We are back to the book of Mark, where Jesus ministers with his divine power, but is rejected by those religious leaders. We look at Jesus healing the paralytic, eating with the Levi, Jesus answering about fasting, and finally Jesus' view on Sabbath.
While Jesus was at Capernaum, large number of people flocked to see and meet him. There was no room either inside or outside the door. The initiative and faith of a group of four friends led them to open the roof above Jesus and lowered the man on his mat. Jesus was impressed by their bold belief and said to the paralytic man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Jewish teachers who were present there thought in their hearts, "Who other than God can forgive sins?" Jesus knew their skeptical mind and asked them whether it was easier to say, "Get up, take your mat and walk" or "Your sins are forgiven?" Of course, both are difficult - but relatively, it is easier to say, "Get up, take your mat and walk." Jesus then said so. The paralytic took up his mat and walked in the full view of everyone. Everyone who witnessed this healing were amazed.
Tax collectors were seen as corrupt people who worked for Herod Antipas and the Roman Empire, who cheated their own people regularly. It was considered a disgrace to deal with such dishonest men. When Jesus saw Levi, a tax collector sitting at the booth, he said, "Follow me." The tax collector got up and followed him. Levi knew he was "burning the bridge" with Roman officials by following Jesus, but he was willing to risk it. While having dinner at Levi's house, there were other tax collectors and sinners who followed him. When the teachers of the law saw Jesus mingle with such sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Upon hearing this, Jesus answered, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting those who are sick with sin, and not those who are spiritually fit.”
The Levi who followed Jesus was later known as disciple Matthew, meaning the gift of God.
Jesus responded to a question why his disciples were not fasting, while that of John the Baptist were. He said that timing is everything. While the Bridegroom is with them, they will feast, and while he is gone, they will fast. He used the parables of new and old cloth, and new wine in old wineskins to respond.
Jesus had reached a crisis in his ministry as several people were following him. Their interest was in witnessing miracles and not spiritual. While walking through a grain field on a Sabbath, the disciples happened to pick some grain and eat them. Pharisees who used to follow Jesus questioned this. He quoted an incident from David.
Mark 2:27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath..."Jesus then linked himself to the God saying, "The son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."
I used to walk through a grain field while I was young. It is a wonderful experience that comes to my mind. Plucking grains is quite common while walking - especially when they are tall enough to reach our hands.
Getting our priorities right is quite important. Mark 2:27 is a powerful and thought provoking statement. We often tend to forget this in our community. In the eyes of God, human beings are most valuable. Our loving God is concerned with meeting the needs of the people than protecting religious traditions.