Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mark 2 - Healing and Hassling

LINK: Mark 2

BACKGROUND


39. Jesus heals a paralyzed man: Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26

Jesus continues to demonstrate His authority. Apparently, the illness of the paralytic was a result of his sin. Only God could forgive sins (Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21). So, He was making a very bold statement about His divinity in this passage by forgiving the man's sin. 
I had always been confused about saying He has power to forgive sins but then saying "rise, take up your pallet and walk" instead until I read Luke 5:24 in the Message version:
Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both.…” He now spoke directly to the paraplegic: “Get up. Take your bedroll and go home.” (Luke 5:24   
Of course, this enraged the religious leaders and caused them to begin to oppose Jesus. Jesus knew their thoughts (another example of His divinity) and questioned them. The religious leaders may not have been impressed, but the crowd was filled with awe! 

40. Jesus eats with sinners at Matthew's house: Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 2:13-17, Luke 5:27-32


This is the story of the calling of the author of the gospel of Matthew (also called Levi). He was a tax-collector but left this occupation to follow Him. Jesus accepted people from every level of society, even tax collectors and sinners.

Jesus was not going to follow the tradition of the Pharisees, but He was going to go to those who KNEW they had need because they were sinners. The Pharisees followed tradition without any sort of compassion for those who were spiritually sick.


41. Religious leaders ask Jesus about fasting: Matthew 9:14-17, Mark 2:18-22, Luke 5:33-39

John's disciples wanted to know why Jesus' disciples did not observe the tradition of the fast.  Pious Jews fasted on a regular basis as a sign of repentance and in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.  Jesus was saying there was no need to fast because the Messiah had already come! It was a time for feasting and celebration rather than fasting. Jesus was inaugurating something new by leading them out of Judaism and into the kingdom based on a relationship with the King (Him) and pursuing His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). 

By the way, there was really only one prescribed fast in the Old Testament, and that was during the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23), but it was often practiced by the people (Remember Anna who served God by fasting and prayer in the temple from Luke 2?).


45. The disciples pick wheat on the Sabbath: Matthew 12:1-8, Mark 2:23-38, Luke 6:1-5

According to Deuteronomy 23:25, people were allowed to pick grain from a neighbor's field, orchard, or vineyard as they passed by, but the Pharisees, with their legalistic rabbinic tradition, said that this was the same as reaping, threshing, winnowing, and preparing food which were all forbidden on the Sabbath.  When Jesus' disciples picked grain, this led to their questioning, and Jesus took the Pharisees to the Word of God when "God's anointed" (David) and his men had eaten the loaves of bread in the tabernacle. Jesus was saying He was God's new Anointed One and Lord of the Sabbath with authority over all matters related to the Law. 

For his Jewish audience, Matthew quotes Hosea 6:6 again (Matthew 9:13). According to Warren Wiersbe:
The Sabbath law was given to Israel as a mark of her relationship to God (Exodus 20:9-11; 31:13-17; Nehemiah 9:12-15). But it was also an act of mercy for both man and beast, to give them needed rest each week. Any religious law that is contrary to mercy and the care of nature should be looked on with suspicion. (The Bible Exposition Commentary, Matthew 12:1)
Jesus was getting to the heart of the matter. It is not what we do on the outside that matters but on the inside. 

REFLECTION

It is funny that I am writing this today since January is the month of fasting and prayer for the churches in our valley! So, I did a week long fast the first week of January and am skipping lunch and snacks between breakfast and dinner during weeks two and three and doing a total fast with my Kingdom Community the last week. 

Jesus is not saying that fasting is wrong here. In fact, in Matthew 6 he assumes people will be fasting by saying, "Whenever you fast . . . " It is not a commandment because Jesus was more about getting to the heart of the matter rather than doing the outward "pious act."

I love to fast. It helps me focus on the Lord and not be distracted by meal preparation, planning, and eating. I also know that when it is not of the Lord, it is a PAIN.  Doing anything in the flesh is not a good idea.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that I really value in my life. I hope you will consider it for yours too.

APPLICATION

Read about fasting from the book, Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster:

"Fasting" (p. 42-50)

(I heartily recommend the entire book. My husband and I spent a delightful weekend in 2015 with Richard and his son. They discussed the application of all the disciplines. As a result of editing this post in 2016, I started a Celebration of Discipline group using the DVD series, and we have practiced the disciplines of each chapter. It has been really fun!)

Here are two chapters from:

The Fasting Journey

PRAYER

Lord, help us to do all things with an eye toward deepening our relationship with and glorifying YOU! Amen. 
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