yes, It was a tough one.

    • Good questions!

      In 2:5-7 I think Jesus is saying “Why are you thinking like this?” to all that they were thinking: that Jesus shouldn’t be talking like that, that it is blasphemous, that he has no right to forgive sins. The point is simple: Jesus has every right to say all of this because he is claiming to be God. These same religious leaders couldn’t accept that, so later they had him killed.

      I kind of lost you on the last part. I think you are saying spiritual sins sometimes manifests itself as physical ailments. That is likely true in some cases. There is a much bigger connection between the mind and body than we sometimes like to admit. I could see how a person could use this passage to make such a point. The bigger point becomes that Jesus can heal both the spiritual and physical sicknesses of our lives. That is an insightful point!

      • At this moment, I can see Jesus still want to keep hiding his identity and he still not reveal yet his position either he is “God” or “Son of God”. Even some of the friend and follower keep assuming he is “Son of God”.

        I try to go past and assuming I am a Jews, acted like his follower, what the meaning of Son of God that time. Some of his follower still do not know himself a Jesus son of Mary (a virgin). I think at that time, the right answer to “Son of god” is “the messenger”.

        In verse 12, follower have praised God, but not worshiping Jesus, it make Jesus is a normal Rabbi. In this book, I see the author distinguish the word “God”, “Son of God”, “Son of Man” and “Jesus”. I do know his intention, but I feel something odd, because book of Mark is written after Jesus death, but author of the book keep to hide the message that Jesus is God. It something interested, or may we will found something in next verse.

        I can understand it if believe Jesus is God “Jesus can heal both the spiritual and physical sicknesses of our lives”, but the interesting point is in this chapter he cant heal “the teacher of law”. It make me this, is he have a limited power, while God has higher power.

        The sin that I want to highlight is small sin that can deleted by doing good deeds as meeting Jesus. I think that why he said get up, and walk or he is not believe in religion (atheist, or believing other God), then he meet Jesus, may be to find guidance, change the religion and sin is forgiven.
        So many assumption, but for me identity of the man is important.

        Still early to conclude, Jesus just starting to preach, and we just finish Mark 2.

        • The phrase “Son of God” is a deep one. Lots has been said about it. It certainly seems that the title was first based on the Old Testament thinking that the king was God’s symbolic son (and more than just “messenger”) but by Jesus it has become literal, at least within the unity of the unified Trinity.

          You have perceptively pointed out that Jesus is really good about always turning the praise on to the Father. Though the worship of Jesus is very clear and common in the New Testament as well.

          yes, here and again in Mark 6, we see that Jesus’ ability or at least likelihood to do miracles is frustrated but he unbelief of his audience. It seems Jesus’ miracles were more about producing belief than about healing infirmities, so stubborn unbelief on the front end would naturally sometimes make a miracles pointless.

          I think the most important point to grab from this story about Jesus and the cripple in this chapter is that Jesus is clearly claiming to be able to forgive sins and therefore he is claiming to be God. Only God forgives sin, so if Jesus is claiming to forgive sins but does not claim to be God, then yes the Pharisees were right, he is being blasphemous. Jesus is only righteous in this situation if he in fact has the right to forgive sins, and he only has that right if he really is God.

          This is one of those times (and we will see others) where Jesus forces the reader to make a decision about his divinity. He either is God or a sinful rascal. Jesus cannot just be a good man.

  6. Brian

    The Rabbi-Talmid (disciple) relationship is a fascinating study that opened my eyes to many facets if our Jewish Master. What it meant to be a Rabbi and how Jesus compared to others in his day is spiritually awakening.

    I’m still amazed at the sense of immediacy that his followers had when he said “follow me”. That is a true testament of their faith. Since he asked them to be part if his team, this leadership model demonstrated another unique quality he possesed as a rabbi. I can only imagine their feelings when Jesus, the most dynamic Rabbi of all time, asks them to follow him. This request shows that he believed in their ability to “be like” him…something we
    underestimate in our walk with him at times today.

    I crave the faith of the guys carrying their buddy. Can you imagine??

    • Yes, quite a radical faith, and you are just the person to point that out, aren’t you, my radical friend?

      And I think many of us would say you are carrying a buddy right now. We are all getting stronger in our devotion, but you are a great example of intensity and devotion. Thanks

  7. Pingback: Jesus is Tested – Matthew 22:15-45 | This Day With God

  8. Eddy

    I agree with Brian. I love the communal aspect of the passage in relation to the faith of the friends of the man who was let down through the roof. Wow! I want to be that person who takes my friends to Jesus no matter how hard the path may be.

  9. I wonder if the Pharisees would have understood how they were “enslaving” people by the Sabbath, as Jesus claimed. I can imagine them saying, “Hey, this is what religious people do.” Then I wonder what religious practices I do that with today and how I might be guilty of that same enslaving of people for whom religion is not as straightforward and simple as I make it out to be. The truth is I cherish religion. It provides tradition and structure that is very beneficial to my spirituality. So I guess I want to be like the Pharisees in that way. Of course, I never want to be as judgmental, exclusive, and controlling as they are made out to be in the Gospels. That is a hard tension to navigate.

  10. It’s an interesting paradox that the very things designed to draw us close to God and to help us experience Him can also keep us from him.

    • Well stated, Philip, as always. That paradox is very much where my mind is today as well. But I’ve always felt like paradoxes were a good predicament.

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