B.ii 2:1–3:6 Second Capernaum visit


Jesus returns to Capernaum and heals the paralytic lowered through the roof (faith in forgiveness of sins). Opposition begins. Mission is to the needy, shown by Levi. Nature of kingdom explored: bridegroom, wineskins, lord of the Sabbath (providing; healing).


A. 1:1–13 Preparation

B. 1:14–3:6 Ministry in Galilee

B.i 1:14–1:45 First Capernaum visit
B.ii 2:1–3:6 Second Capernaum visit

Jesus comes back to Peter's hometown, but this time the crowds are bigger and the opposition has begun to form. Also, he publicly relates his healing to his teaching as a sign of its truth. There is blindness to his ministry though, even though healing should show he is the king. Jesus' ministry is to the needy, illustrated by Levi. The people do not understand Jesus' identity (bridegroom, new wineskins). Jesus challenges the Sabbath understanding by appealing to David's example, and relates his ministry to the OT law. In the synagogue, he again affirms the provision of the law by healing the cripple. Jesus withdraws from the region now the plots are intensifying.

Things to talk about

1:15 What does Jesus' eating with Levi mean for his status as a physician?
1:17 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners. How does this summarise everything that has happened so far? His identity is in a mission of calling.
1:18 Before, we saw John's ministry as the pattern for Jesus', but here there is a contrast. What is different about them?
2:23–3:6 Who is Jesus that he can re-fashion the understanding of the law like this and fix it where it failed? The man was not healed until Jesus came along, so patching a law cannot work. If you think things will work out OK for you, would there be anything in 3:1–6 to challenge that worldview (system of thought and action) as an observer?

Helpful points

2:14 Levi's Greek name is Matthew, the gospel writer.
2:20 Same verb as Is. 53:8.
2:26 Abiathar The subject of a famous controversy. This is a common proof-verse for contradictions in the gospels, because Ahimelech, Abiathar's father, seems to have been the high priest at the time (I Sam. 21–22). Many explanations have been offered for exactly what Jesus is saying. The problem is not very hard, depending on how it is phrased. For some reason, I can't seem to find many simple explanations in print, but I would personally point out firstly that Jesus' word determines the form in which we receive the OT, as the OT we use is for us only useful so far as Jesus approves its use (which luckily he affirms at every step). Secondly, we can just say that Mark's grammar is a bit sloppy here. He is thinking of Abiathar as the high priest because that is what he is for most of his life, but is not suggesting he is the high priest at this point (so "in the time of Abiathar—the high priest" rather than "in the time of Abiathar-the-high-priest"). We do this often in English too ("Obama, the American president, was born on ..." even though he was not president at the time).
2:27 After defending himself to the attackers in 2:26, Mark adds a little bit of teaching from a separate occasion here. The law is there to bless, providing rest (and health in 3:4), and Jesus is announcing that he can fix what the law was not managing to do (read Rom. 6:7–12).
3:6 The Herodians and Pharisees were enemies.

Points for us

2:1–12 Learn some of these important verses.
2:22 This is the biggest pitfall for all of us! We try to return to the law. Let us rejoice in thanksgiving for grace for a few minutes now, and get tough with our legalism working (ultimately unsuccessfully) to destroy us.
3:1–6 Every worldview must provide an answer to the question 'How can I be saved?', or 'What happens for things to work out OK for me?'. Law condemns, and is at the heart of our sin, and that of others. Can we analyse our friends' thinking to understand bad law, not leading to Christ, in them? (The only good law is that which God gives for the blessing of his people by leading to Jesus, and so makes itself obsolete.)