Sunday Sermon Notes: January 15, 2023

Mark 2:1-12

Parallel Texts: Matthew 9:2-8; Luke 5:17-26

In this passage, Jesus has returned to Capernaum from His Kingdom Tour, and the people are excited to have Him back in town. During this period, Capernaum is His ‘home base’. As the crowd grew with the usual curious listeners, sick and damaged people, it became impossible for everyone to gain entry into the house where Jesus was staying as He preached, and a very enterprising group of men climbed up to the roof, bringing a paralyzed man on a stretcher with them. They opened the roof door which was a common feature in those flat-roofed houses, and lowered the paralyzed man into the room where Jesus was teaching.

When Jesus saw this, He went over to the man on the stretcher and told him that his sins were forgiven.

There was a group of teachers of the law in the room, who may have come from Jerusalem to investigate the report that had reached the city about the Kingdom Tour, and these guys were pretty amazed at what they saw. It occurred to them that Jesus had just made a mistake in telling the unfortunate man his sins were forgiven, because only God can forgive sins: Blasphemy… Gotcha!

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Mark 2:8-12

I love this part! Jesus, knowing their thoughts goes over to these guys and asks a question: So boys, what’s easier, to tell this guy his sins are forgiven, or to tell him to get up, pick up his mat and walk?

Who says Jesus had no sense of humor?

Then, He went back to the paralyzed man and told him to get up, take his mat and walk… and that’s just what the guy did!

I can just imagine what those old boys from Jerusalem thought then… hilarious! Boy, did they have a report for the bigwigs back home.

Of course everyone was amazed at what they had witnessed, but I wonder if they fully comprehended the scene. Right in front of the teachers of the law, Jesus had forgiven a man’s sins, the teachers were correct in what they were thinking, for only God can forgive sins. Jesus read their thoughts; a little miracle nobody seemed to notice, and went right for the jugular, so to speak. He told a paralyzed man to get up and walk, and the man was made whole again, and did just that. Thus, Jesus had taken upon Himself God’s role to forgive, and then backed it up by making the man whole physically.

Wholeness, spiritually and physically: Jesus removed the consequences of sin, at least symbolically, right in front of their eyes. To state what happened in another way, Jesus had just shown the whole crowd that He was the Son of God… and the teachers of the law, by definition if nothing else, would have had to know that.

So, what do you think was in their report to HQ?

Mark 2:13-17

Parallel Texts: Matthew 9:9; Luke 5:27-28

Still in Galilee, Jesus calls another disciple, and this time He has a questionable choice: Levi (Matthew) the tax collector. Tax collectors are none too popular in our day, but back then they were outright crooks in most cases. They would be informed of the amount they had to collect, and whatever they collected over and above that amount would be theirs to keep. Oh yes, this was all nice and legal under Roman law. So, say you are a tax collector and you are supposed to collect $100.00 from 10 people. Let’s see, if you can get $10.00 from each one, you could turn the money over to the authorities and be done, but your family would go hungry. If you collected $ 12.50 each, you’d make $25.00 and maybe that would be fair, but if you could force them to pay $150.00 each, even better!

Jesus called Levi to discipleship, and then they go to a party with tax collectors and other unsavory characters: The stage is set for another round with His critics.

Notice that once again, Jesus called a disciple, and the disciple followed, leaving everything behind immediately to do so. In this case, Levi, who was well-to-do threw a dinner party for Jesus that night, inviting all his friends. Jesus did not tell Levi that he had to attend class, do penance, or somehow work his way into favor; Levi did not need to get his act together before he could follow Jesus, instead Jesus called, Levi obeyed.

Then, this dinner party!

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.  When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:15-17

I can well imagine, and even sympathize with the thinking of the Pharisees, after all most of us are quite used to this kind of thinking; Levi and his friends weren’t “suitable” people at all; they were at the very bottom of the social order.  Yet Jesus came that such as these could be saved; in our day, these are exactly the ones who need to hear about Jesus.

Here’s a question: If you and I don’t reach out to “tax collectors and prostitutes” with the message of Christ, then who will; the Pharisees? From this text, it would seem that Pharisees are not likely to get the job done.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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