Lent Daily Devotional: Mark 2

Reading: Mark 2
Thoughts by Sam Snyder

Mark 2 is the story of how Jesus did everything wrong. No, really. Stay with me.

The Jesus in Mark 2 is not a Jesus on the side of power. He’s not, as it were, a tame lion. Instead, to the horror of scribes and Pharisees, he eats with sinners and tax collectors, even calling one as a disciple; he forgives a man’s sins then heals him just to make a point; and he allows his disciples to work on the Sabbath. Every power structure, every law of pious society – turned upside down.

Jesus himself shows no remorse when challenged: “The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” “Son of Man”, originally a Hebrew idiom that simply meant “human”, gained in certain contexts a prophetic connotation, signifying something more than human. That understanding is vital for this passage; Jesus had come as both human and something more, and his very presence transformed the mundanity and pettiness of human-controlled law into something greater.

The story of Jesus in Mark 2 is the story of the work of God in microcosm. Jesus defies the law – and in so doing, recreates it. In naming himself “lord of the Sabbath”, he claims authority over law itself, and remakes it in his own image: that of a rabbi caring for his disciples, and of God himself at work among his people. In other words, these revolutionary acts of Jesus do not abolish the law, but rather instate Jesus himself as arbiter of the law, and as the lens through which the law must be viewed.