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Who Do You Say I Am?
The Gospel of Mark
Opposition to the Invasion


This morning I am going to begin by talking about two things I don’t know anything about… sewing and drinking.  Or more specifically…

Mark 2:21-22 “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made.  And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins- and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins."

What?  These cryptic statements by Jesus seem to be significant.  I don’t want to rip my favorite shirt.  Nor, do I want to blow up a wineskin… that would make a mess.  So, the challenge this morning is to figure out what Jesus is talking about. I suspect it is not about sewing or drinking.

Let’s figure this out.  These cryptic statements are in the middle of a chiasm.  What?  Remember a chiasm is the A, B, C, B, A literary device where the As are the same and the Bs are the same and everything points to the C.  That means the sewing/wine thing is the focus of Mark 2:1 all the way through Mark 3:6. 

Here are five pericopes which set up the chiasm…

--A paralyzed guy is healed in 2:1-12.

          --Jesus calls a tax collector in 2:13-17.

                   --Jesus teaches about fasting in 2:18-22, which includes our cryptic statements.

          --Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath in 2:23-26.

--A guy with a withered hand is healed in 3:1-6.

Let me quickly work through each of these stories. Then we will get back to solving the cryptic sewing and the drinking statements.

Last week we saw a paralyzed guy lowered through the roof into the presence of Jesus.  Jesus said the unexpected, “Your sins are forgiven.”  The scribes took exception… “That’s blasphemy.  Only God can forgive sins.”  They were right and wrong.  They were right about sin being a God thing. But they were wrong about Jesus blaspheming.  Because the Son of Man had authority on earth to forgive sins.  The proof of who Jesus is was in the jig. 

Here is the point… Jesus is criticized for claiming the God thing forgiving sins.

Here is our first clue… The guy formally known as paralyzed danced a jig or at least was healed.

Then in...

Mark 2:13-17 Jesus went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them.  And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him.  And as Jesus reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.  And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"  And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

Everyone hated the tax collectors.  Even more than we dislike the IRS.  At least our taxes mostly go to our country.  Levi, also known as Matthew, collected taxes for the hated Romans.  Levi worked for the enemy.  Not only did he extort them of their hard-earned money, he was a traitor. Most likely Levi’s booth was down by Lake Galilee collecting taxes from the fisherman… like Simon, Andrew, James and John.  Jesus’s first four disciples most likely would have known Levi. I suspect they would have grumbled at Levi every day for years. 

When Jesus walks up to Levi’s booth, no one is expecting... “Follow me.”  What?  “We don’t need no stinking tax collectors!”  And then… and then… Jesus invited them all over for supper!  Let’s party with the sinners…what?

Table fellowship has always carried with it acceptance!  Jesus shares bread with Levi, the tax collectors!  No wonder Jesus is criticized… "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

Jesus answers, I suspect with some sarcasm in his voice, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

Point… Jesus is criticized for accepting sinners.

Clue… Jesus is partying with the sinners.


That is the A and B, let’s move to the C; the point of these five pericopes.

Mark 2:18-20 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"  And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.

The Pharisees thought that all those who were holy would obviously fast at least once a week.  The most devoted; fasted two days a week.  But Jesus did not.  He is criticized, again… “If you are so good… why don’t you teach your disciples to fast?”

The answer Jesus gives is a clue which leads into our cryptic sewing/drinking sayings.  “It wouldn’t be right to fast at a wedding.  I am the groom. I am with my wedding party.  We can’t fast.  We are here to party.  But the day will come when fasting is appropriate.” 

Jesus is being criticized for not fasting.  But the clue is a wedding.

Our clues, so far… New clothes… new wine… jigs… feasting… wedding…  These clues are sounding pretty fun, even for someone who doesn’t know anything about drinking.

Let’s keep going.  “Hurry up… I can’t wait till we figure it out.”

Mark 2:23-28 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain.  And the Pharisees were saying to him, "Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?" And he said to them, "Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?"  And he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So, the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath."

The nit-picking Pharisees criticize Jesus, again.  This time over harvesting grain on the Sabbath.  This is, technically, work.  You aren’t supposed to work on the Sabbath, therefore Jesus is violating the Sabbath rules. He is associating with sinners, again.  These sinners violate the Sabbath.

Jesus, then, tells them a story.  Without going into a lot of details, David breaks the law by eating the bread that was supposed to be only for the priests. Was David guilty of sin when his need, his hunger, his mission to be king, was greater than the ritual law?  Jesus says no.  The Pharisees don’t say anything. 

Jesus, then, gives us another clue as to what he is doing.  The Sabbath regulations were a good thing given to people to bless their lives.  The Sabbath was a gift to people.  But the Pharisees had turned them into a chore.  What was originally meant as a day off, which everyone likes, The Pharisees and their laws had turned the Sabbath into a day of misery. 

Then, Jesus makes another SON OF MAN statement… “The Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”  Because of who Jesus is and what he came to do… he has authority as the Son of Man to say what the Sabbath is about.

Jesus eating on the Sabbath was a deliberate sign, like the refusal to fast.  This was a sign that the Groom is here; that the kingdom is beginning to restore, the new creation is already bursting upon the old world.  Jesus is going to renew all law!

Jesus is criticized for breaking the Sabbath.

The clue is about eating.  I like eating. 

One more clue…

Mark 3:1-6 Again Jesus entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.  And he said to the man with the withered hand, "Come here."  And Jesus said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent.  And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.  The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

This is cold blooded. The Pharisees witness a full-blown miracle in their presence. Their response is to kill the one who did the miracle.  The reason the Pharisees are so upset with Jesus is their vision of the kingdom of God was being challenged. The Pharisees believed if Israel would follow all their laws with precision; if they did all the things which were important to being holy, then the kingdom of God would happen; all would be right if everyone were holier.

But the Kingdom vision Jesus was advancing, was a total restoration of his creation!  This is a big clue.  Jesus did not invade the world to tweak a few things to make God happy.  Jesus did not invade the world so that people would live better.  Jesus invaded the world to change it all!  Jesus came to press reboot button of the universe.  That little button on your computer that restarts your computer… Jesus came to push it on his creation.  The point of the invasion was to bring us back to the garden!  To reboot creation back to what it was intended to be from the beginning! 

So, obviously, all the authorities of this world were going to oppose him. 

--The Romans did not want a rebooted… they liked their power.

--The Sadducees were happy being in cahoots with the Romans. They like cahoots not reboots.

--The scribes and Pharisees just wanted to change some behaviors, so God would wake up and bless them.

--The Zealots wanted war.

Everyone was only interested in just a tweaking the way things were.  But Jesus invaded the earth to bring it all down… to start anew.  

So, Jesus, with anger in his eyes, demonstrated his intentions to restore creation by restoring this guy’s broken hand.  Just like he intended to bring the world back to its original beauty… he brought the guy’s hand back to perfection!  Bam… “That’s what it’s all about!”  The clue is in the healing of the broken hand.

Let’s review the clues with have gathered.

--A paralyzed guy dances a jig.

   --Jesus is partying with sinners.

      --Jesus is the groom at the wedding.

   --Jesus is Lord of eating.

--Healing a broken hand.

Which brings us back to the sewing and drinking thing.

With these clues, all gathered up, let’s read the sewing and drinking statements again…

Mark 2:21-22 “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made.  And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins- and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins."

--Jesus did not come to patch up the old system.  Jesus came to bring us a new garment; a new wedding garment.

--Jesus did not come to try to fit into the old system; the old wineskin.  Jesus came to bring new wine.  New wine to the wedding that changes everything. 

Jesus came to make everything altogether new! Jesus did not come to tweak the current systems, but to completely renovate the world.  Within this renovation is the making all things new.

--The broken body of the paralytic is restored just like the new body we one day will get!

   --Feasting with tax collectors and sinners looks forward to the messianic banquet when Jesus sits down with people of all types!

      --There is no fasting at a wedding!  Jesus came to bring a new marriage covenant with us!

   --The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath who will one day usher us into his Sabbath rest.  Every day will be a holiday… a holy day… a feast day!

--The healed hand points to all deformity, all brokenness, all hurt, all pain, all ugly being healed!

Listen to this picture…

Revelation 19:7-9 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God."

I don’t know anything about sewing or drinking, but I do know that one day I will sit at the marriage banquet with Jesus dressed in new clothes drinking the new wine!  


Tim Stidham

March 12 2016

Los Alamos Church of Christ


Los Alamos Church of Christ - 2323 Diamond Drive - Los Alamos, New Mexico - 87544 - (505) 695.5875