Mark 2: Against the Grain

Why are people disliked by some when things are going well for them?

In chapter one, we witnessed the shocking authority and humility of Jesus. In chapter two, we see that the Pharisees have also taken notice, and they don't like what they see. Skim the chapter to find the four lame complaints that the Pharisees spew. (Jesus proclaimed forgiveness, ate with sinners, did not direct His disciples to fast, and allowed them to pick grain on the Sabbath.)

Let's read verses 1-12.

Imagine being the paralytic – a quadriplegic in today's terms.

What do you think his life was like?

How do you think he feels when Jesus announces: "Son, your sins are forgiven?" How about when Jesus heals him?

How would you answer the question Jesus poses in verse 9?

(Spiritual healing is easier to fake than physical healing, but is harder to actually accomplish. In fact, spiritual healing was provided only at the cost of the cross. So forgiveness is the greater of the two miracles which Jesus performs for the paralytic.)

In what way does the healing address the doubts in the minds of the religious leaders?

(It demonstrated Jesus' power. If he can heal the outer man, maybe he can heal the inner man too.)

Though the house wasn't handicapped accessible, his friends still found a way to get the paralytic to Jesus.

How would you describe his friends?

The paralytic's friends provide a model of caring.

What are some practical ways we can follow their example?

(Hang with the unpopular, bring friends to Jesus, serve people together, and care for people even if it proves difficult.)
Let's read verses 13-17.

In what ways did Jesus do ministry differently from the Pharisees?

(He went to the people, and befriended them – even sinners!)
A. Where? lakeside(v.13), marketplace(v.14), homes(v.15) plus synagogue.
B. Who? "sinners" in addition to the religious.
C. How? through friendship in addition to teaching.

Do we minister only in our comfort zones (as did the Pharisees)?
What people and places might God be calling us to?

Reread verse 17. What attitude should we have as we approach Jesus?

(Humble, aware of our sins and weaknesses.) How should this verse direct us in our witness? (Be alert for people who are aware of their spiritual sickness.)

Let's read verses 18-20.

After the feast of verse 15, observers complain because the disciples are feasting, not fasting.

Do you understand Jesus' reply about "the Bridegroom"?

(A bridegroom is the center of celebration at a wedding feast.)

How will Jesus "be taken"?

(This refers to Jesus' arrest and crucifixion, just as John the Baptist had been taken in 1:14.)

Christ's use of the bridegroom metaphor is understood even more fully when we realize that John the Baptist had previously referred to Jesus as "the bridegroom". Someone read John 3:27-30 for us. Do you see what Jesus is doing? (Instead of being his own defender, he refers to John's proclamation of Christ's superiority.)

So now that Jesus has been taken, do we now practice the discipline of fasting?
Let's read verses 21-22.

Explain the physical dynamics of the metaphors.

(New cloth shrinks, pulling apart the stitching. Wine expands as it ferments, bursting stretched out leather.)

What do the patch and wine metaphors have in common?

(The old can't contain the new.)

What is Christ's point in using these two illustrations?

(Christ did not come to patch up an old religious system. It could not contain Jesus. He fulfilled the Law and superseded it, providing a new covenant. So, since Jesus is bringing a new way to relate to God, it should be no surprise that His actions break the religious and cultural norms.)

Let's read verses 23-28.

Why do they complain about the grain?

(They adhered to scores of nit-picking, non-Scriptural laws concerning the Sabbath, not to mention the fact that they were scrambling for dirt on Jesus.)

What does Jesus imply by His reply?

What does He mean by calling Himself "Lord of the Sabbath"?

(The Sabbath was meant to fulfill the human need for rest, so meeting the human need for food is consistent with keeping the Sabbath. It is meant to help us, not rule us. David's action described in verses 25-26 also occurred on a Sabbath [Leviticus 24:8-9]. So in verses 27-28, Jesus says in effect: "If the Sabbath is a servant of man, specifically David, how much more is The Man Lord of it!")

Do we have any religious traditions that hurt instead of help us?

In chapters 1-2, how have Christ's actions broken free from cultural norms?

(He called disciples, avoided publicity, taught without degree or permission, healed, delivered, touched a leper, forgave sin, ate with sinners, feasted instead of fasted, and picked grain on the Sabbath.

As Christ's followers, how are we to be counter-cultural?

As we pray, let's surrender ourselves to minister in Christ's love, however radical or risky it may become.