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And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them.14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And 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.”\
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Questions to Consider
1. As we study through Mark, keep in mind that the various stories of what Jesus said and did show us who He is. Recalling that Mark’s audience was primarily Gentile, why would it have been important for him to define who Jesus was?
2. Examine verses 1-12. What is Jesus doing as this story opens? (2) Why did the paralytic’s friends bring him to Jesus- to hear Him preach (2), to be healed, or to have his sins forgiven (5)? What two things did Jesus do for the paralytic, and which one came first? (5, 11-12) What did the paralytic’s friends see as his greatest need? What did Jesus see as his greatest need? What do you think Jesus would say about modern day “faith healers” who focus strictly on the “miracle” of healing and never preach the gospel?
3. Read verses 13-17. What is Jesus doing as this story opens? (13) What was Levi’s (Matthew’s) profession? (14) Why would the guests at Levi’s house have been “tax collectors and sinners” (15-16) rather than scribes and Pharisees or tradesmen and farmers? How might Peter, Andrew, James, and John have initially reacted to Jesus calling a tax collector to be a fellow disciple?
This passage is often cited as evidence of “Jesus hanging out with sinners” by Christians seeking to justify hanging out with people they ought not hang out with, going places they ought not go, and doing things they ought not do. Would Jesus, the sinless Son of God, use this passage that way? What was Jesus’ goal in “hanging out with sinners”? (17)
4. How do the story of the paralytic (5,10) and the story of the calling of Levi (14,17) point to the central mission of Jesus’ earthly ministry?
5. Was the fasting that the Pharisees and John’s disciples were participating in and questioning Jesus about (18) Pharisaical ritual fasting, or the type of New Testament fasting that centered around Christ? Why would Jesus not have wanted His disciples to participate in works-based, ritual, old covenant-style, old garment/wineskin (21,22) fasting when He was there to proclaim the new patch/wineskin (21,22) of the new covenant- the gospel?
6. In 23-28, how did Jesus’ use of David’s actions as a parallel to His own actions…
a) provide an example of Israel’s revered king whom the Pharisees would not have wanted to argue against?
b) allude to the fact that He was the Son of David, the Messiah?
As we saw in chapter 1, and throughout the gospels, Jesus’ lordship over the Sabbath is a major theme and a major sticking point for the scribes and Pharisees. Why? Who established the Sabbath and had the right to rule over it? So, when Jesus says in verse 28 that He is lord of the Sabbath, what would that have meant to the Pharisees? In verse 24, the Pharisees accuse Jesus of breaking the law. Since we know Jesus was sinless, was He actually breaking God’s law here? Then whose “law” was He breaking? Why was it wrong for the Pharisees to accuse Jesus of breaking God’s law when He wasn’t?
7. What do each of these stories tell us (and Mark’s Gentile audience) about who Jesus is- His deity, miraculous power, lordship, authority, etc.?
Do you ever have an opportunity to “hang out with sinners” like Jesus did? Most of us do, whether it’s co-workers, family members, the ladies at the salon, fellow soccer moms, or the next door neighbor. Take a moment to pray for the lost people you’ll hang out with this week, and ask God to help you follow in Jesus’ footsteps and share the gospel with them.