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Mark  ◦   Chapter 2

1Several days later, Jesus returned to his home base in Capernaum, and word quickly spread that he was back.2Huge crowds packed the place, so there was not even standing room left outside in the courtyard as Jesus taught them the truth.3Four men carried a paralyzed man, attempting to bring him to Jesus.4But when they couldn't get through the crowd to reach Jesus, they climbed up on the roof, opened a hole in the roof and lowered the stretcher with the paralyzed man on it down in front of Jesus.5When Jesus saw their confidence and trust in him, he looked at the paralytic and said, "Son, your sin is abolished and removed."

6When the church leaders who promoted a legal theology heard this, they thought to themselves,7"Who does he think he is? What does he think he is doing? It's easy to say 'your sin is removed,' but only God can remove sin. He's blaspheming!"

8Jesus knew that their hearts were afraid and that they were confused in their thinking because of their legal theology, so he said to them: "Why are you thinking such judgmental thoughts?9Which is easier to say to the paralyzed man: 'Your sin is abolished and removed,' or 'Stand up, pick up your stretcher and walk'?10Just so you will know for certain that the Son of Man has authority on earth to abolish and remove sin..." Jesus paused, looked at the paralyzed man, and continued,11"Do as I say: stand up, pick up your stretcher and walk home."12Instantly the man was healed. He stood up, picked up his stretcher and walked out in front of the entire crowd. Everyone was absolutely awed and they shouted praises to God, proclaiming, "We have never seen such clear revelations of God's healing love!"

13Later on, Jesus went back to the lakeshore. As was becoming the norm, a large crowd gathered around him. He began teaching them the truth of God's kingdom of love.14As he walked along, he came to Levi, the son of Alphaeus, manning the tax collector's station. Jesus looked at him and said, "Come and join me, and be one of my disciples." Levi jumped up and instantly followed him.

15Later on, Jesus and his disciples were dining at Levi's home together with many tax collectors and others, whom the religious leaders considered to be "sinners." (There were quite of few of these "sinners" who followed him.)16When the theologians, who taught a legal religion, and the Pharisees, who focused on external behavior, saw with whom Jesus was eating, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

17Jesus heard what they said and replied, "Those who believe they are healthy don't go to the doctor; only the sick do. I cannot help those who believe they are already right with God, but only those who know they are sick with sin."

18The disciples of John and the Pharisees were fasting. When they noticed that Jesus' disciples were not fasting, they came to Jesus and asked, "Why is it that John's disciples and the theology professors and students from the school of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?"

19Jesus smiled and said, "People at a wedding reception don't fast. As long as the bride and groom are together, they feast.20But when the groom is separated from his bride, then they will fast.

21"An old system, filled with inconsistencies, is like an old, worn-out garment full of holes. One cannot fix the old garment with new cloth: if one does, the new piece will tear the old apart. Likewise, the truth of God's kingdom I bring cannot be merged into the inconsistent legal system you have created: trying to do so will tear the old system apart.22It is also like pouring new, unfermented wine into old, dried out wineskins: if one does, the new wine will burst the old skin. Likewise, trying to squeeze the truth I bring into the rigid legal theology you practice will fail. You must have new wineskins for the new wine, and a new heart for the truth I bring."

23Jesus and his disciples were walking through a field of grain one Sabbath, when the disciples began to pulls some of the heads of grain to eat.24The Pharisees — those theology professors who teach a legal religion — protested to Jesus: "Look at what your disciples are doing! Why are they breaking the law and working on the Sabbath?"

25Jesus answered, "Don't you know the truth of God's kingdom and methods as taught in Scripture? Remember what David and his companions did when they were hungry and without food?26When Abiathar was high priest, David entered the sanctuary and ate the holy bread, which only the priests could lawfully eat. And he gave some to his companions as well."

27After giving them a moment to think, he said, "The Sabbath was created as a gift for humanity — to be a blessing for human beings. Human beings were not created as a gift for the Sabbath.28Understand this clearly: the Son of Man doesn't serve the Sabbath; the Sabbath serves him."