Yeshua was involved in a number of disputes. What were they about? Some see these a Yeshua turning from the old religion and pointing people to a new one. E.P. Sanders helps us understand some levels of dispute about laws. What was at issue for Yeshua in these disputes? What issue was more important than principles about how to keep the laws of Torah? The disputes of Yeshua give us another small window into his aims within the context of Israel in the first century.
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Consider the dispute section in Mark 2:1 – 3:6.
2:1-12, The paralytic is healed and Yeshua says, “Your sins are forgiven.” Is he just saying, “I can tell that God has forgiven your sins”? When some want to dispute with him, Yeshua says, “In order that you make know that the son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins, I tell you, get up.” Yeshua defends his right to forgive sins.
2:13-17, Yeshua calls a tax collector and dines with some. When people dispute with him, Yeshua defends his right to call sinners to the kingdom of God.
2:18-22, Some dispute with Yeshua about why his disciples don’t fast like other disciples. Yeshua calls himself the Bridegroom (a provocative image which could be taken as a claim to deity, since Hashem is Israel’s bridegroom). He defends the right of his disciples not to fast.
2:23-28, As the walk through a grainfield on Shabbat, some of his disciples pick grain, roll it in their hands, and eat it. When some dispute this as a transgression of the law of Shabbat rest, Yeshua defends his disicples’ practice. He says he is the son of man, Lord of Shabbat.
3:1-6, Yeshua healed someone on Shabbat who was not in immediate danger of dying. When some dispute this, Yeshua lays down a principle on his own authority: it is lawful to do good and not harm on Shabbat.
How do these disputes give us a window on Yeshua’s aims within Israel and his own generation? If you have thoughts and ideas, please share them.