HIS SERVANTS' MINISTRY
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BIBLE STUDY on the Gospel of Mark
The themes of this chapter are: palsied man let down through roof; call of Levi; no fasting with the bridegroom present; new cloth on old garment . . . new wine in old bottles; and the Sabbath. This chapter is filled with action, and is really a continuation of chapter 1. It begins with that marvelous connective word "and" that Mark uses so often. It is a little word that is the glue that holds this Gospel together. “And” joins what was said before, with what will follow.
This poor man’s palsy was his constant misery. He could not move about by himself, but had to be carried, revealing the suffering state of human life. This too shows the kindness of those who carried him, and it teaches the compassion and mercy that SHOULD be in all people, toward their fellow-creatures in distress . . . but too often is not. True faith can work in so many ways; but ANY time that it works, it shall be accepted and approved by our precious Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Sin is the root of all our pains and sickness. The way to eliminate the effect, is to remove the cause. God’s pardon of sin attacks the root of all diseases. Christ demonstrated His almighty power to forgive sin, by curing the man sick of the palsy. His curing diseases was a symbol of His pardoning sin. Sin is a deadly disease . . . a disease of the soul. When sin is pardoned, the disease is cured! As long as a person’s soul is diseased with sin, that soul’s destination is eternal Hell. WHY? Because God CANNOT and will NOT tolerate ANY sin whatsoever! BEWARE!! NO one can enter the purity of God’s Home of Heaven if their soul is diseased with sin.
When we take into consideration what Christ does in healing souls, we must admit that it is a wonderful thing, to say the least! Jesus is absolutely a marvelous Physician! . . . BUT . . . most people simply do NOT think they are sick! So many refuse to admit that they are sinners! They think there is nothing wrong with them, so they do not need the services of the Great Physician. And SO many people NEVER consider eternity, so they simply continue on in sin! Therefore . . . they despise and/or neglect Christ and His precious Gospel. Only when a person is convinced that he is a sinner, humbles himself, believes God (1 Jn.5:10-13), and trusts God’s only begotten Son (Jn.3:16) to heal them, can their soul be healed of their deadly disease, and only then can they ever live in the bliss of Heaven one day (Jn.14:1-6; 1 Pet.1:4-5) instead of the lake of fire (Rev.20:15). My friend, Jesus is the ONLY Way to Heaven! (Jn.14:6; Acts 4:12).
Palsied Man Let Down Through Roof (Mark 2:1-14)
Mark 2:1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. (KJV)
And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house . . . after He had been preaching in the synagogues in Galilee, and after He had spent some time in prayer, and private retreat in desert places, it was reported that He was in the house of Simon and Andrew, where He was before, and where He was often when in Capernaum. There is no inconsistency between this statement and the one just previously made, that after the healing of the leper he "could no more openly enter into the city" (Mk.1:45), for this states that "He entered into Capernaum after some days." But even now He comes privately, as it seems from the remark, "it was noised abroad that he was in the house."
Mark 2:2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. (KJV)
And straightway many were gathered together . . . here is Marks’ “straightway” again. Immediately after the people heard Jesus was there, they flocked to see Him, from all parts of the city.
Insomuch that there was no room to receive them . . . in the house: by which it seems to be a large one, but not large enough to hold such a crowd as were gathered.
No, not so much as about the door . . . no room at the door, the porch, the court or courtyard. The crowd was so great, that neither the house, nor any of the out-places could hold them.
And he preached the word unto them . . . He preached the Gospel, the word of grace and truth, of life and salvation, to as many as came to hear Him. Some say that possibly Jesus went up to an upper room or balcony to preach (Acts 1:13; 20:8).
Mark 2:3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. (KJV)
And they came unto him . . . a multitude of people, townsmen, friends, and relations of the person after mentioned:
Bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four . . . carried on a bed by four men, as if he was a dead man; so weak and exhausted was he by his disease, that he could not walk. The palsy is a disease, whereby the body, or some of its parts, lose their motion, and sometimes their sensation or feeling: the causes of it are an impeded influx of the nervous spirits into the muscles, or of the blood arteries blood; which may happen from some fault either in the brain, the nerves, muscles, or the blood vessels. The palsy is said to be "perfect", or complete, when there is a lack of motion and sensation at the same time; "imperfect", when one of the two is destroyed, the other remaining. Now this man's disease seems to be the perfect and general palsy, which affects the whole body.
This man is a symbol of a sinner in a state of nature, who is unaware of his condition, unaware of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, unaware of his danger and misery to which he is exposed, unaware of his lost and undone state, unaware of the need of the new birth (Jn.3:3), and unaware of the need of salvation by Jesus Christ (Jn.3:15-18); and who being destitute of spiritual life, can have no spiritual desire to come to Christ for life and salvation, or any spiritual strength.
Mark 2:4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. (KJV)
And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press . . . the crowd was so large that they could not get to the room where Jesus was, nor into the house, not even to the door.
They uncovered the roof where he was . . . they went up to the roof, they carried the man up to the roof. The house where Christ was, had either an upper room, or the ground floor was open to the roof, through which the man, sick of the palsy, was let down on his bed or pallet to Christ.
And when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay . . . they possibly removed some tiles from the roof, then they let down with ropes, the bed and the man on it, together. Think about this! These four men were bound and determined to get this poor man to Jesus. Their faith in Jesus healing the man must have been very strong, or they would have stopped when they saw they could not even get in the house where Jesus was.
Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. (KJV)
When Jesus saw their faith . . . the faith of the sick man? Or his friends? Or both? The friend seemed confident, that IF could they get to Christ, a cure would be done! The faith of the palsied man one appears in allowing himself to be brought in such a manner, when he was so weak, and with so much trouble . . . and of the others in bringing him, and breaking through so many difficulties to get him to Christ.
He said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee . . . Jesus strikes at the root of this man’s disorder, his sins. Christ calls him son, although, in this afflicted condition a person may be a child of God, and yet greatly afflicted by him; afflictions are not arguments against, but rather for sonship. Hebrews 12:6-8 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (KJV) . . . Jesus calls him a son, even though the man was still a sinful creature, who had not, as yet, until these words were spoken by Christ, any idea of pardoning grace. He was a son of God by divine predestination, being predestinated to the adoption of children (Eph.1:5); he was a son by virtue of the covenant of grace (Lk.1:72; Heb.13:20). He was one of the children which were given to Christ (Jn.10:29) as in such a relationship. The blessing Christ conferred on this poor, sick man is of the greatest consequence and importance, forgiveness of sin . . . that being what springs from the grace and mercy of God, and is provided in a promise in the covenant of grace (Rom.5:21; Eph.1:7; 2:7). Christ was sent to shed His Blood to obtain it, in a way consistent with the holiness and justice of God. When Jesus saw their faith . . . their faith was very clearly seen in their actions. The man could not walk, but he had four friends whose faith in the power and willingness of Jesus to heal him was so great, that they bore him on his bedding to the house where the Great Physician was!
Do you think that the reason why sinners do not now show their faith in Christ today, is that they have no desire to be healed? . . . and that they would just as soon stay in the hog wallow? (Lk.15:15-16). It seems so with millions! People spend countless amounts of money and risk everything for the cure of bodily disease . . . but NEVER once consider the condition of their soul, nor do the ever consider eternity! They act as if they will live forever, and take NO thought of God's holy wrath that shall one day come! Wrath of God: (Jn.3:36; Rom.1:18; 2:5; Eph.5:6; Rev.14:10,19; 15:1,7; 16:1,19; 19:15). BEWARE!!! Judgment day shall come to you and me, to ALL who have ever lived!
Mark 2:6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, (KJV)
But there were certain of the Scribes sitting there . . . in the house where Jesus was, to watch what He did and said.
And reasoning in their hearts . . . about the words which Jesus had just spoken.
Mark 2:7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? (KJV)
Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? . . . Christ Jesus was just a mere man to the scribes and Pharisees. They decided that He had to be a blasphemer, to take upon Himself, that which was characteristic only to God. They seem amazed at His words, and are surprised at His supposed arrogance. They were filled with outrage and resentment at Him; saying . . .
Who can forgive sins but God only? . . . this was a common saying with them, and a very just one (Job 14:4).
That ONLY God alone can forgive sin, is very clear, because it is against Him, and Him alone that men sin. Sin is a transgression of God’s law, and contrary to His nature. Sin is a contradiction of God’s will, sin is an insult to God’s holiness, justice and purity, and sin is a horrible disrespect of WHO God is!
Mark 2:8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? (KJV)
And immediately, when Jesus perceived in his Spirit . . . I do not think this means His human soul, nor the Holy Spirit of God, although both are said to be His Spirit . . . but probably His divine nature, in and by which He knew all things, including the deepest thoughts of men's hearts. Just as soon as the thoughts were conceived in the minds of the Scribes and Pharisees, they were apparent by Jesus, and told to them.
That they so reasoned within themselves; he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? . . . thereby reproving them, NOT for reasoning and concluding in their own minds, that none but God can forgive sins; but for attributing blasphemy to Him, for pronouncing this man's sins pardoned. Jesus, being God, as well as Man, knew the thoughts and reasonings of their minds . . . and ours! http://hisservants.org/is_jesus_god_h_s.htm
Mark 2:9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? (KJV)
Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy . . . Jesus asked them this question, in order to prove His deity, and clear Himself of the charge of blasphemy . . . because He could cure the sick of the palsy, just by speaking, and He had power to forgive the man of his sins . . . so Jesus asks them which was easiest to say?
Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? . . . both were easy to say, but would not do any good without the power and end result. Both were examples of divine power, and proofs of deity; and only He that could do the one, could also do the other! See: (Mat.9:5).
Mark 2:10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) (KJV)
But that ye may know that the Son of man . . . meaning Himself, who was really Man, AND the true Messiah, in which sense this phrase had been used in the writings of the Old Testament (Ps.80:17: Dan.7:13). And even though by His outward form and appearance, He might be thought by them to be just a mere man, who had no right, or authority, to say what He had said, He affirms, that He . . .
Hath power on earth to forgive sins . . . "the son of man" suggests that His being so was NO contradiction to His deity, nor any hindrance to the force of His power. "On earth" . . . although He was upon Earth, in a state of humility, yet He had the same power to forgive sin as in Heaven. His humbling Himself in human nature did NOT strip him of His perfections, power and privilege as God. And if He had power on Earth to forgive sin, there can be NO doubt of it, now He is in Heaven. As Mediator, He is "exalted to be a prince, and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins" (Acts 5:31).
He saith to the sick of the palsy . . . turning to the palsied man, and speaking to him the following words, with great majesty, authority, and power (Mat.9:6).
Mark 2:11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. (KJV)
I say unto thee, arise, and take up thy bed . . . Jesus told him in an commanding way, to arise from his bed, in which he was brought, and on which he lay before Him, and take it up upon his shoulders, in front of all the people, and carry it away.
And go thy way into thine house . . . to show himself whole (cured) to his family and friends, and go about his business.
Mark 2:12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion. (KJV)
And immediately he arose . . . think about this . . . I do not know how long this man was upon that bed, but even if it was only a month or so, he would be VERY weak. But with the power that went with Jesus’ words, the man found himself perfectly well and strong! At once (straightway), immediately, he sprung up from off his bed.
And took up his bed . . . put that bed upon his shoulders, with great ease.
And went forth before them all . . . the Scribes and Pharisees, and all the multitude of people, all of which were eyewitnesses of this wonderful cure. The man made his way through the crowd, with his bed on his back! WOW!!
Insomuch that they were all amazed . . . at the power of Christ, and the strength of the man.
And glorified God, saying, we never saw it on this fashion . . . never saw anything like it in all their days. They surely assumed it was a supernatural action, something that could NOT be done by any mere man, thus they therefore attribute it to God, and give Him the glory of it. This was the "multitude", as Matthew says (Mat.9:8), who attended on the ministry of Christ, and followed Him from place to place, and had a high opinion of Him, as a great and good Man; although they did not believe in Him as the Messiah, and did not know Him to be the Son of God.
We never read of the scribes and Pharisees praising God, and glorifying Him for anything that was done by Christ; but normally went away, after a miracle, hardened, and full of spite and malice, going and consulting together how to take away His life.
Levi's Call; Eating with Publicans and Sinners (Mark 2:13-17)
Mark 2:13 And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. (KJV)
And he went forth again by the sea side . . . by the sea of Tiberias, on the shore of which Capernaum was situated (Mat.4:13); also known as the sea of Galilee, where He had met and called Peter and Andrew, James and John; and not far from which were His solitary place was, and the desert places (Mk.1:45), where He was before He went to Capernaum.
And all the multitude resorted unto him . . . the multitude who had been with Him at Peter's house, and about the door, and those who could not get near Him, followed Him.
And he taught them . . . the word of God, the Gospel, and the doctrines of it. By the seaside . . . the sloping shore of the lake of Galilee was a favorite resort of Jesus when surrounded by a multitude. By taking His position at the water's edge, or on a fishing boat tied up at the shore, He could prevent the crowd from surrounding Him, and as they stood or sat on the slope, they could easily hear Him speak.
Mark 2:14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. (KJV)
And as he passed by . . . as He went from Simon's house, leaving the city of Capernaum, to go to the sea side,
He saw Levi, the son of He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom . . . Levi is the same as Matthew (Mat.9:9). Levi is the Hebrew name of Matthew. Matthew is a Greek name, probably assumed when he became a tax collector. Whether Levi’s father Alpheus is the same Alpheus who was the father of James the younger (Mk.3:18), is uncertain. The receipt of custom . . . is the toll booth, or custom house, where Matthew sat to collect toll of passengers that came, or went in ships or boats.
And said unto him, Follow me; and he arose, and followed him . . . Matthew must not have had a good character, for being a Jew, he would never have been a tax collector for the Romans. But, as we see, Christ called this publican (sinner) to follow Him. With God, through Christ, there is abundant mercy to pardon the worst sins, and greatest grace to transform the vilest sinners, and make them holy. An honest and fair-dealing publican was rare. But with such as these our blessed Lord did not hesitate to speak with, when He appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh. And he arose, and followed him . . . Mark does not say “straightway” here, but it seems that Levi (Matthew) did rise up very quickly and followed Jesus.
Mark 2:15 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. (KJV)
And it came to pass, that as Jesus sat at meat in his house . . . in the house of Levi; not in the custom house, or toll booth, but in his home, where he had prepared a meal for Jesus, a sign of gratitude for the high favor bestowed on him.
Many publicans and sinners sat also together, with Jesus, and his disciples; . . . all were invited by Levi, and were NOT objected to by Christ (Mat.9:10).
For there were many, and they followed him . . . many disciples. Their following Him, leaving their homes, and going with Him from place to place, was proof of their attachment to Him. There is no doubt that our Saviour, in the early part of His ministry, was very popular. Multitudes of the common people joined Him, giving proof that they were His real disciples.
Mark 2:16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? (KJV)
And when the Scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners . . . they were offended at Jesus’ eating and drinking, even though it was in moderation; because He did not fast as they did.
They said unto his disciples, how is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? . . . (Mat.9:11; Lk.5:30).
Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (KJV)
When Jesus heard it, he saith to them . . . Jesus either overheard what they said to His disciples, or He heard it from His disciples talking; and when He did, He turned to the Scribes and Pharisees, and spoke to them the following words . . .
They that are whole, have no need of the physician, but they that are sick . . . this seems to signify that He WAS a Physician; and that these publicans and sinners were sick and needed His assistance . . . but the Scribes and Pharisees thought that they were in perfect health, and needed no help . . . just like millions today! This really gives a overall view of all mankind, in their different opinions of themselves and of Jesus.
The majority of people today see absolutely NO need of Christ Jesus, either for themselves or anyone else, and because of this, preachers of these people leave Jesus out of their ministry completely, or they lessen the glory and dignity of His Person, devalue His divine offices as Prophet (Deut.18:15-19; Acts 3:22-23; 7:37), as Priest (Rom.8:34; 1 Tim.2:5; 1 Jn.2:1), and as King (Jn.5:27; Rev.19:16). These preachers reject His righteousness (1 Cor.1:30; Rev.19:11), and deny His satisfaction and atonement (Rom.5:9; Eph.1:7; Col.1:14; 1 Pet.1:18-19). Some people think that everyone will go to Heaven, which is NOT true (Mat.25:41,46; Mk.9:46).
Then there is the ‘other side of the coin’ . . . those who are sick, they are sick, quite sick of themselves! They see the sin in their lives, they see the impurity of their nature, they see just how flawed and unhealthful they really are . . . from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet! They see that their soul has a deadly disease, and they realize that NO earthly doctor can cure the disease. They also know that they are completely powerless to cure themselves (Eph.2:8-9; Rom.3:24; 6:23). NO mortal doctor, no matter how much education he has, is able to cure the deadly disease of the soul! Only the Great Physician prophesied of in the Old Testament (Isa.57:15; 61:1; Ps.147:13; Hos.6:1), can heal the soul! Mortal physicians of NO value whatsoever; and neither are these false preachers and false teachers! BEWARE!!!
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance . . . Jesus' ministry was especially aimed at sinners, not just to sinners in the sense in which most people will admit that "all have sinned" (Rom.3:23), but to sinners in the sense that their lives offend God, and that they have accepted the moral code of the world. 1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (KJV) . . . Paul speaks of himself as first and foremost among sinners . . . this simply underlines his claim on the saving grace of Christ Jesus.
During Jesus’ ministry, it offended many respectable people, that He, a religious teacher should have so little regard for what was expected of Him, as to associate with those who were “sinners” in their eyes. Luke 7:39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. (KJV) . . . The Pharisee said that IF Jesus was a Prophet, He should know who was touching Him and what kind of woman she was. Jesus knew perfectly well WHO touched Him, and WHAT sort of woman she was! It was for that very reason, that He would not stop her from doing what she did (Lk.7:47).
Of all the titles of Jesus, probably none is more heartwarming than "the friend of sinners." Luke 7:34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! (KJV) . . . This title was first given to Jesus as a reproach: "a friend of tax collectors and sinners " . . . tax collectors occupied the lowest rung on the ladder of respectability, matched only by harlots. To accept invitations to a meal in the homes of such people, to enjoy fellowship with them, was the strongest way of declaring His unity with them. If a man is known by the company he keeps, Jesus seems to be asking to be known as the Friend of the ne'er-do-wells, the dregs of society. No wonder this offended those who supposedly kept on the path of sound morality.
When Jesus had accepted a dinner invitation to the home of one of these disreputable people, His disciples were approached by the scribes. The disciples were included in the invitation, but most likely, some of them may have had misgivings. "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" they were asked. Jesus interrupted with His own answer. They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. . . . To call means to invite. Jesus had accepted their invitation, but they received an invitation from Him . . . to take hold of and enjoy the love and mercy of the heavenly Father. This Passage is also in Matthew 9:12-13 and Luke 5:31-32, but Luke adds a short explanation: "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Repentance figures more frequently in Luke's Gospel than in the Matthew and Mark, and it does not figure at all in the Gospel of John.
No Fasting With The Bridegroom Present (Mark 2:18-20)
Mark 2:18 And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? (KJV)
And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast . . . or "were fasting"; maybe that very day, and so were all the more greatly displeased at this feast Matthew had made for Christ and His disciples. Both John the Baptist's disciples, and the disciples of the Pharisees, or the Pharisees themselves fasted often.
And they came . . . both the disciples of John (Mat.9:14), and the Scribes and Pharisees (Lk.5:30,33).
And say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? . . . it seems that the Pharisees and the disciples of John were observing a fast at the very time that Jesus and His disciples were feasting in the house of Levi. This did NOT go over very well, and gave rise to this question. Fasting was regarded as a mark of outstanding holiness (Lk.18:12), so it seemed puzzling to the Jews that Jesus, with His lofty pretensions, should be feasting at a time when other holy men were fasting.
Matthew states this question about fasting as having been raised by the disciples of John (Mat.9:14), Luke says it was the scribes and Pharisees ((Lk.5:30,33), and Mark says that the Pharisees and the disciples of John united in putting the question. I do not think there is any controversy here.
Mark 2:19 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. (KJV)
And Jesus said unto them . . . both to John's disciples and the Pharisees,
Can the children of the bride chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? . . . Jesus is saying that He is the Bridegroom, just as John the Baptist, their master had called Him (Jn.3:29), and that His disciples were the children of the bride chamber. This was very inappropriate and unfitting for them to hear, therefore the answer returned by Christ Himself to the question is,
As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast . . . it appears from the statement of Mark that Matthew and Luke, though seemingly in conflict, are both correct. The disciples of John the Baptist did ask the question, as represented by Matthew, and the scribes and Pharisees did so, as represented by Luke. Each tells the truth, but each tells only a part of what was true. To get the whole truth, we must put their statements together as one. This circumstance furnishes a key to the reconciliation of the different writers in many other places where there seems to be an appearance of discrepancy. We should always, in such cases, suppose both statements to be true, and regard each as a part of the whole truth, for each writer states a certain feature of the situation.
See: Matthew 9:15. http://www.godcannotlie.org/matthew_ch9.html
Mark 2:20 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. (KJV)
But the days will come . . . as they were in some way now come to the disciples of John the Baptist, their master being taken by Herod, and cast into prison, and so it was a mourning time with them.
When the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days . . . referring to the time of the sufferings and death of Christ, which would be a sorrowful time to His disciples.
New Cloth On Old Garment . . . New Wine In Old Bottles (Mark 2:21-22) (Mat.9:16-17)
Mark 2:21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. (KJV)
No man also seweth a piece of new cloth, on an old garment . . . Jesus makes this referral to the traditions of the elders, especially about eating, drinking and fasting, things before spoken of; and which motivated this parable, and which were new things in comparison of the commands of God in the Old Testament, some going back to the times of Ezra (Ezra 8:23; 10:6; Neh.1:4), and the moral and ceremonial righteousness of the Jews, in obedience to the law of God, meaning that the “new cloth” (the Gospel) was not to be joined with the old (the Law), to try to make up a justifying righteousness before God.
Else the new piece that filled it up, taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse . . . by the traditions of the elders, the Jews often neglected the commandments of God, and worse, the commands of God were made void by their traditions, so that the old garment of their own righteousness, which was ragged, torn and imperfect of itself, instead of being purer and more perfect, became much the worse, even for the purpose for which it was intended (Mat.9:16).
The Lord Jesus did NOT come to patch up the old religious system of Judaism with its rules and traditions. He came to fulfill it and start something new, although this "new" thing had been prophesied for centuries (new thing is grace, Rom.6:14). Christ Jesus, God's Son, came to Earth to offer ALL people forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. This new Good News did NOT fit into the old rigid legal system of religion. The message will always stay "new" because it must be accepted and applied in every generation. When you truly follow Jesus, you must be prepared for new ways to live, new ways to see people, and new ways to serve.
Mark 2:22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles. (KJV)
And no man putteth new wine into old bottles . . . "old bottles" means the Scribes and Pharisees, who do NOT need a physician. The “new wine” is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which simply boils down to the love of God, which is shed abroad in the hearts of people, and the blessings of the new covenant, which is not received by carnal men.
Else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred . . . the Gospel will only fill unbelievers with rage and fury, and they will loathe it, and run from it; which will be an added aggravation of their sin and misery, and they shall be condemned to an eternal death in a lake of fire (Rev.20:15; Jn.3:18,36; Mat.25:41,46).
But new wine must be put into new bottles . . . new bottles is the open hearts of sinners, who are called to repentance, and are renewed in the spirit of their minds (Eph.4:23); are newborn babes, that desire the sincere milk of the word (Jn.3:3; 1 Pet.2:2), for in these the love of God is exceedingly abundant, flowing into their souls. All God’s grace abounds towards them, and the Word of Christ richly dwells within them. They are saved with an everlasting salvation.
The Lord gives two illustrations about this new life of love and fellowship with Him. He is saying that He did not come to polish up the old Law. He did not come to add to the Mosaic system. He did not come to add an improvement to it. He came to do something different, new. He did not come to patch up an old garment but to give us a new garment.
A wineskin was a goatskin sewed tightly together at the edges to form a watertight bag. New wine expands as it ages, and stretches the wineskin . . . therefore, new wine could not be put into an old wineskin that had already been stretched as far as it would go, or the skin would burst. The Pharisees had become just like rigid old wineskins. They could not, would not, have faith in Jesus, just like millions today. A person’s heart can become just like an old brittle wineskin, and prevent you from accepting the marvelous new life that Christ offers. BEWARE!! Open your heart’s door when Jesus knocks (Rev.3:20). Keep your heart pliable and open to accepting the life-changing truths of Christ.
Under the Law men had to work, and their works were like an old moth-eaten garment. Our Lord came to provide a new robe of righteousness that comes to ANY sinner who will trust Him. That robe of righteousness (Gal.3:6,26; Phil.3:9), is the ONLY thing that will enable a person to stand before Almighty God (Rom.5:1-2). Our Lord did NOT come to extend the Law of the Old Testament system . . . He came to introduce something new . . . and that something new is the fact that He would die for the sins of the world. New wine goes into new wine skins. A new garment goes onto a new man. That robe of righteousness comes to whosoever (Jn.3:16), who through faith has become a son of God. My dear friend, this is a marvelous thing!
The Sabbath (Mark 2:23-28)
About Plucking Grain on the Sabbath
In the last part of chapter 2, we come to a Sabbath Day in the fields. Chapter 3 begins with the Sabbath Day inside the synagogue. These two incidents are found in Matthew and Luke. It is important because it was about this question of the Sabbath Day that the religious rulers sought His death.
In this incident, Jesus claims that He is the Lord of the Sabbath Day. In the synagogue, He does good on the Sabbath Day, then the question arises: Did He really break the Sabbath in either instance? When He picked grain to eat on the Sabbath, did He break the Sabbath Law? When He healed the poor man with the withered hand, did He break the Sabbath law? He did not! He came to fulfill the Law. Here we find that He gives an interpretation of this, revealing that He is the Lord of the Sabbath Day, and that doing good was something that was extremely important.
Mark 2:23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. (KJV)
And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn . . . and to rub the husks off to get the grain and eat them because they were hungry.
See: Mat.12:1. http://www.godcannotlie.org/matthew_ch12.html
Mark 2:24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? (KJV)
And the Pharisees said unto him . . . to Jesus, the same thing they said to His disciples (Lk.6:1-2).
Behold, why do they on the sabbath day, that which is not lawful? . . . to pick and eat the grain, which supposedly by the law, and especially by the traditions of the elders, was not lawful to be done on the Sabbath day. The law did NOT forbid eating unprepared food on the Sabbath (Deut.23:24-25).
Mark 2:25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? (KJV)
And he said unto them . . . His answer to their question, and which was enough to silence them.
Have ye never read what David did . . . referring to history (1 Sam.21:1-15).
When he had need . . . of food, and was in utmost distress . . .
And was an hungered, he, and they that were with him? . . . which was a acceptable reason for what David and those with him did; and too, as it was for the action of the disciples, being a similar case, and therefore was also proper (Mat.12:3).
Mark 2:26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? (KJV)
How he went into the house of God . . . the tabernacle, because the temple was not yet built. David went in to get bread for himself and his men, being hungry. So too, we should consider this in a spiritual sense, of where we should go, when we hunger and thirst after righteousness (Mat.5:6), that being into the house of God. We can go also to the Holy Word of God, the Bible . . . when the house of God is not available to us! There is ALWAYS bread enough there, and some to spare. It is here that the table is furnished with exceptional provisions; for it is there the Gospel of Jesus Christ is dispensed, which is milk for babes (1 Pet.2:2), and meat for strong men (Heb.5:12-14). It is there where we find Christ, the Bread of Life (Jn.6:33,35;48,51), is set forth, whose flesh is meat indeed and whose blood is drink indeed ((Jn.6:55).
In the days or Abiathar the high priest . . . there is controversy over this. From history, it is clear that it was in the days of Ahimelech the high priest, the father of Abiathar . . . wherefore the Jews charge Mark with an error.
It seems from the Passage referred to here, that Ahimelech was then high priest at Nob; and from other Passages, that Abiathar was his son. Different suppositions have been made to try to solve this problem; but some, instead of unravelling the situation, have simply called it an estimation. The most likely opinion seems to be, that both father and son had two names, the father being also called Abiathar; and this appears almost certain from (2 Sam.8:17; 1 Chron.18:16), where Ahimelech seems evidently termed Abiathar, while Abiathar is called Ahimelech or Abimelech. Compare the following: ( 1 Ki.2:26-27; 1 Sam.22:20-22; 23:6,9; 2 Sam.8:17; 15:24,29,35; 20:25; 1 Ki.1:7; 2:26-27; 4:4). . . . Matthew and Luke make no mention of the name of any high priest; and in one version of Mark it is rendered, "under Abimelech the high priest" . . . and in an ancient copy, the whole clause is omitted.
Mark does NOT say that Abiathar was high priest, when David came and ate the shewbread; he says, "it was in the days of Abiathar the high priest". It is certain that this happened in his days; and just as certain, that he was a high priest. I believe that this is all we need to know.
And did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat, but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? . . . David not only ate the shewbread, which was set before the Lord, and was sacred, and which none but the priests might eat of, AFTER it was removed from the table; but David did this on the Sabbath day . . . and he not only ate of it himself, but gave to the soldiers that were with him, and all this was done with the knowledge and permission of the high priest (1 Sam.21:1-6). The Jews have no reason to charge Mark and the others with an error, that others besides David ate of the shewbread, saying that he came alone to Ahimelech; since it is evident that David had servants in company with him when he fled, although they did not go with him when he went to the high priest and asked for bread, and it was given to him, and NOT only for himself, but for the young men with him. Jesus says that IF this was allowed to David and his men when they were hungry, it should not to be charged as a crime of evil to the disciples, for plucking and rubbing a few ears of corn to satisfy their hunger, even though it was done on a Sabbath day; and especially when He, who was Lord of the Sabbath was present.
Mark 2:27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: (KJV)
And he said unto them . . . Jesus continues His answer to them, adding and confirming what He had said, and to further the vindication of His disciples,
The sabbath was made for man . . . for his good, NOT for his hurt; both for the good of his soul, that he might have an opportunity of attending divine worship, and for the good of his body, that he might have rest from his labor, because of this, any works of necessity are NOT forbidden on this day, such as: work necessary for comfort, support, and preservation of life. If this were not so, it would appear that the Sabbath was not prearranged for the good, but for the hurt of men. The Sabbath was never appointed for all mankind, nor was it binding upon all men, but ONLY the Jews, who are emphatically called "men" (Eze.34:30-31). The idolatrous Gentiles, and nations of the World, are not called "men" but instead "dogs". Dogs: people, non-Jews: (Pro.26:11,17; Mat.7:6; 15:26-27; Phil.3:2; 2 Pet.2:22; Rev.22:15). See: (Mat.15:26).
The observation of the seventh day (Saturday), was designed only for the children of Israel, seems clear from (Ex.31:16-17). Exodus 31:14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. (KJV) . . . The day of worship for Christians is Sunday, the day that our Lord Jesus rose from the dead, NOT the Jewish Sabbath!
And not man for the sabbath . . . man was made first, and the Sabbath later! The Sabbath was then set for his welfare (Gen.2:1-3). The Sabbath was not made first or planned first, and then the man made to go along with that. Therefore, the Sabbath was intended for man's existent good, and the law respecting this must not be interpreted so as to oppose man’s welfare. Many are the duties of mercy to the poor and the sick, and to those in peril, on which many of these things happen on the Sabbath. We have no right, to do anything contrary to what the law of God allows.
Mark 2:28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. (KJV)
Therefore the son of man is Lord also of the sabbath . . . Jesus means Himself, who had a power not only to assign it, but to set it aside as He did, along with the rest of the rituals of the ceremonial law. Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (KJV)
It really did not show the good side of them to find fault with what Jesus’ disciples did, with His approval and permission. Jesus as Creator: (Jn.1:3,10; 1 Cor.8:6; Eph.3:9; Col.1:16; Heb.1:1-2,10; 3:3; Rev.3:14).
Verses 27 & 28 contain an argument not reported by either Matthew or Luke . . . that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath, and implies that when the welfare of man conflicts with the observance of the Sabbath, the Sabbath must give way. The Passage teaches not that men might violate the law of the Sabbath when their welfare seemed to demand it, but that Jesus could set it aside, when His own judgment of man's welfare required Him to do so. He made it clear on this occasion that the law was not to be so understood as to prevent men from providing necessary food on the Sabbath.
Questions of the religious rulers to Jesus
1. Why do you eat with publicans and sinners? (Mat.9:11; Mk.2:16).
2. Why do your disciples not fast, like we do? (Mat.9:14; Mk.2:18).
3. Why do you work (pluck wheat to eat) on the Sabbath? (Mat.12:2; Mk.2:24).
Gospel of Mark
ch.1 . . ch.2 . . ch.3 . . ch.4 . . ch.5 . . ch.6 . . ch.7 . . ch.8 . . ch.9. . ch.10 . . ch.11 . . ch.12 . . ch.13 . . ch.14 . . ch.15 . . ch.16