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The Gospel According to Mark, Chapter 2

Analysis and Commentary

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Jesus on the Sabbath

Jesus on the Sabbath

In chapter 2 of Mark’s gospel, Jesus is involved with a series of controversies that are arranged thematically. Jesus disputes various aspects of the law with opposing Pharisees and is depicted as besting them on every point. This is supposed to demonstrate the superiority of Jesus’ new approach to understanding God over that of traditional Judaism.

Jesus Heals Palsy in Capernaum (Mark 2:1-5)
Once again Jesus is back in Capernaum - possibly in the house of Peter's mother-in-law, although the actual identity of 'the house" is uncertain. Naturally, he is swamped by a mob of people either hoping that he will continue healing the sick or expecting to hear him preach. Christian tradition might focus on the latter, but at this stage the text suggests that his fame is due more to his ability to work wonders than to hold crowds through oration.

Jesus’ Authority to Forgive Sins & Heal the Sick (Mark 2:6-12)
If God is the only one with authority to forgive people's sins, then Jesus assumes a great deal in forgiving the sins of a man who came to him to have his palsy healed. Naturally, there are a few who wonder about this and question whether Jesus should do it.

Jesus Eats with the Sinners, Publicans, Tax Collectors (Mark 2:13-17)
Jesus is depicted here preaching again and there are many people listening. It isn't explained whether this crowd also gathered in order for him to heal people or whether by this point the large crowds are attracted by his preaching alone. It also isn't explained what a 'multitude' is - the numbers are left to the imagination of the audience.

Jesus and the Parable of the Bridegroom (Mark 2:18-22)
Even as Jesus is portrayed as fulfilling prophecies, he is also portrayed as upsetting religious customs and traditions. This would have been consistent with the Jewish understanding of prophets: people called by God to return Jews to the "true religion" that God wanted of them, a task that included challenging social conventions...

Jesus and the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-27)
Among the ways Jesus challenged or defied religious tradition, his failure to observe the Sabbath in the manner expected seems to have been one of the most serious. Other incidents, like not fasting or eating with disreputable people, raised some eyebrows but didn't necessarily amount to a sin. Keeping the Sabbath holy was, however, commanded by God - and if Jesus failed to that, then his claims about himself and his mission could be questioned.

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