The Way - Day 093 (Mark 2)

Daily Reading:
Mark 2
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
What sort of comfort do you take when Jesus said "I didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners"?  How does this fit in with the rest of the characters in the Bible?  What do you think the righteous think they don't need?  Take a quiet moment to reflect on what you think you need.  Who do you align with more?  The righteous or the sinners and why?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 32:1
OPTION 2: Proverbs 14:26-27
OPTION 3: Matthew 5:38-39
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Mark 2 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Mark 2
After several days outside the crowds of Capernaum, Jesus returns and many hear that He is back (2:1). Jesus is preaching the word (gospel) to those who have gathered in Peter's house and Mark records a miraculous event which took place. Four guys carry in a man, probably on a stretcher, who is paralyzed. Trying to make their way through the crowd proved impossible so they went to the roof of the house and broke through the ceiling in order to let down this man down (2:3-4). "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven you'" (2:5). In this society, sickness or disease was usually viewed as punishment for sins, although it always was not the case. This man most likely confessed his sin prior to being healed. Ultimately, Jesus released him from physical and spiritual bondage. The scribes (interpreters of the Old Testament) were standing by while all this was happening and viewed Jesus actions as blasphemous because only God has the power to forgive sin (2:6-7). They were correct in knowing that God alone had the power to forgive sin, but they did not believe Jesus was God. Jesus quickly picked up on their thinking, so He responds by asking some questions, "Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise, take up your bed and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins" (2:8-10). Jesus' healing of this man proved that His power was from God. God had not only given Jesus the power to bring physical healing, He had also given Him power to forgive sin. Jesus turns to the paralytic and commands him to "take up your [his] bed, and go to your house" (2:11). The man does as Jesus says and all those who were present were "amazed and glorified God, saying, 'We never saw anything like this!'' Jesus is seen in this passage as the compassionate Christ who has truly been given the power to heal, forgive, and bring glory to His Father. May we also see Christ as our healer, forgiver, and ultimately the One to whom all glory is due.

Mark 2:13-17
Jesus returns to the shores of the sea of Galilee where he is met by a multitude of people (2:13). He spends some time teaching them and then passes by a tax office where he sees Levi (also known as Matthew). Jesus asks Matthew to follow Him to which Matthew responds by obeying Jesus. The word follow indicates that Jesus is asking Matthew to become His disciple or accompany Him on His mission. This would be a huge change for Matthew since he was a tax collector. Also known as publicans, tax collectors were Jews who were responsible for making people pay taxes to the Roman government. They would often charge a little extra because the Roman officials permitted them to keep the additional money. These publicans were despised by the people and basically made their living by dishonest means. In essence, tax collectors were outcasts in society as well as in the religious community. So when Jesus called Matthew to follow Him, he abandoned his old life in order to embrace the new. In his actions, Matthew evidenced his conversion (faith and repentance).

After choosing to follow Christ, Matthew held a dinner in appreciation for Jesus and he invited many of his fellow publicans. Mark also records that Jesus and His disciples ate with sinners. These people would have been those who had little respect for Jewish traditions and therefore were considered filth by the Jews. So here is Jesus eating with the outcasts of society and enjoying fellowship with them, when the "scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners" (2:16). They cornered Jesus' disciples and said, "How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?" (2:16). Jesus overhears the scribes and Pharisees so He reacts by saying, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (2:17). The scribes and Pharisees thought they were above everyone else and depended on their good behavior to gain them favor with God. Ultimately, they refused to see themselves as sinners and therefore did not recognize their need for a savior, someone who could pay their sin debt. Instead of accepting Jesus as their Savior, they rejected His ways because His teachings were different than theirs. They were depending on their good works for a relationship with God, while Jesus taught a message of faith and repentance. At the heart of salvation is the fact that a person must see their sinfulness before God before they can accept His mercy. One who is sick realizes they will not get better until they see a doctor. Jesus used this to illustrate the way a person must approach Him in order to receive spiritual healing. Salvation from the bondage of sin is available to all those who are willing to admit their sin and turn in faith to Jesus' payment for sin on the cross.

Mark 2:18-22
Mark records another encounter Jesus had with the Pharisees. Remember, the Pharisees were those "religious people" who thought their good works gained them favor with God. They found security in following a list of rules instead of recognizing their sinfulness and repenting before a holy God. In the previous story, Mark documented the Pharisees' disgust with Jesus and His disciples for eating with publicans (tax collectors) and sinners. Instead of seeing Jesus' compassion for the outcasts, the religious people scorned Him for not practicing their form of spirituality. In this particular passage, the disciples of John (the ones who chose not to follow Jesus) and the Pharisees were fasting. Fasting was prescribed in the Old Testament, but only on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29-31). Of course these people had created their own list of rules for spirituality and it is possible that they fasted twice a week. Most of them did this out of duty, not out of a love for God. They were interested in proving their "spirituality" to others instead of humbling themselves before God. If you look at Jesus' sermon in Matthew 6:1-18, you'll see that the Pharisees only cared about flashing their good works in front of others. While these two groups of people are fasting they approach Jesus and ask Him why His disciples did not fast (2:18). Jesus responds with these words,” Can the friends of a bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them and they will fast in those days." Jesus is the bridegroom and those who follow Him are the bride. Since Jesus was with His disciples on the earth, there was no need for them to be sorrowful. Jesus' first advent should have been a joyful occasion just like a wedding. There was no need for mourning because Jesus was joined with those who had given themselves over to faith and repentance. However, Jesus was quick to say that soon there would be a time when He would not be on earth (prophecy of His coming death) and at that time His disciples would fast.

Jesus then begins to cut away at the Pharisees false belief system. He speaks in two parables saying, "No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins." The religious people of Jesus' day were trying to use the rituals and rules of the Old Testament law (as well as man-made rules) to bring salvation, but Jesus was declaring that it is not possible to obtain righteousness by practicing self-denial. The ceremonies, sacrifices, and rituals set forth in the law were to set God's people apart from the paganism around them but were never intended to bring salvation from sin. Jesus Christ would soon die for the sins of mankind and repentance and faith in His work would bring a release from the penalty of sin (death). The Old Testament law only exposed the impossibility of keeping all of God's commands, which should have driven everyone to an attitude of helplessness. The attitude of helplessness should result in repentance of sin and faith in God's promised Savior.

Instead of believing in man-made rules and regulations, we should trust that God has provided all that we need through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sin. Following repentance and faith we should not return to a system of "works spirituality." God does not love us based on our performance, but He loves us no matter what. Knowing that he loves us unconditionally should drive us to follow His ways because we know that they are best and meant to bring satisfaction to daily life.

Have you ever felt as if someone was following you and watching your every move? If so, you'll be able to relate with Mark's record of two encounters Jesus had with the Pharisees. Just as a reminder, the Pharisees were the supposed religious people of Jesus' day who took pride in obeying a list of man-made, burdensome rules. Many of the rules they followed were created out of a prideful heart which coveted attention from others. There was not really a desire to please God through their actions, but an overwhelming obsession with impressing others. I want to be clear, rules are not bad. God has many rules, but they always center on protecting us from harm, providing a good quality of living, and bringing pleasure to God. In this passage, Jesus' first encounter with the Pharisees happened when He and His disciples were walking through a grainfield on the Sabbath (the seventh day of the week which God declared a day of rest, also part of Ten Commandments). Over the years, many people had added rules to God's command to rest on the Sabbath and keep it holy. The Mosaic law did not permit working for profit on the Sabbath (Exodus 34:21), but it never said that a person could not pick grain to satisfy their hunger. So, when the disciples plucked some heads of grain to eat because they were hungry the Pharisees were there to call them out. Jesus responds by using an Old Testament story of David eating showbread from the temple which was only permissible for the priests to eat. God does not condemn David for eating because he was hungry. Furthermore, Jesus says, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath" (2:27-28). God created the Sabbath in order that man would have a day of rest from all his work. The Pharisees had simply converted the Sabbath into a burdensome day where people had to be careful in everything they did. This is not what God intended.