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Bible Commentaries
Mark 2

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Verses 1-12


Matthew 9:2-8 ; Mark 2:1-12 ; & Luke 5:17-26 . Mark: “And again He came into Capernaum during those days, and it was heard that He is at home. And immediately the multitudes came together, so that there was no room, not even at the door; and He continued to speak the word to them.” Luke says: “The Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come out of every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting around.” In that day they had no newspapers, steam-engines, telegraphs, nor telephones, the news only going on the back of a camel, a fleet horse, or a swift pedestrian; yet, to our inextricable puzzle, the tidings flew everywhere with astounding velocity, notifying the people, as here Luke says, not only in the cities, but all the villages, that Jesus has come back from His retirement Into Capernaum, His headquarters, and is again preaching to the multitudes, healing the sick and casting out demons.

“They come to Him, carrying a paralyzed man, borne by four. Not being able to reach Him, on account of the crowd, they took up the roof where He was, and lifting it out, let down the bed on which the paralyzed man was lying down.” Luke says: “Mounting up on top of the house, they let him down through the tiles, along with the bed, in the midst, in the presence of Jesus.” The houses in that country have flat roofs, covered with stone, with stairways ascending up, and tiling arranged for removal at their option, when they wish to go out on the roof. The first time I ever entered Jerusalem, my guide escorted me through a lofty mansion by internal stairways, leading up through the roof, giving me a grand view of the city, which was impossible from the streets. As there is no doubt but this was Peter's house in Capernaum, and the home of Jesus, the presumption is, it was not very high, the multitude being outside. These importunate friends of the paralytic, pressing their way through the crowd, use a ladder to climb the house from the outside, reaching the solid stone roof, cemented together so that it looked like a single great limestone rock covering the house, as I have so often seen and walked over them; coming to this movable door, take up the tiles, and let the man down, lying on his bed, lowering him to the very presence of Jesus, in the midst of His sermon.

“And Jesus, seeing their faith, says to the paralytic, Child, thy sins are forgiven.” Here we have a wonderful demonstration of prevailing faith.

There is no doubt but the paralytic had faith in Jesus to heal him, as these four friends, all round him during the long journey while carrying him on his bed, heaving like volcanoes, had inundated him with an atmosphere red- hot and electrified with indefatigable faith, so that, if he didn't have it before, he certainly had imbibed it from his company by the time he reached the feet of Jesus; yet we have no allusion whatever to the faith of the patient, but it is unequivocally certified that the healing resulted from the faith of his four friends, who certainly abundantly proved their faith by their works in thus bringing him to the presence of Jesus, despite every conceivable difficulty. O that the perishing myriads all round us could only have friends enough to carry them to Jesus on the pinions of a faith that will take no denial! What a transcendent inspiration to all Christian workers, this notable case, where Jesus healed the man responsive to the faith of his friends!

Luke 5:21 . “And the scribes and Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this One who speaketh blasphemies? Who is able to forgive sins except God alone? And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, responding, said to them, Why do you reason in your hearts? Why is it easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven, than to say, Arise and walk? But in order that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralyzed man, I say unto thee, Arise, and taking up thy bed, go to thy home. And immediately arising in presence of them, taking up that on which he was lying down, he departed to his own home, glorifying God. And ecstasy seized all, and they continued to glorify God; and they were filled with fear, saying, That we have seen paradoxical things this day.” While the Jewish Church was awfully unspiritual, and the preachers, as a rule, without an experimental knowledge of God, they held pertinaciously to the cardinal truths of the Bible, one of which here very lucidly crops out; i.e., that none but God can forgive sins. Many modern Churches, who are depending on priestly absolution, water baptism, sacraments, and good works, to take away their sins, would do well to heed this fundamental truth, here enunciated by the fallen clergy of apostate Judaism; i.e., that none but God alone can forgive sins. Therefore we must all pass by our own works, Church rites, water baptism, clerical intercession, and everything else, and go to God alone, on our knees, and stay till He, for Christ's sake, forgives all our sins, and witnesses to the same by His blessed Holy Spirit. In this case, Jesus avails Himself of the smaller work i.e., bodily healing which was visible to mortal eyes, and incontestably demonstrated by the uprising of the patient, and the carrying of his bed away to his home, in order to illustrate the greater work i.e., the forgiving of his sins which either directly or indirectly had brought on him the paralysis, which is not hereditary, like leprosy, which typifies inbred sin; and consequently, as it originates from violation of the hygienical laws, represents actual sins, which must be removed by pardon, while original sin can only be expurgated by the cleansing blood of Jesus and the refining fire of the Holy Ghost. It is highly probable that this paralytic was a very bad case, of long standing, and extensively known by those people. Hence, his sudden and perfect healing, so clearly demonstrated, produced an intense excitement, not only filling the people with delight to see the mighty work, but Overawing them with profoundest reverence in the realization of the Divine presence.

Verses 13-14


Matthew 20:9 ; Mark 2:13-14 ; & Luke 5:27-28 . Mark: “And He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He continued to teach them. And passing along He saw Levi, the son of Alpheus, sitting at the toll; and He says to Him, Follow Me. And rising, he followed Him.” Luke: “And leaving all things, rising, he followed Him.” Matthew: “Jesus, going on from thence, saw a man sitting at the toll called Matthew, and says to him, Follow Me, and rising up, he followed Him.” This took place in the city of Capernaum, the home of Jesus, Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew, who is also called Levi. Here we have the very brief account of the conversion and call to the apostleship of Matthew, one of the writers of our Lord's Gospel. He and John were apostles among the original Twelve, Mark serving as Peter's amanuensis and Luke that of Paul. Matthew's conversion, here so briefly given, is quite remarkable. He is not only in the bloom of youth, bat the incumbent of a lucrative office. He is no poor man, but he is rich, living in affluence, with the broadest possibilities of worldly aggrandizement spread out before him. He suddenly and unhesitatingly leaves all for a life of toil, poverty, and persecution, and a cruel death to wind up. Suddenly converted, we never afterward hear of his wavering. In the distribution of the world among the apostles, pursuant to the Commission, receiving Ethiopia as his field of labor, he faithfully went, and preached heroically till he sealed his faith with his blood, and flew up to join his Master in celestial glory.

We have now followed our Lord through the first year of His ministry, all of which He spent in Galilee, His home and favorite field, except about two months at the beginning. The Feast of the Passover, instituted and perpetuated to commemorate the Divine mercy shown to Israel the last night of their sojourn in Egypt, when the destroying angel came down and slew the firstborn in every house in all the land, but in mercy passing over the houses of Israel besprinkled with the blood of the slain lamb, symbolic of the “Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” Our Savior gave special attention and peculiar honor to this institution, beginning His ministry at a Passover, and winding it up at another three years subsequently, two Passovers intervening in the interim. Now, the first year of His ministry having passed away, the fame of His mighty works having filled Palestine and mightily stirred the Gentile world, till all eyes are turned toward Him, most momentous inquiries are everywhere ringing from the popular lip, “Is not this the Shiloh of prophecy, the Christ of God, the Savior of the world, and the Redeemer of Israel? If He is not truly the Messiah who is to come, He is certainly the greatest prophet whom God has ever given to Israel.”

Verses 15-22



Matthew 10:1-17 ; Mark 2:15-22 ; Luke 5:29-39 . Luke “And Levi made a great feast for Him in his own house; and there was a great multitude of publicans and others who were sitting with them. And the scribes and Pharisees were murmuring to His disciples, saying, Why do you eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus, responding, said to them, They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Levi is a name of Matthew, the author of the first Gospel. He was a rich Jew, holding the office of publican i.e., collector of the Roman revenue living at Capernaum. Jesus passed by one day, spoke to him, and said, “Follow Me.” Unhesitatingly leaving all, he becomes a disciple of our Lord, and was afterward promoted to the apostleship. The publicans, as a rule, were proverbial for wickedness, dishonesty, and popular odium, as the Jews loathed the Roman Government, whose financial officers they were. We see how dearly Matthew loved his unsaved companions. Consequently he makes a great feast, and compliments them with an invitation, at the same time inviting Jesus and His disciples, hoping by this costly festival to bring them under the influence of the sinner’s Savior; thus giving us all an example we would do well to appreciate, also answering the hackneyed question, “How shall we reach the masses?” Give them a kind invitation, like Matthew, to come to a feast especially prepared for them in your own house, meanwhile you do your utmost, by prayer and timely conversation, to win them for God and heaven. We observe the same phenomenon this day which confronted Jesus and His disciples, thus intimately associated with the publicans and sinners at Matthew’s feast; i.e., the scribes ( i.e., the pastors) and Pharisees ( i.e., the influential and official members of the popular Churches) rejecting, contemptuously, drunkards, harlots, and other notorious reprobates, especially if they have no money. Matthew says: “Going, learn what this is, I wish mercy and not sacrifice. For I came, not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” What does our Lord mean by mercy and not sacrifice? When you are utterly destitute, bankrupt, and broken-hearted, there is a wide, open door for Jesus to come in. With this He is delighted. So long as you realize your own possessions, you bank on them, and expect to win Divine favor by your contributions. In this way million’s plunge into hell. God is not poor. He does not need your money, nor anything else you have. He wants you, and not your possessions. Jesus wants immortal intelligence to glorify Him through all eternity.


Mark 2:18 . “And the disciples of John and Jesus were fasting. And they come and say to Him, Wherefore do the disciples of John and the Pharisees, and Thy disciples do not fast?” Fasting, in both dispensations, is not only a concomitant, but an auxiliary of prevailing prayer. Elijah, Moses, and Jesus all fasted forty days, Divinely kept in a spiritual rapture, the physical organism abiding in status quo. The disciples of Jesus, during His personal appearance, were an exception to this general rule, because of its disharmony with the power, the glory, and the infinite and extraordinary privilege peculiar to the immediate companions of the Omnipotent Savior; as fasting has a melancholy and lugubrious influence upon its votaries somewhat incompatible with that paradisiacal felicity characteristic of the Divine presence.


“And Jesus said to them, Whether are the sons of the bride’s chamber able to fast as long as the bridegroom is with them? So long a time as they have the bridegroom with them they are not able to fast.” The sons of the bride’s chamber here mentioned as the men who have charge and are commissioned to the work of preparing the chamber in the house of the bridegroom for him to bring the bride into his own home; i.e., the great work of getting the bride ready and the bride chamber in order for the coming of the Bridegroom when He will take the bride to His heavenly home. We are betrothed to Christ in regeneration, and married to Him in sanctification. Jesus makes the application to His own disciples, and especially the twelve apostles, who were then laboring in the evangelistic field, destined soon to broaden out and encompass the whole world; thus calling out the bride from every nation under heaven, getting her sanctified, robed, and ready to meet the Bridegroom. Hence, God’s holy people, preaching the gospel of full salvation to the ends of the earth, “are the sons of the bride chamber,” faithfully laboring to get the bride ready for the Coming of the Bridegroom. Our Lord here fully settles the problem in reference to the expediency of fasting in our dispensation, when He states “And the days will come when the Bridegroom must be taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.” Hence you see from this Scripture the pertinence of fasting ever since our Lord ascended into heaven. In His presence there was too much sunshine and glory for His disciples to fast. Since His departure, the widowed Church has not ceased to fast and pray for the return of our Lord.


Luke 5:36 . “And He spoke a parable to them, That no one putteth a piece of new garment on an old garment; as in that case the new tears it, and the piece which was from the new does not harmonize with the old. No one puts new wine into old bottles; as in that case the new wine will burst the bottles, and it will be poured out, and the bottles will perish; but the new wine is to be put into new bottles, and both will be preserved.” Every conceivable entity has both an exterior and an interior, which are equally indispensable to its existence. In the lucid and diversified symbolism of the gracious economy we have the most beautiful and perfect elucidation of both of these hemispheres, constituting the grand globe of full salvation. The new patch sewed on the old, thread-bare garment is too heavy and strong. It tears out all the fabric with which it is connected, making the hole several times its former size, and if repeated would actually tear the old garment all to pieces. What are we to do in this case? Let the old garment wear out, and never patch it. Oh! so our Lord has something better for us than the old tagged garment, and wants to take us out of the patching business altogether. He has for us the “best robe,” snowy white, washed in the blood of the Lamb, which will never get old and never wear out. Counterfeit religions are always patching up an old experience. Be sure you get this royal robe, which the King of glory furnishes His faithful bride without money and without price, which will never get old, nor wear out, nor need patching, but will shine with ever-brightening splendor through the flight of eternal ages. The garment represents the exterior of a Christian character, while the wine and the bottle typify the interior. You must keep your mind off the glass bottles of modern times, and contemplate the leather bottles, the only kind in use in the days of our Savior. It is wonderful how the Orientals never change, but perpetuate the customs and institutions of the Bible times. On the streets of Jerusalem, Hebron, Joppa, and all Palestinian cities, we constantly see the water- carriers bending under a whole goat-skin, full of water, thus carrying it from the fountain to supply the various demands. The fermentation of new wine, Increasing its bulk will break the old leather bottle, which is not strong enough thus to endure the pressure. While, of course, these strong metaphors illustrate the fact that Christianity is not simply a patch on Judaism, or some new wine poured into the old Mosaic bottles, but a de novo institution, such an interpretation merely reaches the surface, leaving the grand interior unexplored. The bottle is the heart. In a genuine conversion, God gives you a new heart. (Ezekiel 36:26) God’s work, like Himself, never gets old. Hence the bottle He gives you is always new. Wine symbolizes the Holy Ghost, whom you receive as an indwelling Comforter in sanctification; of course, He can never get old. Therefore you see, with a true regeneration, you get the new bottle, which will never get old; while in the genuine. sanctification, you receive the new wine of the kingdom, which will never ferment nor get old. Hence, you should have nothing to do with the old bottles of a backslidden experience, nor the old wine of a counterfeit sanctification. The reason why the dead, worldly Churches are so timorous of sanctification preached in their pulpits, is because they are afraid the new wine will burst up their old bottles. But that is just what ought to be done. The bottle which the new wine will burst is of no account. The Lord’s genuine new bottles are elastic enough to hold a hundred-fold without detriment. The very thing we need in the fallen Churches is a glorious, Holy Ghost revival, whose first work is the bursting up of all those old bottles, and tearing up their old garments, thus showing them their need of the new. Then what a glorious time for all of us, when they all get new robes, bright and beautiful; new bottles, and all filled with the delicious, sweet, new wine, bright as ever sparkled from the grapes of Eshcol!

“And no one drinking the old immediately wishes the new; for He says, The old is better.” How is this? We find it universally illustrated. The heathens constantly meet our missionaries with the response, “Your religion suits you; but ours is ‘better’ for us.” Roman Catholic hears a Pentecostal sermon, but turning away, says his dead formality and priestcraft are “better.” As Luke says, he does not “immediately desire the new, but says the old is better.” Go into a dead, formal Church anywhere, and preach the living power of full salvation, and the people at first get angry, become sullen, and say their old religion “is better.” Go ahead, wait on the Lord, till these people get pungently convicted, and they will change their mind and want the “new.” Now remember, Jesus does not say “the old is better,” but that dead professor says it, and he is mistaken; for he soon changes his mind, when conviction strikes him like lightning, and takes it all back, turns round, seeks and finds the new bottle i.e., the new heart and never stops till he gets it filled with the new wine ( i.e., the Holy Ghost), in the rich and glorious experience of entire sanctification.

Verses 23-28



Matthew 12:1-18 ; Mark 2:23-28 , and Luke 6:1-5 . We find that our Lord spent but two weeks at Jerusalem during this tour, preaching and working miracles all the time, of which we have no record; but the fifth chapter of John giving us one notable miracle and one powerful sermon. Luke informs us that the incident, here recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, took place on the Sabbath following the Passover, which began on the Sabbath, ran through the intervening week, and closed on the ensuing Sabbath; thus, according to Luke's testimony, giving our Savior two-weeks' evangelistic tour in Jerusalem. Inquiry naturally rises why He returns to Galilee so soon, when He had spent about ten months of the preceding year in that country. Our Lord gives the reason (John 4:44). Jerusalem and Judea were the regions of great population, while Galilee was the more thinly settled. Again, as He was a native Galilean, His ministry would not attract the amount of popular attention there as at Jerusalem, and especially on occasions of the great festivals, thus augmenting the probability of their cutting short His ministry by crowning Him King. Therefore He did most of His preaching and performed most of His mighty works in the comparatively thinly populated regions of Galilee.

Mark: “And it came to pass that He was journeying on the Sabbath, through the corn-fields, and His disciples began to pursue the journey, plucking the ears [i.e., the wheat-heads]. And the Pharisees continued to say to Him, Behold what they are doing on the Sabbath, which is not lawful. And He said to them, Have you not read what David did when he had need, and he and those who were with him were hungry? How he entered into the house of God, in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which it is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and he gave it to those who were with him? And He said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” Matthew: “Have you not read in the law that the priests on the Sabbath in the 'temple do profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? But I

say unto you, There is One here greater than the temple. If you had known what that is, I wish mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent.” Matthew, Mark, and Luke all relate this incident, which transpired on the Sabbath following the Passover, while our Lord and His disciples were prosecuting their pedestrian journey back to Galilee. Remember that we are now in the beginning of the second year of our Savior's ministry, two more years and two Passovers yet to come. We see our Lord's critics raise no objection to their plucking the wheat-heads, rubbing them out in their hands and eating them (it is more probable it was barley, as this occurred about the first of May, the beginning of the barley harvest, the wheat coming on about a month later), as this privilege was granted in the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 21:2); but they arraign Him for violating the Sabbath, as this happened to take place on that day, showing how very fanatical they were, that they wouldn't allow them to get a little something to eat on the Sabbath. Excessive zeal on non- essentials has characterized the fallen Churches of every age. At this point they murdered the martyrs, too blind to see their holy lives, and actually massacring them because they did not conform to the non-essential human regulations of a fallen ecclesiasticism. Our Savior here gives them the case of the priests, who offer the sacrifices, and work hard in the temple on the Sabbath, and are blameless. He also corroborates it by the case of David (1 Samuel 21:1-7), who, in his flight from Saul, came to Nob, in the days of Abiathar, the priest, he and his men, in their extremity and destitution, eating the shewbread in the temple, which was lawful only for the priests to eat. “I wish mercy and not sacrifice” is the key to this entire problem. God wants a broken heart and a contrite spirit, a penitent soul, on whom He can have mercy, free and unlimited i.e., save him for nothing, except the vicarious work of Christ instead of a great sacrifice, offered in pomp and demonstration by some rich person, whose heart is far from Him, vainly flattering himself that he can pay his way to heaven. In this way millions of wealthy Church members make their bed in hell, depending on their offerings to the Lord, instead of falling, a miserable, bankrupt suppliant, at the feet of Jesus, and there crying for mercy till the heavens bow, and God comes down and answers the prayer of the broken-hearted penitent in the mighty uplift of His omnipotent hand.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Mark 2". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/mark-2.html.
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