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Mark focuses the readers’ attention on Jesus’ ministry in regions that included both Jews as well as Gentiles. In addition to Jesus’ ministry, Mark here also shows the Jewish leaders’ growing opposition to Jesus.
Jesus entered Capernaum, a significant city in the region of Galilee and in Jesus’ ministry. While preaching in a packed home that he was Israel’s promised Messiah (vv. 1-2), Jesus told a paralytic that his sins were forgiven because the man believed that Jesus was the Messiah (vv. 3-5). Religious leaders present viewed Jesus as blaspheming, saying he was equal with God (vv. 6-7). Jesus rebuked them and proved he had the authority to forgive sins by healing the paralytic (vv. 8-12).
Jesus then went to the Sea of Galilee to continue teaching (v. 13). On the way there he called a Jewish tax-collector, Levi (Matthew), to follow him as one of his disciples (v. 14). Matthew had a big dinner for Jesus and invited many other tax collectors and those who did not obey the Mosaic Law to join them (v. 15). This greatly offended the religious leaders (v. 16) but Jesus rebuked them and explained his purpose (v. 17).
Some of John the Baptist’s disciples came to Jesus and asked why Jesus’ disciples did not fast like they and the Pharisees did (v. 18). Jesus answered in verses 19-20 by referring to how weddings were done then. The wedding party did not eat (“fasted”) until the bridegroom came, then they ate. Jesus used the Baptist’s own words to explain that he, Jesus, was the Bridegroom (cf. John 3:29), and so there was no need to pray and fast for the Messiah to come—he was here! Jesus then said (vv. 21-22) that he came to establish a new order (the Law of Christ, 1 Cor 9:21) that would replace—not be superimposed on—the old order (the Law of Moses).
As Jesus and his disciples passed through a grain field on the Sabbath the disciples ate some of the grain (v. 23). The Pharisees had previously interpreted that as “harvesting” and thus breaking the command not to work on the Sabbath (v. 24). However, because Jesus is God he has the authority to say how the Sabbath command should be correctly interpreted and applied (vv. 25-28).
Truths to Nail Down and Apply
- Jesus forgives the sins of those who truly trust in him. Do you? Are your sins forgiven?
- Verse 16 is sometimes used to justify Christians going to bars, etc. Jesus was in Matthew’s home and the “sinners” were invited by Matthew. The whole point of the get-together was to introduce Matthew’s unbelieving contacts to Jesus—a great pattern to follow!
- The law of Christ is Christ’s demands and expectations of his followers (the NT; cf. John 15:12; Rom 8:2; 1 Cor 9:21; Gal 6:2; Jam 1:25; 2:12; 2 Pet 3:2).