1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
If the house was like the eastern houses which travellers describe to us, it would be a flat-roofed building of one storey, with a wide door opening to a paved court in front. Jesus would be seated inside some distance from the door, with the people standing and sitting all about him, filling the room and overflowing through the doorway into the court yard.
The "doctors of the law" had secured a place in the inner circle. Jesus discoursed to the assembly in terms not recorded. The Pharisees and lawyers were sitting with ears attent. They were in the keenly observant mood of a perplexed scepticism which desired to find a flaw, but could not resist the wisdom of his speech or deny the wonder of his works.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 19
4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
No doubt people in the house would expostulate with the intruders, and endeavour to persuade them to withdraw the strange burden, and restore the roof.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 19
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
*These words startled the aforesaid "Pharisees and lawyers." They looked at each other and whispered, as much as to say, "Ha! did you hear that? We have got something now." Their actual words (under their breath) were...*
7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
He places the two things on a par in point of power and authority. If he could do the one, was it not evidence of ability to do the other? Who could cure the palsy with a word but God only? And if God gave the Son of Man power on earth to cure the palsy and do many other works that no man could do, why should he not confer upon him the power to forgive sin also, which was neither more difficult nor more easy?
Pressing home this argument, he said to them...*
10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
All eyes were now upon the man, who arose with the ease and strength of a man in perfect health, packed up his couch, and lifted it on his shoulder. A passage being made for him among the people, he carried it out before them all. Everyone was simply amazed and struck with admiration. They "marvelled that God had given such power unto men" (Matt. ix. 8). The Pharisees could only be silent. *
13 And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.
Jesus then motioned to pass out, and a way being made for him, "he went forth again by the seaside, and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them." "The common people heard him gladly."
The uncommon people did not. On the contrary, they heard him, first with curious interest, then with suspicious dislike, then with open hostility, and lastly with implacable hatred and determination to compass his destruction. But things did not reach this pass all at once. As yet they were in the studious mood. The common people were intent on hearing him; and the leaders were obliged to follow in their train.*
* Nazareth Revisited ch 19.
14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
Returning from the seaside, Jesus passed the tax-collector's office (for Capernaum) in which an official was seated who had been keeping an open and interested eye on the movements of Christ, and on whom Christ now had his eye.
This was "Matthew, the publican," who belonged to a class that was not in good savour with the higher ranks of society in Israel at this time. He was a Jew, but a servant of the Romans, and was therefore looked down upon as an unpatriotic and defiled Israelite. Besides this, the publicans as a class were extortioners. They paid a stipulated sum to the government as the taxes accruing from the district over which they were appointed, and collected as much more as they could, by pressure and extortion, thereby enriching themselves at the expense of the community.
...The publicans were, therefore, as a class, in great odium. But in all classes, there are men better than their class. And Matthew was not an unjust man, though a publican. He was a man fit in Christ's estimation to be an ambassador of Christ; and the time had come to call him. Jesus therefore stopped before the office, and fixing his eyes on Matthew, simply said, "Follow me." For this summons, Matthew had evidently been previously prepared; for, without any hesitation or delay, "he arose and followed him."
* Nazareth Revisited ch 19.
15 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
"The Disciples."-This designation occurs some 120 times or more, and expresses the idea of learners (as the word means); and therefore of a teacher or instructor such as Christ was, to whom they listened, and whom they looked up to as a leader guide in divine things, and the expositor of the principles to which they had become attached. "Learn of me," said Christ; "one is your master" (or leader).
The Christadelphian, Apr 1888
16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
It is all very well for "Gentiles in the flesh" who are yet "afar off," without God in the world, to continually declare themselves "miserable sinners." "Saints in Christ" are not miserable sinners. They have the spirit of adoption sent forth into their hearts; and they cry "Abba Father," and in words of joyful gratitude, give praise to His name and make their requests known to Him; giving earnest heed to living "soberly, righteously, and godly."
"The Lord taketh pleasure in his saints; only let them see that they turn not again unto folly."
We must be doers of the will of the Father before He will hear us.
"If any man be a doer of His will, him He heareth" (John 9:31).
If we are doers of His will, we may still say "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us;" because of our shortcomings and sins while yet in subjection to a nature in which sin dwells. But we will not defile our worship by the false models of prayer extant in the corrupt religious world of the present day; in which the utterers of them pour out a stream of loathsome declarations, under the idea that God is pleased with sinners who confess themselves to be such in the most abject manner.
What God wants is the reforming of sinners. He will forgive such, and delight in their ascriptions when they come to Him with "clean hands and a pure heart." He will forgive the errors and shortcomings of such as are after His own heart; but the proud, and the unclean, and the indifferent, and the continually disobedient He will not look at. Their abject protestations are mere lip-worship, which He hates; and even if heart-worship, it is not of the sort that He loves.
The condition of favourable reception is this:
"Come out from among them and be separate, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you, and I will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters" (2 Cor. 6:17).
18 And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?
The question of fasting was important. Evidently this question was posed three times; first to the Pharisees, then a little later by the people, and also by John's disciples among others who "were waiting for him" (Lk. 8:40). The question and answer were most important and expressed a note of divergence between the popular John and the new teacher who had been endorsed by the Baptist.
The answer also claimed that Christ was the Bridegroom or Messiah, and set aside the extreme asceticism of the Pharisees. As news of his answer circulated among the people, they approached him for confirmation thereof. Finally the disciples of John made their individual and personal approach.
24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?
26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?
27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
Yahoshua -- 'was guiltless: for he did the work of God on that day in healing the sick as the Father had commanded him'.
It was a wise and beneficent institution. It prevented the Israelites from wearing out themselves and their dependants by incessant toil; and revived in them a weekly remembrance of the law and promises of God.
It was, however, only "a SHADOW of things to come," the substance of which is found in the things which pertain to the Anointed One of God. (Col. 2:16-17; and 14). It was a part of "the rudiments of the world" inscribed on "the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us," and which the Lord Jesus "took out of the way, nailing it to His cross."
When He lay entombed He rested from His labours, abiding in His place all the seventh day. Having ended His work, He arose on the eight day, "and was refreshed." The shadowy sabbath disappeared before the brightness of the rising of the Sun of righteousness; who, having become the accursed of the law, delivered His brethren from its sentence upon all.
Elpis Israel 1.2.
28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
The Sabbath, intended as a blessing, had in Christ's day degenerated into a day of oppressive restraint and formalism; and Christ had to remind his generation that" the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath" (Mark 2: 27). In all cases in which he appears in connection with the Sabbath, it is in opposition to those who stickled for what might be called a sabbatarian treatment of the day. Let the following illustrate:
1. A synagogue ruler had testily said to the people who were so attentive to Jesus: "There are six days in which men ought to work: in them, therefore, come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day". Jesus said: "Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath day loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering, and ought not this woman . . to be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day ?" (Luke 13: 14).
2. On another occasion the Pharisees having found fault with the disciples for plucking the ears of corn as they passed through a field on a Sabbath day, Jesus said: "Have ye not read in the law how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless ? But I say unto you that in this place is one greater than the temple. If ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day" (Matt. 12: 5-8).
3. "And it came to pass on another sabbath that he entered into the synagogue and taught... and the scribes and Pharisees watched him whether he would heal on the sabbath day .... And Jesus said unto them, I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the sabbath day, to do good, or to do evil, to save life, or to destroy it ? And looking round about upon them, he said unto the man (with the withered hand), Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other" (Luke 6: 6).
4. "And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day ? And they held their peace... And they could not answer him again to these things" (Luke 14: 1, 6).
5. "After this, there was a feast of the Jews .... And Jesus saith unto him (an impotent man), Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk ....
Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God" (John 5: 1, 8-11, 16-18).
6. "If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath ?" (John 7:23).
7. "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man that was blind from his birth. And... he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which is by interpretation, Sent). He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing... And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes .... Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day" (John 9: 1, 6, 14, 16).
There can be no mistaking the attitude on the Sabbath question illustrated by these passages from the life of Christ. There are no others of a contrary tenor. As for the apostles, they not only teach, as we have seen, that the law of Moses is "done away in Christ" (2 Cor. 3: 11-14), but they single out the Sabbath for special indication. Paul says to the Colossians, Christ having blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ" (Col. 2: 16, 17).
Paul's fear of the Galatians was founded on the fact that they "observed days, and months, and times, and years" (Gal. 4: 10). He reminded them that Christ was "made under the law that he might redeem them that were under the law" (verses 4, 5), who before time were "under the elements "of that system (verse 3), but had now "received the adoption of sons ", which made it an utterly incongruous thing in the eyes of Paul that they should "turn again to the weak and beggarly elements" of the law.
"Tell me ", says he, "ye that desire to be under the law ", and proceeded with the allegory of Sarah and Hagar (verse 9, 21). To the Romans he plainly says that the observance of days which was imperative under Moses is a matter of indifference to those who stand in Christ. "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord. He that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it" (Rom. 14: 5, 6).
It is evident, therefore, that those make a great mistake who speak of "the Christian Sabbath" in the sense of its being a day to be observed by believers in Christ as the seventh day was observed under Moses. In fact, there is no such thing in scriptural truth as "the Christian Sabbath". Christ appointed no Sabbath, and the Sabbath of Moses was the seventh and not the first day of the week. Christ appointed the assembly of his brethren to break bread in remembrance of him, and by apostolic usage, this assembly was held on the first day of the week, but this is a different thing from keeping the day holy as a day.
On this we have no command, and "where there is no law, there is no transgression" The Sabbatarians, whether of the first or seventh day type, are seeking to impose a yoke where God has imposed none. True it is that "the law is good if man use it lawfully" (1 Tim. 1:8), and that the cessation from secular work once in seven days is a good thing.
A man is at liberty to do this if he choose, and to set the day apart for special exercises in a religious direction if he choose; but he has no authority to lay down an imperative law for himself or others where God has imposed none. The only law laid upon believers in such a manner is to "forsake not the assembling of themselves together "; and apostolic example leads them to obey this law on the first day of the week, and to make the breaking of bread "in remembrance" of Christ the chief feature of it.
The command to keep any particular day "holy" belongs to the law of Moses, which has been corruptly copied by State Christianity and a false church. The abuse has been carried to such absurd lengths in the Greek and Latin communions that there is no part of the year's calendar that is not dotted over with so-called "holy" days.
The Sabbath will be reinstituted in the "kingdom restored to Israel" along with the passover and other feasts (Ezek. 45: 17-21); but that will concern the mortal populations who have the privilege to be ruled by the saints. It does not concern either the one or the other now in this era of downtreading of all things divine. The only divine work that is going on now is the preparation of a people for the Lord's own use as fellow-rulers with him in the glory to be revealed; and their preparation is by the belief and obedience of the gospel and not by any of the institutions of Moses, which for the time being have all been taken out of the way.
Law of Moses Ch 6.