Mark 2.21-22 – The authority and divinity of Jesus
Posted: 30 July 2010 in Mark

No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.

I sometimes hear Christians ask, where in the New Testament does Jesus claim divinity? I will admit that, until very recently, I would not have believed that such a thing could be asked by Christians. One answer to the question, however, that is that Jesus claims divinity in numerous places in the Gospel of John. It must be admitted that references to his divinity are less explicit in the synoptic gospels, but even there they are still to be found, and the above passage is one such.

Jesus at this point in Mark is clearly announcing the arrival of a new covenant, and a setting aside of the Mosaic Covenant (new cloth – old garment; new wine – old bottles). In first century Judaism, claiming the authority to say such a thing would have bordered on blasphemy. Nobody would have been able to say it unless he was either insane, or knew himself to have the necessary authority. At the very least he would have needed the authority of a prophet. Here, however, there are none of the theophanies, at Mount Sinai, or at the burning bush, which Moses witnessed when the Old Covenant was being announced. Instead Jesus needs no such special revelations from God, because he is here speaking with the authority of God Incarnate.

Earlier in chapter 2, the scribes and Pharisees were scandalised when Jesus forgave the paralysed man his sins, again on his own authority.

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