Mark 2:13
And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted to him, and he taught them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Mark

THE PUBLICANS’ FRIEND

Mark 2:13 - Mark 2:22
.

By calling a publican, Jesus shocked ‘public opinion and outraged propriety, as the Pharisees and scribes understood it. But He touched the hearts of the outcasts. A gush of sympathy melts souls frozen hard by icy winds of scorn. Levi {otherwise Matthew} had probably had wistful longings after Jesus which he had not dared to show, and therefore he eagerly and instantly responded to Christ’s call, leaving everything in his custom-house to look after itself. Mark emphasises the effect of this advance towards the disreputable classes by Jesus, in his repeated mention of the numbers of them who followed Him. The meal in Matthew’s house was probably not immediately after his call. The large gathering attracted the notice of Christ’s watchful opponents, who pounced upon His sitting at meat with such ‘shady’ people as betraying His low tastes and disregard of seemly conduct, and, with characteristic Eastern freedom, pushed in as uninvited spectators. They did not carry their objection to Himself, but covertly insinuated it into the disciples’ minds, perhaps in hope of sowing suspicions there. Their sarcasm evoked Christ’s own ‘programme’ of His mission, for which we have to thank them.

I. We have, first, Christ’s vindication of His consorting with the lowest.

He thinks of Himself as ‘a physician,’ just as He did in another connection in the synagogue of Nazareth. He is conscious of power to heal all soul-sickness, and therefore He goes where He is most needed. Where should a doctor be but where disease is rife? Is not his place in the hospital? Association with degraded and vicious characters is sin or duty, according to the purpose of it. To go down in the filth in order to wallow there is vile; to go down in order to lift others up is Christ’s mission and Christ-like.

But what does He mean by the distinction between sick and sound, righteous and sinners? Surely all need His healing, and there are not two classes of men. Have not all sinned? Yes, but Jesus speaks to the cavillers, for the moment, in their own dialect, saying, in effect, ‘I take you at your own valuation, and therein find My defence. You do not think that you need a physician, and you call yourselves ‘righteous and these outcasts ‘sinners.’ So you should not be surprised if I, being the healer, turn away to them, and prefer their company to yours.’ But there is more than taking them at their own estimate in the great words, for to conceit ourselves ‘whole’ bars us off from getting any good from Jesus. He cannot come to the self-righteous heart. We must feel our sickness before we can see Him in His true character, or be blessed by His presence with us. And the apparent distinction, which seems to limit His work, really vanishes in the fact that we all are sick and sinners, whatever we may think of ourselves, and that, therefore, the errand of the great Physician is to us all. The Pharisee who knows himself a sinner is as welcome as the outcast. The most outwardly respectable, clean-living, orthodoxly religious formalist needs Him as much, and may have Him as healingly, as the grossest criminal, foul with the stench of loathsome disease. That great saying has changed the attitude towards the degraded and unclean, and many a stream of pity and practical work for such has been drawn off from that Nile of yearning love, though all unconscious of its source.

II. We have Christ’s vindication of the disciples from ascetic critics.

The assailants in the second charge were reinforced by singular allies. Pharisees had nothing in common with John’s disciples, except some outward observances, but they could join forces against Jesus. Common hatred is a wonderful unifier. This time Jesus Himself is addressed, and it is the disciples with whom fault is found. To speak of His supposed faults to them, and of theirs to Him, was cunning and cowardly. His answer opens up many great truths, which we can barely mention.

First, note that He calls Himself the ‘bridegroom’-a designation which would surely touch some chords in John’s disciples, remembering how their Master had spoken of the ‘bridegroom’ and his ‘friend.’ The name tells us that Jesus claimed the psalms of the ‘bride-groom’ as prophecies of Himself, and claimed the Church that was to be as His bride. It speaks tenderly of His love and of our possible blessedness. Next, we note the sweet suggestion of the joyful life of the disciples in intercourse with Him. We perhaps do not sufficiently regard their experience in that light, but surely they were happy, being ever with Him, though they knew not yet all the wonder and blessedness which His presence involved and brought. They were a glad company, and Christians ought now to be joyous, because the bridegroom is still with them, and the more really so by reason of His ascending up where He was before. We have seen Him again, as He promised, and our hearts should rejoice with a joy which no man can take from us.

Next, we note Christ’s clear prevision of His death, the violence of which is hinted at in the words, ‘Shall be taken away from them.’ Further, we note the great principle that outward forms must follow inward realities, and are genuine only when they are the expression of states of mind and feeling. That is a far-reaching truth, ever being forgotten in the tyranny which the externals of religion exercise. Let the free spirit have its own way, and cut its own channels. Laughter may be as devout as fasting. Joy is to be expressed in religion as well as grief. No outward form is worth anything unless the inner man vitalises it, and such a mere form is not simply valueless, but may quickly become hypocrisy and conscious make-believe.

III. Jesus adds two similes, which are condensed parables, to deal with a wider question rising out of the preceding principles.

The difference between His disciples’ religious demeanour and that of their critics is not merely that the former are not now in a mood for fasting, but that a new spirit is beginning to work in them, and therefore it will go hard with a good many old forms besides fasting.

The essential point in both the similes of the raw cloth stitched on to the old, and of the new wine poured into stiff old skins, is the necessary incongruity between old forms and new tendencies. Undressed cloth is sure to shrink when wetted, and, being stronger than the old, to draw its frayed edges away. So, if new truth, or new conceptions of old truth, or new enthusiasms, are patched on to old modes, they will look out of place, and will sooner or later rend the old cloth. But the second simile advances on the first, in that it points not only to harm done to the old by the unnatural marriage, but also to mischief to the new. Put fermenting wine into a hard, unyielding, old wine-skin, and there can be but one result,-the strong effervescence will burst the skin, which may not matter much, and the precious wine will run out and be lost, sucked up by the thirsty soil, which matters more. The attempt to confine the new within the limits of the old, or to express it by the old forms, destroys them and wastes it. The attempt was made to keep Christianity within the limits of Judaism; it failed, but not before much harm had been done to Christianity. Over and over again the effort has been made in the Church, and it has always ended disastrously,-and it always will. It will be a happy day for both the old and the new when we all learn to put new wine into new skins, and remember that ‘God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body.’Mark 2:13-17. And all the multitude resorted unto him — Namely, by the sea-side. And he taught them — As readily there as if he had been in a synagogue. And as he passed by he saw Levi, that is, Matthew, sitting, &c. — See on Matthew 9:9-13. Many publicans and sinners sat with Jesus — Some of them, doubtless, invited by Matthew, moved with compassion for his old companions in sin. But the next words, For they were many, and they followed him, seem to imply that the greater part, encouraged by his gracious words and the tenderness of his behaviour, and impatient to hear more, stayed for no invitation, but pressed in after him, and kept as close to him as they could. And the scribes and the Pharisees said — So now the wise men, being joined by the saints of the world, went a little further in raising prejudices against our Lord. In his answer he uses, as yet, no harshness, but only calm, dispassionate reasoning. I came not to call the righteous — Therefore if these were righteous, I should not call them. But now they are the very persons I came to save.2:13-17 Matthew was not a good character, or else, being a Jew, he would never have been a publican, that is, a tax-gatherer for the Romans. However, Christ called this publican to follow him. With God, through Christ, there is mercy to pardon the greatest sins, and grace to change the greatest sinners, and make them holy. A faithful, fair-dealing publican was rare. And because the Jews had a particular hatred to an office which proved that they were subject to the Romans, they gave these tax-gatherers an ill name. But such as these our blessed Lord did not hesitate to converse with, when he appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh. And it is no new thing for that which is both well done and well designed, to be slandered, and turned to the reproach of the wisest and best of men. Christ would not withdraw, though the Pharisees were offended. If the world had been righteous, there had been no occasion for his coming, either to preach repentance, or to purchase forgiveness. We must not keep company with ungodly men out of love to their vain conversation; but we are to show love to their souls, remembering that our good Physician had the power of healing in himself, and was in no danger of taking the disease; but it is not so with us. In trying to do good to others, let us be careful we do not get harm to ourselves.By the sea-side - That is, by the Sea of Tiberias, on the shore of which Capernaum was situated. See the notes at Matthew 4:13. Mr 2:13-17. Levi's (OR Matthew's) Call and Feast. ( = Mt 9:9-13; Lu 5:27-32).

See on [1408]Mt 9:9-13.

Still it is said he taught them, thereby letting his ministers know what is their great work; and therefore they should be persons apt to teach, as Paul directeth Timothy, 1 Timothy 3:2. And he went forth again by the sea side,.... The sea of Galilee, where he had met with, and called Peter and Andrew, James and John; and not far from which were the solitary place, and the desert places, where he was before he entered into Capernaum:

and all the multitude resorted unto him; who had been with him at Peter's house, and about the door, and those who could not get near him:

and he taught them; the word of God, the Gospel, and the doctrines of it.

{2} And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.

(2) The gospel offends the proud and saves the humble.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Mark 2:13-17. See on Matthew 9:9-13; Luke 5:27-32. Matthew deals with this in the way of abridgment, but he has, nevertheless, retained at the end of the narrative the highly appropriate quotation from Hosea 6:6 (which Luke, following Mark, has not), as an original element from the collection of Logia.

ἐξῆλθε] out of Capernaum. Comp. Mark 2:1.

πάλιν] looks back to Mark 1:16.

Mark has peculiar to himself the statements παρὰ τ. θάλασσαν as far as ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς, but it is arbitrary to refer them to his subjective conception (de Wette, comp. Köstlin, p. 335).

Mark 2:14. παράγων] in passing along, namely, by the sea, by the place where Levi sat. Comp. Mark 2:16.

On Levi (i.e. Matthew) and Alphaeus, who is not to be identified with the father of James,[63] see Introd. to Matthew, § 1. Hilgenfeld, in his Zeitschr. 1864, p. 301 f., tries by arbitrary expedients to make out that Levi was not an apostle.

Mark 2:15. ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ] is understood by the expositors of the house of Levi.[64] Comp. Vulg.: “in domo illius.” In itself this is possible, but even in itself improbable, since by αὐτόν just before Jesus was meant; and it is to be rejected, because subsequently it is said of those who sat at meat with Him, just as it was previously of Levi: ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ. Moreover, the absolute καλέσαι (to invite), Mark 2:17, which Matthew and Mark have, while Luke adds εἰς μετάνοιαν, appears as a thoughtful reference to the host, the καλεῖν on whose part will transplant into the saving fellowship of His kingdom. Accordingly, the account in Matthew (see on Matthew 9:10) has rightly taken up Mark’s account which lies at its foundation, but Luke has not (Mark 5:29). It is not indeed expressly said in our text that Jesus went again into the city; this is nevertheless indirectly evident from the progress of the narrative (παράγων.… ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ.… κατακεῖσθαι κ.τ.λ.).

ἦσαν γὰρ πολλοὶ κ.τ.λ.] A statement serving to elucidate the expression just used: πολλοὶ τελῶναι κ.τ.λ., and in such a way that ἦσαν is prefixed with emphasis: for there were many (τελ. κ. ἁμαρτ.); there was no lack of a multitude of such people, and they followed after Jesus. Against the explanation of Kuinoel, Fritzsche, de Wette, Bleek: aderant, it may be at once decisively urged that such an illustrative statement would be unmeaning, and that ἠκολούθησαν may not be turned into a pluperfect. And mentally to supply with ἦσαν, as Bleek does: at the calling of Levi, is erroneous, because the narrative lies quite beyond this point of time.

Mark 2:16. The corrected reading (see the critical remarks) is to be explained: and Pharisaic scribes when they saw, etc., said to His disciples. To attach this κ. γραμμ. τ. Φαρισ. to the previous ἠκολούθ. (Tischendorf) is unsuitable, because ἦσαν γὰρ πολλοί, taken by itself alone, would be absolutely pleonastic, and because ἠκολούθ., in accordance with the context, can only mean the following of adherents.

Respecting ἰδόντες κ.τ.λ., comp. on Matthew 9:11. Here the direct seeing (coming to Him) of the γραμματ. is meant, not: cum intelligerent (Grotius and others, de Wette).

τί ὅτι] quid est, quod, so that there needs to be supplied after τί, not γέγονεν (Schaefer, ad Bos. Ell. p. 591), but the simple ἐστί. Comp. Luke 2:49; Acts 5:4; Acts 5:9.

[63] A confusion that actually arose in very early times, which had as its consequence the reading Ἰάκωβον (instead of Δευίν) in D, min., codd. in Or. and Vict. and codd. of It.

[64] Yet Bleek and Holtzmann have agreed with my view, and also Kahnis, Dogm. I. p. 409 f.Mark 2:13-17. Call of Levi, feast following (Matthew 9:9-13; Luke 5:27-32). This incident is not to be conceived as following immediately after that narrated in the foregoing section.13–22. Call of St Matthew; the Discourse at his House

13. he went forth] i. e. from the town of Capernaum to the shore of the Lake, probably through a suburb of fishers’ huts and custom-houses.Verses 13, 14. - It is probable that our Lord remained some time at Capernaum before he went forth again. The word "again" refers to his former going forth (see Mark 1:35). When he went forth on this occasion he appears to have traveled southwards along the sea-shore. There, not far from Capernaum, he saw Levi, the son of Alphseus, sitting at the receipt of custom (ἐπὶ τὸ τελώνιον); more literally, at the place of toll. This place would be in the direct line for traders from Damascus to Accho, and a convenient spot for the receipt of the duties on the shipping. It is observable that in St. Matthew's own Gospel (Matthew 9:9) he describes himself as "a man named Matthew." St. Luke, like St. Mark, calls him Levi. The same person is no doubt meant. It is most likely that his original name was Levi, and that upon his call to be an apostle he received a new name, that of Matthew, or Mattathias, which, according to Gesenius, means "the gift of Jehovah." In his own Gospel he names himself Matthew, that he might proclaim the kindness and love of Christ towards him, in the spirit of St. Paul, where he says, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" (1 Timothy 1:15). Follow me; me, that is, whom you have already heard preaching the gospel of the kingdom in Capernaum, and confirming it by many miracles, and especially by that conspicuous miracle spoken of by all, the healing of the paralytic. St. Chrysostom says that "our Lord called Matthew, who was already constrained by the report of his miracles." The condescension of Christ is shown in this, that he called Matthew the "publican," who on that account was odious to the Jews, not only to be a partaker of his grace, but to be one of his chosen followers, a friend, an apostle, and an evangelist. It has been urged against the truth of Christianity, by Porphyry and others, that the first disciples followed Christ blindly, as though they would have followed without reason any one who called them. But they were not men who acted upon mere impulse and without reason. The miracles, no doubt, produced an impression upon them. And then we may reasonably suppose that their moral faculties perceived the majesty of Deity shining through the countenance of the Son of God. As the magnet attracts the iron, so Christ drew Matthew and others to himself; and by this attractive power he communicated his graces and virtues to them, such as an ardent love of God, contempt of the world, and burning zeal for the salvation of souls. Resorted - taught (ἤρχετο - ἐδίδασκεν)

The imperfects are graphic - kept coming, kept teaching.

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