Monday, September 25, 2017

Mark 2: Criticism And Opposition

Well, that didn't take long!

Here we are, in only the second chapter of Mark, and we find Jesus as the target of criticism and complaint.  Opposition is already building to this prophet from Galilee, and it is coming from the religious establishment of scribes and Pharisees.  He is confounding them because he refuses to meet their expectations of what a holy person ought to be and do.

From Mark 2:1 to Mark 3:5, there are 5 reported instances of Jesus coming under attack for his words and actions:

Mark 2:1-12: BLASPHEMY.  Jesus proclaims a paralyzed man's sins to be forgiven.  The scribes of the Pharisees object (silently) to this blasphemy because forgiveness of sins is reserved for God alone.  Yet Jesus proves he can back up his words of spiritual healing by the act of physical healing as well.

Mark 2:13-17: ASSOCIATING WITH SINNERS.  Many of us love the fact that Jesus calls sinners into relationship with him.  Yet some have a problem with Jesus "rubbing shoulders" with those who aren't cleaned up yet.  Should a holy man associate with sinners?  How else are they to learn about God's grace and the call to repentance?

Mark 2:18-22: IMPIETY.  Shouldn't a prophet abstain from all worldly pleasures and goods?  Why doesn't Jesus go about with a long face and fasting like the holy scribes and even the disciples of John the Baptist?  Jesus explains that it isn't the time for fasting.  His ministry is a season of joy; there will come a time later when fasting is appropriate.

Mark 2:23-28: HARVESTING ON THE SABBATH.  Judaism is a religion of law, and none of the laws are as detailed or complex as the Sabbath laws.  Looking for an opportunity to accuse Jesus of wrongdoing, the Pharisees complain about his disciples picking grain and eating it as they walk through a field.  Jesus points out that the Sabbath is for man's enjoyment and enlightenment - not to be a rigid, undue burden.

Mark 3:1-6: HEALING ON THE SABBATH.  If you thought harvesting on the Sabbath was a no-no, consider how bent out of shape the Pharisees get about healing on the Sabbath!    Jesus' logic still applies: the Sabbath is a time for doing good, and even healing is appropriate.  But the Pharisees have had enough - at this point they go out and begin plotting and conspiring on how to put an end to this impertinent whippersnapper from Nazareth!

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