Dialogues with Jesus (Part 7)
- Summary: In these conversations Jesus speaks of faith for healing, the forgiveness of sins, the hypocrisy of the self-righteous, fasting, and a proper perspective on the Sabbath.
Mark 2:3-11 Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them.... (5) When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” ... (7) “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . .” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
- •• (5) “Jesus saw their faith.” James said, “I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18, KJV). True faith is observable, in that it impacts not just how we think, but how we act and live.
•• (5) Jesus said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Don’t lose sight of this, the greatest need — forgiveness of our sins by God.
•• (7) “He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” — That’s exactly the point! Jesus was Deity, God Incarnate (in the flesh).
- • The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says: “In Jewish teaching even the Messiah could not forgive sins. That was the prerogative of God alone.”
- •• (10f) “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . .” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
- • The healing was not an end in itself, but rather “that you may know...” Gifts of the Holy Spirit and demonstrations of the Holy Ghost and power confirm the word of the Gospel. Signs, wonders, healings, and miracles serve to validate the truthfulness of the Gospel message that is being preached.
Mark 2:16-17 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
- •• Jesus came not to call the “righteous” — seemingly referring in context to the self-righteous! — but “sinners.” This is a serious warning to those who are already Christians not to forget that in and of ourselves there is no righteousness. It is entirely the gracious gift of God.
- • There is also here a good reminder to us of the urgency in Jesus’ heart to see unconverted sinners saved. May that same urgency grip our hearts, too.
Mark 2:18-20 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.
- •• Fasting — (1) It was required in Moses’ Law only on the Day of Atonement (Numbers 29:7). (2) After the Babylonian Exile, the Jews observed at least four fasts — “the fasts of the 4th, 5th, 7th, and 10th months” (Zechariah 8:19). (3) In New Testament times, the stricter Pharisees fasted twice a week [reportedly, on Monday and Thursday] (Luke 18:12).
•• The New Testament Christian is not told precisely how little or how much to fast. But fasting is certainly mentioned in positive contexts.
- • Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights. No other New Testament person is recorded as fasting that long.
• Matthew 6:16 “When you fast...” Jesus expects His followers to be doing at least some fasting.
• Acts 13:2 “While [the Antioch church’s prophets and teachers] were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said...” Fasting was clearly practiced among the early Church’s leadership. Notice also that the context of worship and fasting cultivated a spiritual atmosphere in which they were able to hear a message from the Holy Spirit.
• Acts 13:3 “So after [the Antioch leadership] had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them [Barnabas and Saul] off.” Fasting with prayer preceded this major decision in the Antioch church to send two apostles forth into ministry. That they were “apostles” is confirmed in Acts 14:14.
• Acts 14:23 “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord...” Fasting and prayer accompanied such a major event as the appointment of new elders in a local church.
- •• In this parable Jesus likens His presence to being at a wedding. You don’t fast when you’re with the bridegroom! When He’s gone (Jesus is currently in heaven), that’s the time to fast.
Mark 2:23-28 ...(24) The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
- •• What they were doing, picking grain in a farmer's field, was legal — Deuteronomy 23:24-25 “...If you enter your neighbor’s grainfield, you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to his standing grain.”
•• The Pharisees’ objection was that they were doing this on the Sabbath.
•• Jesus replied to them that legitimate human need was a higher priority than religious ritual.
•• God never intended the Sabbath to be a strait jacket on mankind. Rather, it was given for man’s benefit, to have some rest from work and time to worship.
•• The Sabbath, with its related synagogue observances, was a God-given day of rest for mankind. The same could be said for church attendance — it is for our good, not a ritual that we “must” do.
This is part seven of a series of “Conversations with Jesus, the Son of God”. More "Conversations" can be found at the INDEX to Conversations with Jesus.
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©1999, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.