Mark 2:1-3:6 – Five Stories of Conflict with the Jewish Authorities


Mark 2:1-3:6


Jewish leaders have contact with Jesus and conflict ensues concerning his authority.


The cleansing of the leper in the previous story leads into Jesus’ inaugural encounter with the Jewish authorities in this cycle of five conflict stories. The first conflict brings together two religious questions concerning healing (2:1-5a, 11-12) and forgiving (2:5b-10), revealing Jesus to be the Son of Man who has authority on earth to forgive sins and heal. When Jesus calls Levi to follow him and eats with tax collectors, a second conflict erupts with the religious leaders (2:13-17). The question of fasting is the third conflict in which Jesus uses two images to teach about the truth of his presence. Wedding guests do not fast when the bridegroom (Jesus) is present, and new wine (Jesus) cannot be held in old wineskins (2:18-22). The fourth conflict story centers around the Sabbath violation by Jesus and his disciples who pluck grain on the Sabbath, concluding with Jesus’ proclamation that he is the Son of Man who is the lord of the Sabbath (2:23-28). The fifth conflict story also concerns Sabbath violation as Jesus works by healing a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath (3:1-6).