Sundays on Mark 3

Continuing our simple Sunday reflections on Mark’s Gospel

This week 2:1-17

Mark gives a rough chronology of Jesus’ Galilee preaching tour. It is a ‘few days later’ when he comes ‘home’. Capernaum is a base for this wider ministry of preaching the word – specifically the message of the kingdom of God.

The famous story of the healing of the paralytic remains remarkable – for its dramatic sense, visual imagery and emotional impact. The story is told from an eyewitness perspective. The teachers of the Law with front row ‘seats’ sitting before Jesus who knows their thoughts. Jesus speaks, for the first time referring to himself with the exclusive self-designation – the Son of Man. This Son of Man has authority to heal AND forgive.

The healing again focuses attention of the identity of the healer who so deliberately and provocatively does only what YHWH should do AND on the liberating nature of the kingdom of God which brings physical and spiritual healing. Here is the holistic gospel of no merely human Messiah. His listeners know only too well the outrageous claim to divine identity that Jesus has just made. Mark, as other NT writers do, includes Jesus in this divine identity without compromising his monotheism.

This radically inclusive good news of the kingdom speaks right into the divided world of 1st cent Palestine under Roman rule – and into the equally divided world of the 21st Century. Jesus seeks out Levi the local tax collector sitting in his toll booth, a man hated by his own and an expendable pawn to his masters.The gospel of the kingdom is for the helpless and the quisling. Grace leads to fellowship and feasting. Such acceptance is deeply, profoundly and emotionally offensive to the ‘healthy’. It is also deeply, profoundly and emotionally wonderful good news to ‘sick’.

PRAYER: We praise you O Lord as one who demonstrates your love for the outcast and the needy; who brings liberation to the whole person and calls your people to do the same. Help us, through your Spirit, to not only speak good news but be good news. Amen.

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