31 January 2008

Mark 2-3 and Questions

All through Mark 2 and into chapter 3 Jesus is barraged with questions from doubters, and it's interesting to note that all but one time he himself responds with a question.

2:1-12 - Jesus heals the paralytic lowered through the roof and declares his sins forgiven.
Scribes: "Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
Jesus: "Why do you question these things in your heart? Which is easier...?"

2:13-17 - Jesus eats with sinners and tax collectors.
Scribes: "Why does he eat with sinners?"
(Jesus: here a statement: "It's the sick who need a doctor, not the healthy.")

2:18-22 - Jesus' disciples are conspicuously not fasting.
People: "Who do John's disciples and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don't?"
Jesus: "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?"

2:23-27 - Jesus' disciples pluck grain in a field on the sabbath.
Pharisees: "Why are they doing what isn't lawful on the sabbath?"
Jesus: "Have you never read what David did...?"

3:1-6 - Jesus enters the synagogue and heals a man with a withered hand on the sabbath.
This time Jesus initiates the question, noticing that "they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him" (3:2).
Jesus: "Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?"
Doubters: "But they were silent" (3:4).

What do you make of this? This seems to be climactic in some way because it is finally at this point that "the Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him" (3:6).

Jesus always had a response, and almost always seems to have put the ball back in the court of his interlocuters, implying that it was they who needed to answer and give an account, not Jesus. Jesus always had a response; the doubters did not.

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