Christ heals one sick of the palsy. (1-12) Levi's call, and the entertainment given to Jesus. (13-17) Why Christ's disciples did not fast. (18-22) He justifies his disciples for plucking corn on the sabbath. (23-28)
Verses 1-12 It was this man's misery that he needed to be so carried, and shows the suffering state of human life; it was kind of those who so carried him, and teaches the compassion that should be in men, toward their fellow-creatures in distress. True faith and strong faith may work in various ways; but it shall be accepted and approved by Jesus Christ. Sin is the cause of all our pains and sicknesses. The way to remove the effect, is to take away the cause. Pardon of sin strikes at the root of all diseases. Christ proved his power to forgive sin, by showing his power to cure the man sick of the palsy. And his curing diseases was a figure of his pardoning sin, for sin is the disease of the soul; when it is pardoned, it is healed. When we see what Christ does in healing souls, we must own that we never saw the like. Most men think themselves whole; they feel no need of a physician, therefore despise or neglect Christ and his gospel. But the convinced, humbled sinner, who despairs of all help, excepting from the Saviour, will show his faith by applying to him without delay.
Verses 13-17 Matthew was not a good character, or else, being a Jew, he would never have been a publican, that is, a tax-gatherer for the Romans. However, Christ called this publican to follow him. With God, through Christ, there is mercy to pardon the greatest sins, and grace to change the greatest sinners, and make them holy. A faithful, fair-dealing publican was rare. And because the Jews had a particular hatred to an office which proved that they were subject to the Romans, they gave these tax-gatherers an ill name. But such as these our blessed Lord did not hesitate to converse with, when he appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh. And it is no new thing for that which is both well done and well designed, to be slandered, and turned to the reproach of the wisest and best of men. Christ would not withdraw, though the Pharisees were offended. If the world had been righteous, there had been no occasion for his coming, either to preach repentance, or to purchase forgiveness. We must not keep company with ungodly men out of love to their vain conversation; but we are to show love to their souls, remembering that our good Physician had the power of healing in himself, and was in no danger of taking the disease; but it is not so with us. In trying to do good to others, let us be careful we do not get harm to ourselves.
Verses 18-22 Strict professors are apt to blame all that do not fully come up to their own views. Christ did not escape slanders; we should be willing to bear them, as well as careful not to deserve them; but should attend to every part of our duty in its proper order and season.
Verses 23-28 The sabbath is a sacred and Divine institution; a privilege and benefit, not a task and drudgery. God never designed it to be a burden to us, therefore we must not make it so to ourselves. The sabbath was instituted for the good of mankind, as living in society, having many wants and troubles, preparing for a state of happiness or misery. Man was not made for the sabbath, as if his keeping it could be of service to God, nor was he commanded to keep it outward observances to his real hurt. Every observance respecting it, is to be interpreted by the rule of mercy.
Mark 2:1-12 . HEALING OF A PARALYTIC. ( = Matthew 9:1-8 Luke 5:17-26 ).
This incident, as remarked on Matthew 9:1 , appears to follow next in order of time after the cure of the leper ( Mark 1:40-45 ).
1. And again he entered into Capernaum--"His own city" ( Matthew 9:1 ).
and it was noised that he was in the house--no doubt of Simon Peter ( Mark 1:29 ).
2. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door--This is one of Mark's graphic touches. No doubt in this case, as the scene occurred at his informant's own door, these details are the vivid recollections of that honored disciple.
and he preached the word unto them--that is, indoors; but in the hearing, doubtless, of the multitude that pressed around. Had He gone forth, as He naturally would, the paralytic's faith would have had no such opportunity to display itself. Luke ( Luke 5:17 ) furnishes an additional and very important incident in the scene--as follows: "And it came to pass on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town," or village, "of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem." This was the highest testimony yet borne to our Lord's growing influence, and the necessity increasingly felt by the ecclesiastics throughout the country of coming to some definite judgment regarding Him. "And the power of the Lord was [present] to heal them"--or, "was [efficacious] to heal them," that is, the sick that were brought before Him. So that the miracle that is now to be described was among the most glorious and worthy to be recorded of many then performed; and what made it so was doubtless the faith which was manifested in connection with it, and the proclamation of the forgiveness of the patient's sins that immediately preceded it.
3. And they come unto him--that is, towards the house where He was.
bringing one sick of the palsy--"lying on a bed" ( Matthew 9:2 ).
which was borne of four--a graphic particular of Mark only.
4. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press--or, as in Luke ( Luke 5:19 ), "when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude," they "went upon the housetop"--the flat or terrace-roof, universal in Eastern houses.
they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed--or portable couch
wherein the sick of the palsy lay--Luke ( Luke 5:19 ) says, they "let him down through the tilling with his couch into the midst before Jesus." Their whole object was to bring the patient into the presence of Jesus; and this not being possible in the ordinary way, because of the multitude that surrounded Him, they took the very unusual method here described of accomplishing their object, and succeeded. Several explanations have been given of the way in which this was done; but unless we knew the precise plan of the house, and the part of it from which Jesus taught--which may have been a quadrangle or open court, within the buildings of which Peter's house was one, or a gallery covered by a veranda--it is impossible to determine precisely how the thing was done. One thing, however, is clear, that we have both the accounts from an eye-witness.
5. When Jesus saw their faith--It is remarkable that all the three narratives call it "their faith" which Jesus saw. That the patient himself had faith, we know from the proclamation of his forgiveness, which Jesus made before all; and we should have been apt to conclude that his four friends bore him to Jesus merely out of benevolent compliance with the urgent entreaties of the poor sufferer. But here we learn, not only that his bearers had the same faith with himself, but that Jesus marked it as a faith which was not to be defeated--a faith victorious over all difficulties. This was the faith for which He was ever on the watch, and which He never saw without marking, and, in those who needed anything from Him, richly rewarding.
he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son--"be of good cheer" ( Matthew 9:2 ).
thy sins be forgiven thee--By the word "be," our translators perhaps meant "are," as in Luke ( Luke 5:20 ). For it is not a command to his sins to depart, but an authoritative proclamation of the man's pardoned state as a believer. And yet, as the Pharisees understood our Lord to be dispensing pardon by this saying, and Jesus not only acknowledges that they were right, but founds His whole argument upon the correctness of it, we must regard the saying as a royal proclamation of the man's forgiveness by Him to whom it belonged to dispense it; nor could such a style of address be justified on any lower supposition.
6. But there were certain of the scribes--"and the Pharisees" ( Luke 5:21 )
sitting there--those Jewish ecclesiastics who, as Luke told us ( Luke 5:17 ), "were come out of every village of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem," to make their observations upon this wonderful Person, in anything but a teachable spirit, though as yet their venomous and murderous feeling had not showed itself.
and reasoning in their hearts.
7. Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?--In this second question they expressed a great truth. (See Isaiah 43:25 , Micah 7:18 , Exodus 34:6 Exodus 34:7 , &c.). Nor was their first question altogether unnatural, though in our Lord's sole case it was unfounded. That a man, to all appearances like one of themselves, should claim authority and power to forgive sins, they could not, on the first blush of it, but regard as in the last degree startling; nor were they entitled even to weigh such a claim, as worthy of a hearing, save on supposition of resistless evidence afforded by Him in support of the claim. Accordingly, our Lord deals with them as men entitled to such evidence, and supplies it; at the same time chiding them for rashness, in drawing harsh conclusions regarding Himself.
8. Why reason ye these things in your hearts--or, as in Matthew, ( Matthew 9:4 ) "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?"
9. Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee--or "are forgiven thee";
or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed and walk?--"Is it easier to command away disease than to bid away sin? If, then, I do the one which you can see, know thus that I have done the other, which you cannot see."
10. But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins--that forgiving power dwells in the Person of this Man, and is exercised by Him while on this earth and going out and in with you.
(he saith to the sick of the palsy),
11. I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house--This taking up the portable couch, and walking home with it, was designed to prove the completeness of the cure.
12. And immediately he arose, took up the bed--"Sweet saying!" says BENGEL: "The bed had borne the man: now the man bore the bed."
and went forth before them all--proclaiming by that act to the multitude, whose wondering eyes would follow him as he pressed through them, that He who could work such a glorious miracle of healing, must indeed "have power on earth to forgive sins."
We never saw it on this fashion--"never saw it thus," or, as we say, "never saw the like." In Luke ( Luke 5:26 ) it is, "We have seen strange [unexpected] things to-day"--referring both to the miracles wrought and the forgiveness of sins pronounced by Human Lips. In Matthew ( Matthew 9:8 ) it is, "They marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men." At forgiving power they wondered not, but that a man, to all appearance like one of themselves, should possess it!
Mark 2:13-17 . LEVI'S (OR MATTHEW'S) CALL AND FEAST. ( = Matthew 9:9-13 Luke 5:27-32 ).
Mark 2:18-22 . DISCOURSE ON FASTING. ( = Matthew 9:14-17 Luke 5:33-39 ).
Mark 2:23-28 . PLUCKING CORN-EARS ON THE SABBATH DAY. ( = Matthew 12:1-8 , Luke 6:1-5 ).