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CHAPTER TWO "Lawbreakers"

Several days later, Jesus came back to Capernaum and word got out that he was back at Simon's house. Many people crowded around Jesus in the house and pretty soon there was nowhere to hold everyone, not even near the door. Even so, Jesus continued preaching the good news. Within the crowd there were four men who were caring for a friend who couldn't walk. They put the paralyzed man on a mat and tried to bring him to Jesus. When they weren’t able to cut through the crowd outside they climbed on top of the house and began to tear off the grassy roof directly above Jesus. After they had dug all the way through the mud and clay on top, they lowered a makeshift bed holding the paralyzed man down into the house.

When Jesus saw how much faith these men had put in him, he addressed their paralyzed friend. “Child, your sins are taken care of,” he said. Some of the experts of the ancient laws were sitting there and when they heard Jesus say this they were shocked. They were in disbelief, agitated at how offensive Jesus' words were. “Who does this guy think he is? Saying these kinds of things?” they asked. “He is spitting in the face of God! Who has the power to pardon crimes against God but God alone!? He deserves to die for this blasphemy!” Immediately as they said this, Jesus realized that they were criticizing him. “Why do you keep ruminating on what I said?" he asked. "Why are you so offended by it?" “Which is easier," Jesus asked them, "for me to simply say ‘Your sins are taken care of’ or for me to say ‘Stand up, grab your bed, and walk’?” “In order for you all to understand that I, the Son of Man, really do have the power to forgive sins here on Earth, something normally reserved for God in Heaven, I'm going to show you that I "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of can put my money where my mouth is." heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led He looked at the paralyzed man. into his presence. He was given authority, glory and "Stand up!," he commanded. "Pick up your mat and go sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every home!” language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting Suddenly, before everyone, the paralytic man stood up, dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is picked up his bed and walked out of the house on his own two one that will never be destroyed." legs. Everyone was stunned. “We’ve never seen anything like this!” the crowd exclaimed. They knew that what they just witnessed was an act of God, -The Prophet Daniel 7:13-14 so they began to give praise and honor to God for the miracle.

Jesus then left the village of Capernaum and went back out to the seashore while the entire crowd from the house followed him. He walked along the great roads of Galilee and continued to teach them, much like other rabbis did during that time. As he was walking along one day he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in a toll booth. Even though tax-collectors like Levi were seen as thieves and traitors in the eyes of the people, Jesus approached him. "Follow me!" Jesus commanded. Levi stood up and followed him. Later that night Jesus and his students were having dinner at Levi's house, along with many tax-collectors, thieves, outsiders, sinners, and people who ignored the ancient Law. In fact, many of Jesus' followers tended to be these types of people. When the legal experts saw that he was not only spending time with sinners and thieves but even going so far as eating with them, they went to Jesus' students. "Why is he eating with these thieves and sinners and lawbreakers!? They aren't even allowed in the synagogue because of who they are!" While the legal experts and Jesus' students were talking this over, Jesus overheard them. "People who are healthy have no need for a doctor," he told them. "Sick people do. I haven't come with a special invitation for the upright and honorable, but for people who don't measure up."

"people who don't measure up"

Meanwhile, the Pharisees, a religious group devoted to studying the law, were fasting along with John the Baptist's disciples. Jesus and his students, however, did not follow the rules requiring religious fasts. One day, some people came to Jesus and asked him why he was so lax on the rules. "The Pharisees fast," they said. "and so do John's followers. Why don't your students do the same?" "Think of our own Jewish wedding traditions," Jesus said. "Do the guests fast during the week-long after party at the groom's house?" "No way!" Jesus exclaimed. "It's the happiest week of their lives, filled with drinking and dancing! The rabbis even made us rules to ignore fasting during a wedding week." "There will be a day when the groom is taken away," Jesus said, "and then the party will stop. That's the time to fast. Not now." "Nobody sews a new patch on an old cloak," Jesus continued. "When it rains, the new patch will shrink and tear the old cloak worse than before." "Or think of it this way. When you make wine, you take the grapes, mash them up, and put the juice into a new leather pouch. That way, while it ferments and ages, the new leather can expand along with the wine." "Now what would happen if you took unfermented wine and put it in an old pouch with old leather? It would explode! The old leather wouldn't be able to expand and stretch itself and the wine would be ruined."

"You never grow old � you become old by not continuing to grow." -Anonymous

Later that week on the Sabbath, Jesus was going through a grain-field. As they went along through the field, his students began to pick the heads of grain to snack on. "Look at this!", the Pharisees exclaimed. "Why are they breaking the law by working on the Day of Rest?" "Haven't you ever read what King David and his companions did when they were hungry?" Jesus shot back. "When Abiathar was the High Priest, David went into God's house and ate the bread which was set aside for God alone. He also shared it with his companions, even though the priests were the only ones allowed to eat it." "The Sabbath day of rest exists to serve people - to give them a break." Jesus explained. "People don't exist to serve the Sabbath." "You see, I, the Son of Man, have power and authority over all things. Even over the Sabbath."

"If you enter your neighbor's grainfield on the Sabbath,you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to his standing grain." -Deuteronomy 23:25

"What, exactly, is allowed on the Sabbath?"

Jesus left the field and went back into the Capernaum Synagogue where he had recently healed a man with a filthy spirit. Inside there was another man whose hand was withered and dried like a dead plant. Meanwhile, the Pharisees were scrutinizing Jesus, keeping their eyes on him to see if he would dare break the rules and heal the man on the Sabbath. If he did they might have something that they could hold against him in court. "Come over here!" Jesus ordered the man with the dead hand. "Stand right here in the middle of us!" "What, exactly, is allowed on the Sabbath?" Jesus asked the Pharisees. "If someone does a good deed on the Sabbath is that really evil? If I follow the letter of the law, if I obey the rules and refuse to heal this man, wouldn't that be evil in itself ? Is it really evil to help save a life on the Sabbath? Or is it better to refuse to help on the Sabbath and kill someone?" The Pharisees were silent the entire time, not answering a single word. Jesus looked at each and every one of them straight in the eye. Jesus burned with anger, heartbroken over their narrow-minded and stubborn convictions. "Stretch out your hand," Jesus told the man. The man obeyed and stretched his hand out. Immediately, it sprang back to life. Without waiting another second, the Pharisees left the Synagogue and went off to the supporters of King Herod, despite the fact that they were political enemies. The Pharisees believed that they could work together with Herod and his supporters to hatch a scheme that could destroy Jesus.

Chapter Two: Lawbreakers  

Coffee Table Gospel Chapter Two