Mark 2

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Mark 2:1-2 it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together

Bruce R. McConkie

"Jesus is now back in Capernaum after a long Galilean tour of teaching and healing. The flames of his fame-fanned by his words, fed by the flow of miracles-are blazing forth in every part of Palestine. Never was a man's name on as many Palestinian tongues as is this Man's. His doctrine, his deeds, his doings-all that he says and every good thing that he does-are discussed in every home, at every festive meal, in every synagogue. The believing among the sick and the penitent among the afflicted seek him with a hope of being healed; those who hunger and thirst after righteousness hang on his every word and find peace to their souls as they live in harmony with his teachings; the rulers and the rebellious rate him as an evil troublemaker and seek ways to entrap and defame and even to slay him." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 2: 47.)

Mark 2:4 when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was

This miraculous healing is remarkable on many levels. The man carried in on a stretcher would soon carry it out by his own power. But if faith precedes the miracle, then the palsied man and his friendly foursome had faith even as great as a grain of mustard seed. So many of us would have seen the crowd huddled around the door and given up exclaiming, "I hate crowds." Others might have edged as close as possible, hoping to hear a word or catch a glimpse. Still others when hindered by the press might begin to press others out of their way.

But faith is the power to see things which are unseen. This includes the power to see possibilities that others do not or will not. Such is the faith of the palsied man. His faith was the kind of faith that thinks of a way to accomplish the impossible. His was the faith that breaks down barriers, tears up roofs, and uses ropes or whatever is needed to accomplish the task. His ingenuity and persistence are an example to all of us on the path of discipleship. If we are hindered by 'the press,' or turn back because we can't seem to get close enough to the Lord, it is only because we lack the faith and persistence to receive both forgiveness and a physical blessing at his hand. Indeed, only persistence amidst the press brings us to the presence of the Master.

Mark 2:10 that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins

"It is very clear from the way this miracle is reported, particularly in the Joseph Smith Translation, that Jesus used the healing of the body, which they could see with their physical eyes, to illustrate his ability to heal a soul, which they could not see. He used this miracle as a teaching device. It surely worked well, for the people were all amazed and said, 'We never saw it on this fashion.'" (Robert J. Matthews, Behold the Messiah [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 221.)

"Jesus could have told the palsied man that his sins were forgiven, and no observer would have been able to prove or disprove whether it actually was so. But when he commanded a sick man to rise and walk, the validity of his power was immediately able to be tested. Hence in a hostile situation it is easier to say that sins are forgiven. But so that those present would know that he had power to do both, Jesus used the healing of the body as evidence of his power to forgive sins." (Robert J. Matthews, Behold the Messiah [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 137.)

Mark 2:14 he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom

Bruce R. McConkie

"Publicans are tax collectors; they represent Rome and are a symbol of the tyranny and oppression of the Gentile yoke. Partiality, avarice, greed, exacting more than is lawful, and petty oppression are deemed, in the public mind, to be a way of life with them. 'The rabbis ranked them as cutthroats and robbers, as social outcasts, as religiously half-excommunicated.' (Commentary 1:181.) It is assumed their wealth comes from rapine and their business is the business of extortioners.

"It is to this class of people that Matthew belongs. Manifestly the claims made against them are exaggerated and do not apply to all individual tax collectors." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 2: 56.)

Mark 2:17 They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick

James E. Talmage

"Who of us can regard tuberculosis, smallpox, or the insidious and deadly influenza that has swept the earth, with other feelings than repugnance and fear? Yet we treat the afflicted person with effort to bring about his recovery; and if we loved him while well, we do not hate him because he has become ill; but, to the contrary, we become the more solicitous in his behalf...the Divine Healer met the casuistry of certain self-righteous scribes and Pharisees with the declaration: 'They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.' (Mark 2:17.)

"The Lord, however, is merciful to the sinner... I learn from the scriptures that the Lord hates sin in every one of its multifarious manifestations, but he is kind and merciful and long-suffering toward the sinner." (Conference Report, October 1920, Afternoon Session 61-62.)

Mark 2:17 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance

"A casual reading may not uncover the force of the Savior's remarks above, but a little meditation on the subject will do so. Who in this world does not need the teachings and saving power of Jesus? Who among all mankind is truly righteous without the gospel of Christ? Can anyone be redeemed without the Redeemer? Is there any other way? Is there any other salvation? When Jesus said he was sent only to the sick, that was true; but who among all mankind is not sick? Were the complaining, self-righteous Pharisees spiritually whole and well? Were not they sinners also? Unquestionably they were sicker and in greater need of Jesus' healing influence than were those 'sinners' whom they despised. When Jesus said to the Pharisees, 'I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,' he was in fact condemning the Pharisaic brand of self-righteousness which had blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts to the reality of their own sinful condition." (Robert J. Matthews, A Bible! A Bible!, 226-227 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the New Testament: The Four Gospels, by Pinegar, Bassett, and Earl, p. 71-72)

Mark 2:19 Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?

See commentary for Matthew 9:15.

Mark 2:22 no man putteth new wine into old bottles

"Juice was extracted from the vat and put into wineskins ('bottles' made from goatskins) or earthenware jars. New wine-grape juice-was put into new bottles, 'else the new wine doth burst the [old] bottles, and the wine is spilled.' (Mark 2:22.) Fermenting wine would expand and stretch the wineskin and cause it to burst if it was old and already stretched. Jesus' intent was to avoid packaging the fresh, new fruit of the vine (the gospel produced from the True Vine) in the old and already stretched skin of Judaism. With pointed insight into human nature, he explained that 'no man . . . having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.' (Luke 5:39.)" (D. Kelly Ogden, Where Jesus Walked: The Land and Culture of New Testament Times [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 93.)

Mark 2:24 why do they on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful

Bruce R. McConkie

"By this one Sabbath-performed act, our Lord's fellow travelers were guilty of two violations, not of biblical, but of Rabbinic law. They had both reaped and harvested. The plucking of the ears of corn constituted reaping, and the rubbing off of the husks fell under the sabbatical prohibition against sifting in a sieve, threshing, sifting out fruit, grinding, or fanning. Each of these sins merited punishment and required a sin offering on the great altar in the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.

"Spying eyes-viewing, we suppose, with prosecutorial pleasure-observed the two sins, which they could argue were capital offenses. Perhaps these peering Pharisees were following to see if the disciples of the New Order would walk more than the two thousand cubits allowed by the Rabbinic restrictions on the Sabbath day; perhaps they hoped to witness the sins of harvesting and threshing. Seeing what they did, they complained to Jesus: 'Thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.'" (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 2: 84.)

Hugh Nibley

"In passing through any field or vineyard in Israel, anyone was free to take what he needed if he was hungry (as the Lord and the apostles did; Mark 2:23); if the owner denied him that, he was breaking the law; if the person took more than he needed for lunch, then he was breaking the law-it was still manna (Deuteronomy 23:24-25)." (Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 216 - 217.)

Mark 2:27 The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath

James E. Faust

"Jesus reaffirmed the importance of the Sabbath day devotion, but he introduced a new spirit into this part of worship. Rather than observe the endless technicalities and prohibitions concerning what should and should not be done on the Lord's day, he affirmed that it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath (see Matthew 12:12). He taught us that 'the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day' (verse 8) and introduced the principle that 'the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath' (Mark 2:27). He performed good deeds on the Sabbath, such as healing the man with palsy (see Mark 2:1-12) as well as the man with the paralyzed hand (see Matthew 12:10-13). So the divine mandate of Sabbath day observance in our day is now a manifestation of individual devotion and commitment rather than a requirement of civil law...Keeping the Sabbath day holy is much more than just physical rest. It involves spiritual renewal and worship. President Spencer W. Kimball gave excellent counsel on Sabbath day observance. He said:

"The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things. Abstinence from work and recreation is important but insufficient. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it. To observe it, one will be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, sleeping, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day to which he is expected. To fail to do these proper things is a transgression on the omission side.'" (Finding Light in a Dark World [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 111 - 112.)

Russell M. Nelson

"In taking this commandment seriously, the early children of Israel compiled long lists of deeds that were not permitted on the Sabbath. The Savior came later to clarify that man was not created for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was created for man. (See Mark 2:27.)

"When I was a youth, I wondered just what activities were appropriate for the Sabbath. I read lists of dos and don'ts, all prepared by others. But now I have a much better understanding. I gained precious insight from two Old Testament scriptures. The first is from Exodus: 'The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, . . . My sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.' (Exodus 31:12-13.) The other scripture is from Ezekiel: 'I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them. . . . I am the Lord your God; . . . hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.' (Ezekiel 20:12, 19-20.)

"Now I understand that my behavior on the Sabbath is my sign to the Lord of my regard for him and for the covenant under which I was born. If, on the one hand, my interests on the Sabbath were turned to pro football games or worldly movies, the sign from me to him would clearly be that my devotion would not favor the Lord. If, on the other hand, my Sabbath interests were focused on the Lord and his teachings, my family, or the sick, or the poor, and the needy, that sign would likewise be visible to God. Our activities on the Sabbath will be appropriate as we consider them to be our personal sign to him of our commitment to the Lord." (The Power within Us [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1988], 126-127.)

Mark 2:28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath

"While Jesus was in Galilee the Pharisees criticized him for letting his disciples pluck ears of corn to eat on the Sabbath as they traveled through the fields. Jesus defended their behavior by comparing it to an event in the Old Testament in which David in a time of emergency ate shewbread from the tabernacle, which was ordinarily reserved only for the priests. As reported in the King James Version, Jesus said to the Pharisees, 'The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.' Apparently the intent of the passage was to present a compelling argument, as seen by the concluding sentence: 'Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.' (Mark 2:27-28.) The therefore indicates that Jesus had presented to the critical Pharisees some decisive or irrefutable facts to explain why the Sabbath was instituted and how he became the Lord of it. In the abbreviated condition of the passage as it now exists in the King James Version the argument is simply not there.

"The Joseph Smith Translation remedies the situation by retaining all that the King James Version has and adding several key factors to the discussion: 'And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Wherefore the Sabbath was given unto man for a day of rest; and also that man should glorify God, and not that man should not eat; for the Son of Man made the Sabbath day, therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath.' ([Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible]. The Holy Scriptures: Inspired Version. Independence, Mo.: Herald Publishing House, 1970 Mark 2:25-27.) The reasoning is thus completed: the purpose of the Sabbath is explained, and the final therefore is consistent with the Savior's declaration that since he made the Sabbath he is the Lord of it." (Robert J. Matthews, Behold the Messiah [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 190.)

JST Mark 2:27 For the Son of man made the Sabbath day

The Joseph Smith Translation makes clear that Jesus openly taught of his own divinity. Here, he declares that he made the Sabbath day! The Pharisees must have thought, "God made the Sabbath day as it is written, 'God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.' (Gen. 2:3) If this man Jesus claims that he made the Sabbath day, he must also claim to have created the earth!"

The Savior further disclosed his divine identity in the previous interaction. According to the Joseph Smith Translation, when the Pharisees questioned him about the fast (v. 18; Matt. 9:14) they also questioned him about baptism and the law. The answer they received was the following, 'ye keep not the law. If ye had kept the law, ye would have received me, for I am he who gave the law' (JST Matt 9:19). Properly understood, Jesus of Nazareth was claiming to be the God of the burning bush, the author of the Ten Commandments, and the being to whom Moses spoke 'face to face' (Ex. 33:11).

Many have argued that Jesus never claimed to be divine. Such is not the case. In the synagogue of Nazareth, he claimed to be the Messiah (Luke 4:16-21). To the Pharisees, he declared that he had made the Sabbath, thereby implying he created the earth. He claimed to have given the law to Moses, thereby implying that he was the God of the Old Testament. Jesus was Jehovah and he was willing to prove it. When they murmured saying, 'who can forgive sins but God only?' (v. 7), he proved he was God by forgiving sin and healing the palsy.

Mark 2:28 The significance of the title "the Son of Man"

Bruce R. McConkie

"Our Lord assumed the prerogative, during his mortal ministry, of identifying himself as the Son of Man. For instance, to justify himself and his disciples in violating the restrictive Jewish rules relative to Sabbath observance he said, 'The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.' (Mark 2:23-28.) And to Peter and the other apostles he put the incisive question, 'Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?' and received the Spirit-revealed answer: 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' (Matt. 16:13-17.) There are in fact some seventy New Testament passages in which he identifies himself as the Son of Man and speaks of such things as having power on earth to forgive sins; of his betrayal, crucifixion, death, and resurrection; of confessing fellowship with the righteous before his Father; and of returning in great power and glory, attended by the angelic hosts.

"Why this designation? Did he have in mind the sectarian notion that he was the offspring of a mortal woman and that therefore he was born of man? Obviously the title could be so applied if we simply looked at the words used and had no spirit of scriptural interpretation and understanding. But the fact is that this exalted name-title has a deep and glorious connotation and is in many respects one of the most meaningful and self-identifying appellations applying to the divine Son. Its greatest significance lies in the fact that it identifies and reveals who the Father is.

"In the early dispensations, the Father revealed many of his names. 'Behold, I am God; Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name, also,' he said to Enoch. (Moses 7:35.) As we shall see shortly, another of his names is 'Righteousness,' or, perhaps better, 'Man of Righteousness.' In other words, to signify that he is the personification and embodiment of those godly attributes which men must obtain if they are to be one with him, he takes these attributes as his names. Thus we read that it was said to the first man: 'In the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.' (Moses 6:57.)

"That is, the Father is a Holy Man. Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man of Holiness, or in its abbreviated form, the Son of Man." (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 139.)