HOW TO UNDERSTAND MARK, CHAPTER TWO
Read Mark 2:1 to 4. Four men were carrying a man who could not move. The house had a flat roof, made of clay and wooden sticks. It was possible to make a hole in the roof.
Read verse 5. The only person who can forgive me is the person that I did something wrong to. If you hurt my friend, it is no use to ask me for forgiveness. You must ask my friend. This man had sinned against God, so only God could forgive him. When Jesus said “I forgive you”, he was claiming to be God.
Read verses 6 and 7. The scribe (professional writer) felt that Jesus did not respect God, because Jesus said he could do something that only God can do (forgive sins).
Read 8 & 9. Jesus showed He is God, because he knew what the scribes were thinking. It is easy to say “I forgive you”, because no one can see whether it is true or not. But if Jesus says “get up and walk”, everyone will soon know whether it is true or not, because they can see whether or not the man will get up and walk.
Read 10. In this verse, Jesus uses a special title, “Son of Man”, to refer to himself. This title had special meaning to the Jews. The Old Testament contains a book written 500 years before Christ, by a man named Daniel. Daniel saw a vision of heaven. He saw a bright light, and a throne, and someone standing beside the throne who looked like a man, but more powerful and very bright. When Daniel wrote down the vision, he called this supernatural person a “Son of Man”. Because Jesus called himself “Son of Man”, he meant “I am the person that Daniel saw in the vision. I came from heaven. I am supernatural”.
Read 11 & 12. The people saw that Jesus could make the man walk, so now they are wondering, “Is it possible Jesus might be God? Is it possible He might be the Messiah?”
Read 13 to 15.
TAX-COLLECTORS. The common people did not like the tax-collectors, because they were assisting the Roman government to oppress the Jews, and they often kept a lot of money for themselves. But Jesus loves both good people and bad people, so Jesus was willing to invite Levi to belong to Him. Levi invited Jesus to come and eat a meal at his home. Levi and the others knew that they had done wrong things, and they knew they needed a savior, so they followed Jesus.
SINNERS. At that time, some people thought they were better than others, and so they called the less obedient ones by the name “sinners”. But the Bible teaches that all are sinners and all need forgiveness.
DISCIPLES. Disciple means the same as “follower of Jesus”. All Christians are disciples. When our behavior is not appropriate, we are still disciples, but we are “disobedient disciples); when we realize we are in this situation, we find ourselves wanting to ask God to forgive us and change us.
PHARISEE. Some Jews were Pharisees. The Pharisees made it a point to follow God’s laws very carefully. They thought Jesus could not be from God, because they did not think God would accept people who did not follow the laws carefully.
Read 17. Jesus is like a doctor who will heal people who are sick. But if someone does not admit he is sick, he will not go to a doctor. The people who were following Jesus knew that they were sick with sin, and knew they needed Jesus to forgive them. The Pharisees would not admit they were sick with sin, so they felt they didn’t need Jesus. Nevertheless, Jesus loved them. Jesus spoke to them often, hoping they will come to their senses and realize that they are sinners, and need to ask God for forgiveness. (John 11:47 & 53.)
Read 18. John the Baptist’s followers and the Pharisees were going without food for religious purposes.
Read 19 & 20. The time when Jesus was visible here on earth was a time for being happy: no need to go without food. But during the following 2000 years, when Jesus has not been here in visible form, Christians have sometimes gone without food for religious reasons. The purpose is not to get close to God, because we are already close to God when we believe in Jesus. The purpose is to be able to concentrate on prayer and to gain self-control over physical desires. (Acts 13:2 tells about a time when Christians fasted.)
Read 21 & 22. Jesus means that old methods will not fit in with the new life that He will give to those who trust in Him. The old way was to use fasting to try to gain favor with God. But those who trust in Jesus already have favor with God, so they don’t need to use fasting or any other religious custom in order to gain God’s acceptance. (This principle is stated strongly in Galatians 3:10 -14 and Galatians 5:4.) However, some religious customs can be done, if they are done for the right reason. (Read about religious habits of Christians in Colossians 3:16 and Hebrews 10:24-25.)
Read 23 & 24. One of the laws in the Old Testament was that Jews should not work on Saturdays (This is one of the Ten Commandments, which you can read in Exodus 20.) The Pharisees are not being fair here when they criticize Jesus’ disciples, because they were not “working”, they were just eating a small amount of wheat as they walked through the field.
Read 25 & 26. The Old Testament tells about the great king of Israel named David, who lived about 1000 years before Christ. Before he was king, he had a problem. He was running away from an enemy, and had no food. A priest was willing to give him some food, but it was food that was being sacrificed to God. It was against God’s law to eat it, but David ate it. Jesus knew that the Jews would not criticize David for breaking God’s law, because David was their great hero. David understood that God’s law to save someone’s life was more important than God’s law about food. (This story is in I Samuel 21:1-6. Abiathar is named in 22:20-21.) A person cannot use a religious ceremony as an excuse to disobey God’s command to love and help others.
Read 27. God gave the Jews laws about not working on Saturday in order to help them by giving them a time of rest and a time to think about God. God’s purpose was not to make life harder for them by preventing them from meeting their needs.
Read 28. Since Jesus is God, Jesus is the one who made the law about Saturday, and Jesus can change the law at any time. Since the time of Jesus, Christians are not required to obey the Old Testament laws about Saturday. For Christians, our entire life is a life of rest, because we are resting in God’s care (this is the point of Hebrews 4:9-11.) God did command Christians to gather together to worship, but God did not command any particular day. Christians commonly worship on Sundays because Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday.