And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 2 Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. 3 Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
But then the actual conversation. So. Which is more difficult--to forgive sins or to heal a paralytic? Jesus has already performed the most amazing thing--he has given this man hope for his soul. But that isn't visible to the doubting crowds, is it? And so he heals him too. But Jesus knew that the better miracle was salvation--and though I have no evidence from the text above, I like to the think that the man who was healed knew it too.
13 Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them. 14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.Here we have another beautiful example of Jesus saying, "Follow me," and someone dropping everything to do so. So simple. Two little words. And Levi reacts with immediate action.
15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
18 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”
19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”
I read this to my kids today, and they looked a bit confused at this part. And honestly, I was with them. I get the don't-mix-old-with-new thing . . . and I get the fasting thing. But how do the two meet? My only thought harkens back to chapter 1, where the people are wondering, "What new doctrine is this?" Jesus was something new. He was approaching the law and the traditions in new ways. So I guess this is him saying, "Don't expect my ministry to be like any you've seen before. I don't fit with those old ways, and the old ways don't fit with me." He was there to work something new. Kinda like...
23 Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”25 But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: 26 how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?”27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”
As someone who attends a Sabbath-keeping church, that last verse is important to me. Because sometimes Sabbath-keepers can get on a high horse about keeping the Sabbath (and Sunday worshipers can get on a high horse about worshiping on Sunday. Everyone seems to like their horses to be high...), but this puts it in perspective. The Sabbath was something SO MANY rules had sprung up around. But God had meant it to be a blessing to man. It was created for us. We weren't created to obey it. I love having my day of rest, and keeping it a day of rest as a reminder to me that it's God's day, and I'm setting it aside.
But Jesus teaches, here and many times later, that He is Lord of that too--and when He says to go or eat or heal or do good, we'd better do it on the Sabbath like on any other day.
Today's question is an echo of those two words I wrote about, as much a challenge as a question.
Question ~ Mark 2
If you're working, and you hear Jesus say, "Follow me," do you drop it all and follow?