Lesson 35: Mark 2–3

“Lesson 35: Mark 2–3,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)

“Lesson 35,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 35

Mark 2–3


Jesus forgave and healed a paralytic man and then called Matthew to follow Him. He taught the scribes and Pharisees about the Sabbath day. The Savior continued to heal many people, sent forth His Apostles to preach, and warned against speaking blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.

Suggestions for Teaching

Mark 2:1–12

Jesus forgives and heals a paralytic man

Invite students to imagine that someone they love is suffering from a life-threatening physical challenge that requires specialized treatment.

  • Whom would you seek to help your loved one? Why?

  • What would you be willing to do if there was only one doctor who could help but it was difficult to schedule an appointment with this doctor?

Summarize Mark 2:1–4 by explaining that in the village of Capernaum in Galilee, there was a man “sick of the palsy” (verse 3), which means he was paralyzed. Four other men carried this man to the house where Jesus was. When they found that the house was so crowded that they could not enter it, they disassembled part of the roof of the house and lowered the paralytic man into the Savior’s presence.

Ask a student to read Mark 2:5 aloud, and invite the class to look for what Jesus said to the man with palsy. Ask students to report what they find.

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Mark 2:6–12. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened next.

  • According to verses 6–7, how did “certain of the scribes” respond to the Savior’s words? (They were angered by His claim to grant forgiveness for sins.)

  • What did Jesus ask the scribes?

  • What did the Savior demonstrate and teach by healing this man? (After students respond, help them identify the following truth: Jesus Christ has the power to heal us spiritually and physically.)

Point out that when the scribes saw the man with palsy rise from his bed and walk, they were given undeniable evidence that Jesus Christ had power to heal the sick and they heard Him testify that He could forgive sins. However, there is no indication that these men approached Jesus thereafter and sought forgiveness for their own sins.

(Note: The events recorded in Mark 2:1–12 will be discussed in greater depth in the lesson for Luke 5.)

Mark 2:13–22

Jesus calls Matthew to follow Him and eats with publicans and sinners

Divide students into pairs and give each pair a piece of paper. Invite students to discuss the following question with their partners and to list their answers on their papers.

  • What are some reasons why individuals might not seek the Lord’s forgiveness for their sins?

Ask a few students to report their answers, which might include the following: some individuals might not want to stop sinning; some might not want to acknowledge or confess their sins because of pride or embarrassment; others might hope the Lord will forgive them even if they do not repent; and some might believe the Lord has power to forgive, but they lack faith that He would forgive their particular sins.

Invite students to look for truths in Mark 2:13–22 that can encourage us to seek the Lord’s forgiveness.

Invite a student to read Mark 2:13–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Savior did after healing the paralyzed man.

  • What did the Savior do after healing this man?

  • How did Levi respond to the Savior’s invitation?

Explain that Levi also went by the name of Matthew and was the same Matthew who wrote the Gospel of Matthew. The phrase “sitting at the receipt of custom” (verse 14) means that Matthew was a publican and “a tax gatherer at Capernaum, probably in the service of Herod Antipas” (Bible Dictionary, “Matthew”). Many Jews hated publicans because they viewed publicans as traitors who collected money from their own people for the Romans.

  • According to verse 15, what did Matthew do for the Savior and His disciples?

  • Who else attended this feast?

Explain that during the Savior’s mortal ministry, sharing a meal meant much more than simply eating and drinking together. It indicated that a bond of friendship and peace existed among all the people who attended.

Invite a student to read Mark 2:16 aloud, and ask the class to look for how the scribes and Pharisees reacted when they saw the Savior eating with publicans.

  • What did the scribes and Pharisees say?

  • Why do you think they criticized Jesus for eating with publicans and sinners?

Ask a student to read Mark 2:17 aloud, and ask the class to look for the Savior’s response to the criticism of the scribes and Pharisees.

  • What word did the Savior use to describe Himself? (Point out that by using the word physician, the Savior reaffirmed His power to heal both spiritually and physically.)

  • How might the Savior’s response have helped the scribes and Pharisees understand why He associated with publicans and sinners?

  • What truth can we learn from verse 17 about how the Savior responds to our sins? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: The Savior desires to help us repent of our sins and be healed.)

  • Why is it important to believe that Jesus desires to help us repent and be healed?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Craig A. Cardon of the Seventy:

Cardon, Craig A.

“The Lord loves us and wants us to understand His willingness to forgive. …

“… All of us, including those struggling to overcome addictive behaviors such as substance abuse or pornography and those close to them, can know that the Lord will recognize our righteous efforts and will lovingly forgive when repentance is complete” (“The Savior Wants to Forgive,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 16).

  • How can we know that the Lord desires to help us repent and receive His forgiveness?

Invite students to ponder whether they are like the publicans and sinners (who acknowledged their need for the Savior and came unto Him) or like the scribes and Pharisees (who did not come unto the Savior to seek His forgiveness and healing power).

Testify of the Savior’s power and desire to heal us, and encourage students to seek His forgiveness through repentance when necessary.

Summarize Mark 2:18–22 by explaining that Jesus taught why His disciples did not fast while He was with them. He also taught why it was difficult for some people to accept His gospel. (Note: These teachings will be covered in greater depth in the lesson for Luke 5.)

Mark 2:23–3:6

Jesus teaches about the Sabbath

Ask students if they have ever chosen not to participate in an activity in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Invite a few to share their experiences.

Write the following question on the board and invite students to ponder it as they continue to study Mark 2–3: How do you know whether an activity is appropriate to do on the Sabbath?

Divide the class in half. Invite one half to read Mark 2:23–28 silently. (Encourage these students to also read Joseph Smith Translation, Mark 2:26–27 [in the Bible appendix]). Ask the other half to read Mark 3:1–6 silently. Instruct students to look for what the Savior and His disciples did that the Sadducees believed was a violation of the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy.

After sufficient time, ask the following questions:

  • What did the Pharisees believe was unlawful for the Savior and His disciples to do on the Sabbath? (Plucking corn and healing someone.)

  • Why would the Pharisees consider it a violation of God’s laws to pluck corn or heal someone on the Sabbath?

If necessary, remind students that Jewish teachers added their own rules and interpretations, called the oral law or tradition, to the law of Moses. These added rules were intended to prevent violation of God’s law, but they also prevented some people from understanding the true purpose of certain commandments, including the command to keep the Sabbath day holy.

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: We can keep the Sabbath day holy by …

  • How would you complete this statement based on the Savior’s teachings in Mark 2–3? (After students respond, complete the statement on the board so it conveys the following truth: We can keep the Sabbath day holy by glorifying God and doing good works.)

  • In what ways can we glorify God on His holy day?

  • What are some examples of doing good works on the Sabbath?

To help students understand how they can determine activities that are appropriate for the Sabbath, ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President James E. Faust of the First Presidency:

Faust, James E.

“Where is the line as to what is acceptable and unacceptable on the Sabbath? Within the guidelines, each of us must answer this question for ourselves. While these guidelines are contained in the scriptures and in the words of the modern prophets, they must also be written in our hearts and governed by our conscience. … It is quite unlikely that there will be any serious violation of Sabbath worship if we come humbly before the Lord and offer him all our heart, our soul, and our mind. (See Matt. 22:37.)

“What is worthy or unworthy on the Sabbath day will have to be judged by each of us by trying to be honest with the Lord. On the Sabbath day we should do what we have to do and what we ought to do in an attitude of worshipfulness and then limit our other activities” (“The Lord’s Day,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 35).

  • How have you felt blessed as you have tried to worship God and do good works on the Sabbath?

Encourage students to ponder one way they can better keep the Sabbath day holy and to write a goal to do so in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.

Mark 3:7–35

Jesus heals many people, sends forth His Apostles to preach, and warns others about blasphemy

Summarize Mark 3:7–35 by explaining that Jesus went to the Sea of Galilee and healed many people who followed Him there, including some who had unclean spirits. After selecting Twelve Apostles, Jesus ordained them and sent them forth to preach, heal, and cast out devils. He then warned the scribes about speaking blasphemy against the Holy Ghost and taught that His family are the people who do Heavenly Father’s will.

(Note: Some of the events recorded in Mark 3:7–35 were covered in greater depth in the lesson for Matthew 12:22–35.)

To conclude, you may want to testify of the truths identified in the lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Mark 2:7. Jesus healed the paralytic both spiritually and physically

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that Jesus provided undeniable evidence that He was the Messiah when He healed the paralytic man:

“This event in the life of our Lord was visible and irrefutable proof that he was the Messiah; and it was so recognized by those among whom he ministered. He had borne frequent verbal testimony that God was his Father and had supported that personal witness with an unparalleled ministry of preaching and healing. Now it was his purpose to announce that he had done what no one but God could do and to prove that he had done it by a further manifestation of his Father’s power.

“Both Jesus and the ‘doctors of the law’ who were then present knew that none but God can forgive sins. Accordingly, as a pointed and dramatic witness that the power of God was resident in him, Jesus took (perhaps sought) this appropriate occasion to forgive sins. Being then called in question by the scripturalists who knew (and that rightly) that the false assumption of the power to forgive sins was blasphemy, Jesus did what no imposter could have done—he proved his divine power by healing the forgiven man. To his query, ‘Does it require more power to forgive sins than to make the sick rise up and walk?’ there could be only one answer! They are as one; he that can do the one, can do the other” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:177–78).

Mark 2:27–28. A day for glorifying God

Elder Mark E. Peterson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained what our observance of the Sabbath communicates to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ:

“Our observance or nonobservance of the Sabbath is an unerring measure of our attitude toward the Lord personally and toward his suffering in Gethsemane, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead” (“The Sabbath Day,” Ensign, May 1975, 49).

Mark 3:4. “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil?”

President Spencer W. Kimball helped clarify what it means to “do good” on the Sabbath day:

“The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things. Abstinence from work and recreation is important, but insufficient. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it” (“The Sabbath—a Delight,” Ensign, Jan. 1978, 4).

President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the following counsel on Sabbath day observance:

“In my much younger years, I studied the work of others who had compiled lists of things to do and things not to do on the Sabbath. It wasn’t until later that I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father [see Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:12, 20]. With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, ‘What sign do I want to give to God?’ That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear. …

“… What sign will you give to the Lord to show your love for Him?” (“The Sabbath Is a Delight,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 130).