The Healing of a Paralytic. 1* When Jesus returned to Capernauma after some days, it became known that he was at home.* 2Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. 3They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. 5* When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” 6* Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, 7“Why does this man speak that way?* He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?”b 8Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? 9Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? 10* But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”— 11he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” 12He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”
The Call of Levi. 13* c Once again he went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. 14d As he passed by,* he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. 15While he was at table in his house,* many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. 16* Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17Jesus heard this and said to them [that], “Those who are well do not need a physician,* but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
The Question About Fasting.* 18The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.e People came to him and objected, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast* while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. 21No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. 22Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”
The Disciples and the Sabbath.* 23As he was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.f 24At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”g 25He said to them, “Have you never read what David did* when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? 26How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?”h 27Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man,* not man for the sabbath.i 28* That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
* [2:1–3:6] This section relates a series of conflicts between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees in which the growing opposition of the latter leads to their plot to put Jesus to death (Mk 3:6).
* [2:1–2] He was at home: to the crowds that gathered in and outside the house Jesus preached the word, i.e., the gospel concerning the nearness of the kingdom and the necessity of repentance and faith (Mk 1:14).
* [2:5] It was the faith of the paralytic and those who carried him that moved Jesus to heal the sick man. Accounts of other miracles of Jesus reveal more and more his emphasis on faith as the requisite for exercising his healing powers (Mk 5:34; 9:23–24; 10:52).
* [2:6] Scribes: trained in oral interpretation of the written law; in Mark’s gospel, adversaries of Jesus, with one exception (Mk 12:28, 34).
* [2:7] He is blaspheming: an accusation made here and repeated during the trial of Jesus (Mk 14:60–64).
* [2:10] But that you may know that the Son of Man…on earth: although Mk 2:8–9 are addressed to the scribes, the sudden interruption of thought and structure in Mk 2:10 seems not addressed to them nor to the paralytic. Moreover, the early public use of the designation “Son of Man” to unbelieving scribes is most unlikely. The most probable explanation is that Mark’s insertion of Mk 2:10 is a commentary addressed to Christians for whom he recalls this miracle and who already accept in faith that Jesus is Messiah and Son of God.
* [2:13] He taught them: see note on Mk 1:21–45.
* [2:14] As he passed by: see note on Mk 1:16–20. Levi, son of Alphaeus: see note on Mt 9:9. Customs post: such tax collectors paid a fixed sum for the right to collect customs duties within their districts. Since whatever they could collect above this amount constituted their profit, the abuse of extortion was widespread among them. Hence, Jewish customs officials were regarded as sinners (Mk 2:16), outcasts of society, and disgraced along with their families. He got up and followed him: i.e., became a disciple of Jesus.
* [2:15] In his house: cf. Mk 2:1; Mt 9:10. Lk 5:29 clearly calls it Levi’s house.
* [2:16–17] This and the following conflict stories reflect a similar pattern: a statement of fact, a question of protest, and a reply by Jesus.
* [2:17] Do not need a physician: this maxim of Jesus with its implied irony was uttered to silence his adversaries who objected that he ate with tax collectors and sinners (Mk 2:16). Because the scribes and Pharisees were self-righteous, they were not capable of responding to Jesus’ call to repentance and faith in the gospel.
* [2:18–22] This conflict over the question of fasting has the same pattern as Mk 2:16–17; see notes on Mt 9:15; 9:16–17.
* [2:19] Can the wedding guests fast?: the bridal metaphor expresses a new relationship of love between God and his people in the person and mission of Jesus to his disciples. It is the inauguration of the new and joyful messianic time of fulfillment and the passing of the old. Any attempt at assimilating the Pharisaic practice of fasting, or of extending the preparatory discipline of John’s disciples beyond the arrival of the bridegroom, would be as futile as sewing a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak or pouring new wine into old wineskins with the resulting destruction of both cloth and wine (Mk 2:21–22). Fasting is rendered superfluous during the earthly ministry of Jesus; cf. Mk 2:20.
* [2:23–28] This conflict regarding the sabbath follows the same pattern as in Mk 2:18–22.
* [2:25–26] Have you never read what David did?: Jesus defends the action of his disciples on the basis of 1 Sm 21:2–7 in which an exception is made to the regulation of Lv 24:9 because of the extreme hunger of David and his men. According to 1 Samuel, the priest who gave the bread to David was Ahimelech, father of Abiathar.
* [2:27] The sabbath was made for man: a reaffirmation of the divine intent of the sabbath to benefit Israel as contrasted with the restrictive Pharisaic tradition added to the law.
* [2:28] The Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath: Mark’s comment on the theological meaning of the incident is to benefit his Christian readers; see note on Mk 2:10.
a. [2:1–12] Mt 9:2–8; Lk 5:18–26.
d. [2:14–17] Mt 9:9–13; Lk 5:27–32.
e. [2:18–22] Mt 9:14–17; Lk 5:33–39.
f. [2:23–28] Mt 12:1–8; Lk 6:1–5.
h. [2:26] 1 Sm 21:2–7; Lv 24:5–9.