The Rule Breaker
No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins. Mark 2:22
Jesus was an iconoclast—a rule breaker. The Pharisees and Sadducees had added hundreds of amendments to the Mosaic Law, creating a weight of religious obligation no one could bear. Jesus came to free His people, including us, from that burden.
During Jesus’ three years of ministry, He demonstrated the proper way to please God, not by following rules but by allowing God’s attributes to take root in our hearts. In Mark 2, He teaches us three lessons about the way God’s true servants should act.
First, Jesus evaluated people based on their faith not their social standing or personal history. When the paralyzed man’s friends used an unconventional, possibly illegal, method to gain Jesus’ attention, He “saw their faith” and responded to it (v. 5). The teachers of the law condemned Him, calling Jesus a blasphemer for saying He could forgive sins. However, the rest of the crowd recognized His authority and “praised God” (v. 12).
Second, Jesus chose to fraternize with social outcasts—the tax collectors who worked for the Roman oppressors and exploited their fellow Jews. Why? Because the tax collectors recognized their need. They knew they were spiritually hungry and could not eat unless He provided the meal; they could not be whole unless He healed them.
Third, He showed that human need superseded the interpretations of the Law the Pharisees cherished (v. 27). Jesus offered new wine in fresh wineskins: a personal relationship with God based on faith and motivated by love. He was not going to pour the Law of Love into the old wineskins of the Mosaic Law.
The Pharisees, and even John the Baptist’s disciples, were convinced there was one way to be godly, one way to serve God—their way. Jesus showed them a different way. To serve God, we must learn to value people above man-made rules, to see souls not social outcasts, and to love others rather than judge them.
Jesus broke the rules that religious people esteemed so that He could reveal what God esteemed. What rules would Jesus break that I am fully devoted to?
Jesus referred to Himself as the “Son of Man” fifteen times in Mark, the first time in Mark 2:10. According to Daniel 7:13-14, it is a messianic title. Did the Pharisees realize that? Read Luke 6:1-11.
Read the four questions asked in Mark 2: 7, 16, 18, and 24. What do those questions reveal about the people who asked them? What do Jesus’ answers reveal about Him?
What similarities do you see between the paralytic, the man with the withered hand, and Levi? What can we learn from their encounters with Jesus?
Read James 1:26-27. How do Jesus’ actions and words in Mark 2 illustrate the point James is making in this passage?
Denise K. Loock