Try out the new BibleStudyTools.com. Click here!

Studying Mark's Gospel: Love, Legalism, and Lordship

Lesson 3: Love, Legalism and Lordship

Mark 2

LAST WEEK IN REVIEW

Our previous study of Mark 1:21-45 examined Jesus’ actions that signified that the Kingdom of God was truly beginning to dawn upon history. He demonstrated an amazing authority to those who heard Him proclaim God’s Word. In casting out demons He showed that Satan’s kingship over peoples’ hearts must end before the Kingdom of Heaven can reign in its place. The people were truly amazed by the things Jesus was doing, and multitudes of people were ministered to as He selflessly served them out of compassion. Yet in all this, Jesus realized that the crowds were growing and He had become extremely popular and effective in that area, so what did He do? He left! He knew that to continue without getting back to His primary calling would only be a hindrance more than helping. It was not yet time for Him to face the hour that His Father set long ago in which He would deal with the sin of humanity. As we turn to this week’s study, consider that many feel that Mark 2 is one united account of examples of the increasing opposition Jesus faced to His attempts to minister to those people whom hypocritical religionists had rejected.[1] Let’s turn to the lessons that this chapter teaches as we look at the love of Jesus, the legalism of the religious leaders, and Jesus’ ultimate lordship over the very things they accused Him of!

DAY ONE:  The Heart of our Need

Please carefully read Mark 2:1-5 and answer the following questions.

1.  We aren’t told specifically when these events took place, but what happened again when Jesus returned to the area (v. 1-2a)? 

2.  How did Jesus redirect the people to their most important need at the time (v. 2b)?

NOTE: The word preached is in an imperfect tense, emphasizing this was a continuous action.[2]

3.  Inside and outside this home was a crowd of people. Archaeological digs in the area have revealed the average house to be no more than eighteen feet wide, so this home could only have held about fifty people at the most.[3] On the scene came four men carrying a friend who had palsy or paralysis of some sort, wanting to have Him touched by Jesus. Seeing the crowd, what did they decide to do (v. 3, 4)?

4.  What a sight that must have been! As Jesus taught, suddenly the roof starts giving way, and before they knew it, here comes a man on a mat being lowered down in their midst! They literally “unroofed the roof,” removing whatever tiling there was, and dug through the materials composing the rest of the roof of the house. We can all but see Peter cramped in one corner yelling about his roof being destroyed, and the smile or even laugh of Jesus as this man is set down before Him! What does verse 5 say about Jesus’ reaction to and then action toward this man and his friends?

5.  Jesus surely loved and honored these men for their step of faith. Looking at this man, Jesus called him son, a term of endearment used regardless of the age of the person.[4] Often we feel unworthy to bring our problems or needs before the Lord, as this man may have felt embarrassed at being the center of attention. Yet Jesus reached out and touched not just his physical but also his eternal need. What does Romans 8:15-32 remind us about this when we feel unworthy of His work in our lives?

Scripture Memory: This week we will be memorizing Mark 2:17. Review the passage several times throughout the day each day this week, and by the end of the week, you should have it memorized completely.

When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” 

Mark 2:17, nkjv

DAY TWO: A Shocking Response

Please carefully read Mark 2:6-12 and answer the following questions.

1.  This statement of Jesus didn’t sit well at all with the religious leaders; in fact this was shocking to them.  What were they thinking to themselves about this (v. 7)? 

2.  These religious leaders were in part correct in their accusation, for God alone can forgive sins, and if Jesus was a mere man, what He said could have been taken as blasphemy. Of course, being the Son of God, He would have that power and authority, and indeed He read their very thoughts about this! How did He interestingly answer these accusations (v. 8-10)?

3.  What did Jesus then say to this man, and what was the result (v. 11-12)?

4.  The impact of this incident was unquestionably tremendous. The poor guy had to literally push his way through the stunned onlookers to go home! Those in the crowd, including the religious leaders, were amazed (literally, out of their minds with shock) and had to praise and glorify God because of this supernatural display of Jesus’ power.[5] This was but one demonstration of the fact that this Son of Man was indeed Son of God. 

This also speaks to our personal relationship with Christ. One of the biggest obstacles the enemy throws in front of us to make us ineffective is wallowing in our own self-pity and self-condemnation (as if his wasn’t enough!) for our failures. In this passage, the word used for forgiving sin means to send and drive it away, dismissing and freeing us from its guilt.[6] We must realize that our sins have been forgiven in that same way. Read the following passages about the forgiveness we have in Christ and record what they speak to us about no longer letting sin paralyze us.

Psalms 103:11-18

Romans 8:1-4

Colossians 2:13-15

Scripture Memory:  Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are _______________ have no need of a physician, but those who are ________________. I did not come to call the righteous, but ___________________________, to repentance.”  Mark 2:17

DAY THREE:  Jesus Embraces the Outcast

Please carefully read Mark 2:13-17 and answer the following questions.

1.  Presumably the next day, though we aren’t told for sure, what did Jesus do (v. 13)?

2.  Capernaum was a customs post on the caravan route between the Mediterranean Sea and Damascus, thus it was not surprising that there would be tax and duty stations there.[7] What amazing thing did Jesus do there, and what was the reaction (v. 14-15)?

3.  The word Pharisee literally means pure or separated one. This separation from what was viewed as unclean had become their focus, and they felt that even association with sinners could lead to contamination, especially eating with them, so obviously they questioned Jesus’ morality in this.[8] They especially felt that the tax collectors were among the worst of society. The Roman government would sell the right to collect taxes to publicans, or tax farmers, who could keep the profit over the amount that they contracted with Rome to collect; Matthew would have been an under-hireling to one of these publicans, who could also keep whatever they received above the amount they were hired to collect from the people.[9] They were hated by the Jews for being traitors to their own people, as well as for handling currency with blasphemous pagan inscriptions and for contamination by their interaction with the Gentiles.[10] How does this account for their reaction to what Jesus was doing (v. 16)?

4.  This religious intolerance of the lower classes of people who had little hope of attaining to the self-righteous legalism of the Pharisees (although in fact this was never commanded by the Law, but by their man-made traditions) had made them outcasts, overlooked, rejected, less than nothing in the Pharisees’ sight. Yet it was these people who found a home with our Lord, not the legalists! What was Jesus’ classic response (v. 17)?

5.  We too have the choice whether to admit we have been desperately ill in sin and turn to our Great Physician or to try to live by legalism in denial of the very cancer of sin that will kill us. For those who are feeling rather smug like these religionists did, what are some facts that the following passages remind us of? 

Romans 3:10-12; Romans 5:6-12

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Ephesians 2:1-3

If Jesus Christ does not mean anything to you it is because you have not entered into the domain where He dwells; you may have to enter that domain through a ruthless doorway. Immediately you go through the bottom board of self-complacency and come to the elemental you enter the domain of struggle and sin, and Jesus Christ begins to tell at once. Men are alive physically and intellectually apart from Jesus Christ, and as long as they are satisfied with that attitude to life Jesus Christ is not a necessity; the wholesome-minded type is totally oblivious to Jesus Christ. ‘I did not come for the whole,’ said Jesus, ‘but for they that are sick’[11]

Scripture Memory:  Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

When Jesus ______________________ it, He said to them, “Those who are _______________ have no need of a ____________________, but those who are ________________. I did not come to _____________ the righteous, but ___________________________, to repentance.”  Mark 2:17

DAY FOUR:  The Heart of our Actions

Please carefully read Mark 2:18-22 and answer the following questions.

1.  Another incident Mark records about the conflict that the religious leaders provoked about Jesus was His treatment of fasting. Evidently this was one of the weekly fast days that the Pharisees and John kept, so this led to a clash of standpoints.[12] What was Jesus’ response to the lack of His disciples fasting like theirs did (v. 19, 20)?

 2.  Fasting was indeed an important part of the Jewish experience, but to fast during the wedding feast, or at a time of great joy, made little sense. Indeed they would fast, and Jesus taught guidelines about fasting especially in the Sermon on the Mount. What kind of fast is most important to God anyway according to Isaiah 58:6-12?

3.  It is indeed the heart of the person that God is concerned with, not their legalistic efforts to try to please Him. What analogy did Jesus use to try to describe this to them (v. 21-22)?

4.  It is the heart of our actions, or perhaps better the actions of our heart, that God is looking for. How did the prophets Hosea (Hosea 2:18-23; Hosea 6:1-6), Micah (Micah 6:6-8), and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34) try to teach these principles of newness, not dead religiosity, several hundred years before this?

Scripture Memory:  Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today. 

When Jesus ______________________ it, He said to them, “Those who are _______________ have no need of a ____________________, but those who are ________________. I did not come to _____________ the ________________________, but ___________________________, to _________________________.”  Mark 2:17

DAY FIVE:  The Lord of the Sabbath

Please carefully read Mark 2:23-28 and answer the following questions.

1.  The fourth example Mark listed was a conflict between the legalists and Jesus about the Sabbath. What did the disciples do that was so upsetting to the Pharisees this time (v. 23-24)?

2.  The Law didn’t prohibit a hungry person from taking some fruit or grain from a neighbor’s field on the Sabbath unless they filled a vessel or used a tool to do so (Deuteronomy 23:24-25), yet the Pharisees had so legalized the Sabbath that they accused the disciples of working on that day.[13] What analogy did Jesus give in response, which would have been a much more serious offense (v. 25-26)?

3.  What error had they made about their treatment of the Sabbath (v. 27)?

4.  There has been great disagreement between some Christian groups about the Sabbath and keeping it today, which we don’t have space to go into here. Again, the error comes in ignoring the heart of the action, or the action of the heart about such things. What does Colossians 2:16-23 about such disputes over religious rituals? What type of rest remains for the believer today (Hebrews 4:8-11)?

5.  How did Jesus conclude His response to the Pharisees about this, again no doubt shocking His hearers (v. 28)?

NOTE: The Greek word for Lord (kurios) means being both the possessor and disposer of a thing, so He had the right to say such things about it; but it also was the word that the Septuagint (Greek) translation of the Old Testament used for the title of Jehovah; in that sense, He claimed to be the Lord who created the Sabbath, brought into being for our sake, not for us to be its slave! “The Sabbath for the sake of man came into being, and not man for the sake of the Sabbath.”[14]

Scripture Memory:  Can you write out this week’s passage by memory here below? Give it a try, and keep reviewing the passage several times throughout the day.

Mark 2:17:

 

DAY SIX: Following Christ

1.  This week we examined four different areas in which the religious leaders found fault with Jesus. This was because of their narrow legalistic interpretation, not coming from a true understanding of the Word of God. They ignored the heart of the matter, that which truly matters in God’s sight. As the prophet Samuel told the failing king Saul, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” 1 Samuel 15:22-23 (nkjv). As you look back over your study this week, record here some of the things that spoke to you personally about things regarding:

The paralysis of sin and self condemnation versus what Christ has done for you in forgiving the debt you could never pay:

The need to admit we are desperately ill in our sin apart from Christ, who reaches out and embraces the outcast, rather than those who think they are good enough without Him as our Great Physician:

How your life demonstrates the new person Christ wants you to be in Him, His new wine in new wineskins, accepting His permanent repair job from the inside out: 

How well you are resting in Christ, rather than striving or nit-picking legalistically in trying to walk rightly before Him:

2.  Jesus made several important claims about Himself in responding to these conflicts. How did they strike you or minister to you personally?

He has the power and authority to forgive our sins as the Son of Man:

He is the Great Physician who has brought the only cure for what ails us:

He is our heavenly Bridegroom on Whom we wait:

He is the Lord of the Sabbath, the Creator and possessor of it:

Scripture Memory:  Hopefully you now can write out this week’s passage completely by memory. Do so now, and keep on reviewing it so you will be ready to share it with others in your group time. 

Mark 2:17:

 


[1] Larry W. Hurtado, Mark.  In W. Ward Gasque ed., New International Commentary Vol. 2 (Peabody:  Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1983, 1989), p. 35.

[2] Unless otherwise noted, word meanings described in this lesson are based on the following:  A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Oak Harbor:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1932, 1933, 1997); James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible:  Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order, Electronic Edition (Woodside Bible Fellowship:  Ontario, 1996); M. R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2002); Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament; for the English Reader (Grand Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., in Logos Research Systems, Inc., Bellingham, 1984, 1997); and Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary:  New Testament (Chattanooga:  AMG Publishers, Electronic Edition.  In Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1992, 1993, 2000).

[3] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary (Downer’s Grove:  InterVarsity Press, 1993), p. 139.

[4] James A. Brooks, Mark.  In David S. Dockery ed., The New American Commentary Vol. 23 (Nashville:  Broadman Press, 1991), p. 58.

[5] John D. Grossmick, Mark.  In John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament (Wheaton:  Victor Books/SP Publications, 1983), p. 113.

[6] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville:  Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2005), p. 50.

[7] John D. Grossmick, Mark, p. 113.

[8] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, p.141;  John Phillips, Exploring the Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids:  Kregel Publications, 2004), p. 61.

[9] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary, pp. 1201, 1202.

[10] Robert H. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament 4th Ed. (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 1970, 1981, 1994, 2003), p. 33.

[11] Oswald Chambers, Biblical Ethics (Hants, UK:  Marshall, Morgan, and Scott, 1947; in Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).

[12] A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Oak Harbor:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1932, 1933, 1997)

[13] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 1 (Wheaton:  Victor Books/SP Publications, 1989), p. 118.

[14] From The New Testament: An Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest Copyright © 1961 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. All rights reserved.


 © 2005 by Harvest Christian Fellowship. All rights reserved. Written by Thomas Klock for Men’s Bible Fellowship, 2005-2006. www.Harvest.org