Setting

As word of what Jesus had said and done reached the scribes, they grumbled among themselves. They rejected Jesus because of His words and because He associated with sinners. Their opposition continued to increase until they openly accused Jesus of being demonpossessed (3:22) and plotted to kill Him (3:6).

Key Verse

(2:17)

Did You Know...?

1. Jesus probably was teaching in Simon’s house. The house roofs were usually made of wooden beams with thatch and compacted earth in order to shed the rain. Sometimes tiles were laid between the beams and the thatch and earth placed over them. Access to the roof was by means of an outside stairway. [ref] The family would sleep there, and use it as a living room during the day, as well as a storeroom, where raisins, figs, flax, were spread out in the sun. [ref]

2. Blasphemy (2:7): From the Greek blasphemeo, which means, “to slander.” Generally, it refers to slandering against God. [ref] There are two general forms of blasphemy: one is attributing evil to God, or denying Him glory and praise. The other is claiming a creature to be God. The punishment for blasphemy was death by stoning. [ref]

3. Levi (2:14): Another name for Matthew (Mt 9:9), author of the first book of the New Testament.

4. Tax collectors/publicans (2:15): Local Jewish men employed by Roman tax contractors to collect taxes. Because they worked for Rome and often demanded unreasonable payments, tax collectors were generally hated and considered to be traitors. [ref] A tax collector was stationed in a tax booth, which brought daily contact with all classes of the population, including the Gentiles, [ref] whom many Jews despised.

5. Pharisees (2:16): Literally, “Separated Ones.” They were teachers in the synagogues, religious examples in the eyes of the people and self-appointed guardians of the law and its proper observance. They considered the interpretations and regulations handed down by tradition to be virtually as authoritative as Scripture. [ref]

Outline

  • Healing A Paralytic
  • Jesus teaches a crowd
  • Four men lower a paralytic down from the roof
  • Jesus forgives the paralytic’s sins
    (2:5)
  • The scribes grumble
  • Jesus rebuffs the teachers and heals the paralytic
  • Calling the Sinners
  • Jesus teaches a crowd
  • Jesus calls Matthew and eats with the tax collectors and sinners
  • The scribes grumble
  • Jesus rebuffs the teachers

General Analysis

  • 1.

    Refer to the passage outline. How are the events in 1-12 and 13-17 similar?

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    There is a similar pattern:
    1. Jesus teaches a crowd.
    2. Jesus shows His compassion and power to sinners (to the paralytic and to Levi/Matthew and the tax collectors).
    3. The scribes accuse Jesus of a serious violation (blasphemy, and eating with sinners).
    4. Jesus immediately rebuffs the teachers.

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Segment Analysis

  • 2:1-12

    1.

    Why was each of the following in the house? a. Jesus; b. Crowd; c. Scribes

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    a. Jesus—He preached the word.
    b. Crowd—They came to see Jesus, perhaps to seek healing and miracles (Mk 1:32), perhaps to listen to the word of God.
    c. Scribes—They probably to judge Jesus, to see why he was drawing a crowd (6).

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  • 2a.

    Who or what prevented the four men from bringing the paralytic to Jesus?

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    The crowd inside and outside the door (2, 4), the scribes sitting inside (6), the roof (4)

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  • 2b.

    What did the scribes do wrong? What would you have done if you were someone in the crowd?

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    The crowd must have noticed the four men carrying the paralytic. They could have moved out of the way. Someone could have passed a message to Jesus. However, no one did. They only thought about seeing Jesus themselves. The scribes were there to pass judgment on Jesus, and basically took a space away from someone who truly wanted to hear the word.

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  • 2c.

    What are some difficulties today in asking Jesus for help? How might you be an obstacle to someone who wants to come to Christ?

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  • 3a.

    Verse 5 says, “Jesus saw their faith.” How did the paralytic show his faith? How did the four men show their faith?

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    The fact that Jesus forgave the paralytic’s sins is an indirect proof that he had faith, because we are justified by our faith (Rom 3:28). Also, the paralytic remained silent throughout, and simply obeyed Jesus (11-12). He saw the faith of his four friends and let them help him. The four men did not give up, in spite of the obstacles (many people blocked their way; they also must have need to find ropes to lower the paralytic). They even risked upsetting the owner of the house and the crowd by taking apart the roof and making a commotion by lowering the paralytic into the house.

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  • 3b.

    How do you show your faith to Jesus?

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  • 3c.

    What can we learn from the four men in bringing people to Christ?

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    Just as the four men’s faith played a part in the healing, our faith in the Lord is also essential in allowing the people we bring to Christ experience God’s grace. The Lord not only looks at the faith of the person in need, but also the faith of those who help this person. So we ought to trust and believe in God’s mercy and power when we are helping someone in need.

    The actions that accompanied these four men’s faith are truly remarkable. Because of their faith, they were willing to go through all that trouble to bring the paralytic to Jesus. Likewise, our faith is demonstrated when we are willing to invest our time, money, thoughts, and energy in helping the spiritual needs of others. God recognizes and responds to this kind of faith.

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  • 4.

    What are your weaknesses/shortcomings? How can a brother or sister in Christ help you overcome them?

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  • 5a.

    Why did Jesus first forgive the paralytic’s sins (5)?

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    Jesus came to preach (Mk 1:38) and to call sinners (17). It was more important to forgive a person’s sins so that his soul is saved. However, Jesus also has compassion on our sufferings (Mk 1:41) and heals our illnesses to prove His authority to forgive sins (10). (This implies that sometimes an illness is caused by our sins [Jas 5:15]).

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  • 5b.

    What was Jesus implicitly claiming by forgiving the sins of the paralytic?

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    He was claiming to be God, for only God alone can forgive sins (7). This was why Jesus’ words upset the scribes.

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  • 5c.

    What did the healing of the paralytic prove?

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    Jesus’ divine power to heal proved that He also had the divine power to forgive sins (10). Furthermore, it proved that Jesus was indeed God, who alone can forgive sins.

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  • 6.

    Are miracles necessary to maintain your faith, or to preach to someone?

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    Many miracles and signs are witnessed in the True Jesus Church. However, we must have the correct priorities. Like the crowd, sometimes we are more amazed by earthly blessing (healing) than by spiritual mercy (forgiveness of sins). Jesus tells us that the greater and more powerful work is the forgiveness of sin (9). We must seek the greater, spiritual blessings.

    Daniel’s three friends believed God would perform a miracle and save them from the furnace. However, they also said, “But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Dan 3:18). They knew that to obey God was more important than anything else.

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  • 7.

    What does verse 8 reveal about Jesus?

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    Jesus was able to perceive in His spirit what the scribes were reasoning in their hearts. This supernatural power shows that He was from God, for only the Spirit of God can search and perceive the secret thoughts of men

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  • 2:13-17

    8.

    How is Matthew’s calling similar to that of Simon, Andrew, James, and John? (cf. 1:16-20).

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    In both, they were at their jobs when Jesus called them. Jesus said, “Follow me,” and they followed Him. Because Matthew followed Jesus just as quickly as the fishermen did, he probably also knew about Jesus. (cf. Lesson 3, Question 3).

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  • 9a.

    What did Matthew leave behind by following Jesus? Compare that to what the fishermen left behind.

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    Matthew gave up a profitable job. The fishermen also gave up a profitable job. Matthew’s job made him a target of hatred. On the other hand, the fishermen’s job was respectable. Often God calls us out of the status quo to make a change in our lives. Sometimes it means leaving some comforts behind. Sometimes it means making a determination to overcome our shortcomings.

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  • 9b.

    What have you left behind by following Christ? What have you gained?

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  • 10.

    In verse 15, Mark mentions “many tax collectors and sinners.” Is it a derogatory reference? Why or why not?

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    It is not derogatory. Matthew himself uses the same description (Mt 9:10). The NIV puts the word “sinners” in quotes, implying that the term was used not in the usual context. The fact that Jesus ate with them shows that He did not despise them. In this case, the Bible is just stating a fact, without a sense of condemnation. We are all sinners, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). We must confess that we are sinners before we can believe and repent.

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  • 11a.

    In verse 17, who were “the righteous”? Who were “sinners”?

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    “The righteous” referred to the scribes who thought that they were righteous and looked down on others. Jesus did not call them because they had already rejected His message. The “sinners” were the ones who humbled themselves and followed Jesus.

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  • 11b.

    Have you ever looked down on a person? Why?

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  • 11c.

    What does Jesus’ words teach us about how we should view ourselves in order to receive His grace?

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    While everyone has the need of God, not everyone recognizes or acknowledges that need. All are sinners, but Jesus Christ will heal only sinners who see themselves as sinners, not sinners who think that they are righteous. So it is important for us to humbly confess our need of God and our unworthiness in order to receive Christ’s spiritual healing (cf. Lk 18:9-14; Jn 9:39-41; Jas 4:6).

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