Summary: In Mark 2 we meet two outcasts: a paralyzed man and Levi. Each had a decision to make that mirrors decisions that we as humans must make as well with the presence of Jesus.
Whereas in Chapter 1 we saw Jesus, the ultimate action hero, begin his battle against the enemy, Satan, in Chapter 2 He takes the war to a new front and begins battling the religious establishment in Israel, which was just as much an impediment to entering God’s kingdom as Satan. He does this by:
Proclaiming His authority over sin (“But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” 2:10 – our lesson 1 today)
Proclaiming that the old system of righteousness was not working (“I didn’t come to call the righteous but sinners” 2:17 – the law cannot create righteousness only point out sin – our lesson 2 today)
Proclaiming that a new order was coming (“new wine is for fresh wine skins” 2:22)
Proclaiming His authority over the Law and all that it contains (including the Sabbath – “the Son of Man is Lord even over the Sabbath” 2:28) – this is something He will demonstrate in chapter 3.
1 – 2
Jesus was gone on His tour through Galilee for some time. Eventually He returned to Capernaum and either went home to His house with His mother, Mary, or back to Peter’s house. As expected, the crowds gathered for an encore performance (though they had not received who He was yet – Matthew 11:23-24). Now instead of just healing, Jesus was speaking—this is really important. We can’t come to Jesus and just expect Him to be the provider of what we think we want or need. He isn’t a genie in a bottle that grants wishes. We need to also hear the word He speaks about the coming of God’s kingdom and His place as the central figure in that kingdom. By the way, Jesus here is “preaching” not “teaching or explaining.”
3 – 4
In our society we have the Americans with Disabilities Act. The disabled have the best parking spots, the best seats in the theater, and payments from the government to help them. We basically make all kinds of accommodations for the disabled to have access to things the non-disabled have. Such was not the case in Jesus’ day. The disabled were completely dependent on the kindness of others and had no built in support system. So it’s no wonder that when the friends or relatives of this man came to the house they got no welcome at all. No one made room for them. We know that some of the crowd consisted of religious leaders so that may have been at play as well. The leaders wouldn’t think of making room for the weak, and the others may not have wanted to give up their place next the VIPs!
That doesn’t deter them, however, so they climb up on the flat roof and begin taking it apart! This is a sort of Extreme Makeover Home Edition in reverse! The houses had outside stairways leading to the roof, which was a mixture of mortar, sand, ashes, and tar. Some had tiles underneath and they would have had to remove enough of them to attach ropes and lower this guy down. I can just imagine the fear of being totally helpless and being lowered by ropes. I can imagine the determination of the friends who will succeed in getting this guy to Jesus no matter what – and I can imagine the surprise and even perhaps irritation of those inside as little pieces of mortar begin falling on them and then the sun breaks through in the ceiling!
How determined are we to reach Jesus, even if it is fearful? How determined are we to introduce Christ to others? And are we irritated that others are crowding in and taking our attention away from the Master?
Jesus sees the faith of those who brought the guy. Interesting. You cannot make someone a Christian, but your faith is infectious. Jesus saw the determination of the friends and the man received the healing! Notice too that it was forgiveness Jesus gave the man. This is a powerful new level that Jesus is going to. Not only does He throw out demons and heal the sick but now forgives sins? Sin and healing often go hand in hand as all sickness is the result of the fall (not that this man’s specific sins had caused his illness). This is the long term solution that we all need. Getting a short term need fulfilled without the long term need of a restoration through forgiveness is meaningless.
I’m absolutely sure Jesus said this on purpose, knowing the audience. He is now moving towards the second great campaign, the battle with the religious establishment that was keeping people away from belief. And He is moving their understanding to the real need He has come to address, and that is the need for the healing from the sickness of sin through forgiveness.