Hello Everyone, Grace and Peace of Jesus Christ to you,
We are in week two of our thirteen week journey through the Gospel of Mark. Last week I indicated that I would focus on what the Gospel of Mark can tell us about being “missional” people and churches. “Missional” means not being inwardly focused or overly concerned with our own wellbeing but being a church and a people who love others outside the walls of our church. “Missional” is about what we do to serve the people in our communities. “Missional” is also about connecting the people we serve to Jesus Christ. “Missional” is “mission” with “evangelism”. Our reading in Mark 2 has these two notions of being “missional”. More on that in a moment.
Please take a look at this video: “Evangelism in the 21st Century”.
Kimberly Reisman uses a metaphor of “embrace” for evangelism: opening arms, waiting, closing arms, and opening them again. A related metaphor might be the handshake: hand out, wait, close hand (maybe throwing the other hand on top), and opening hands.
Our focus scripture this week is Mark 2:1-28. Chapter 2 opens with Jesus’ fourth healing/cleansing. In chapter 1 we read about the man possessed by a demon, Simon’ mother-in-law’s fever, and a man with leprosy. This story is famous because four friends dig through a roof to lower their paralyzed buddy down to Jesus. When Jesus saw their (the friends) faith he forgave the paralyzed man’s sins. The local scribes were indignant because “only God can forgive” whereupon Jesus told the man to get up, which he did.
Jesus then goes to the lake, sees a tax collector named Levi, and calls him to “Follow Me.” Levi then throws a party for Jesus attended by other tax collectors and “sinners”. Again, the scribes are outraged for a man of faith does not associate with “those” people. Jesus told them that healthy people don’t need a doctor but sick people do, saying, “I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
The scribes and Pharisees begin to step up their challenge to Jesus’ authority. They want to know why the disciples don’t fast as the Pharisees and the followers of John the Baptist do. Jesus said that they need to party with the bridegroom while the bridegroom was still there. They then challenge Jesus on interpreting the Sabbath, because the disciples plucked grain and ate it on a Sabbath. Jesus’ reply was that Sabbath was given for humans and not the other way around.
The two missional moments? It happens when Jesus heals the paralyzed man and when he tells Levi to “Follow me” which leads to the party. Our we willing to help others in their need where they are and are we willing to have a relationship with “sinners” and their friends at their place?
Questions to ponder:
1. Can sins lead to paralysis? Can forgiving sins heal paralysis?
2. Are you willing to be seen eating and cavorting with “sinners”? (Remember, when you talk to me you are talking to a sinner.)
3. What do you think about when you hear the phrase “Son of Man”?
4. Who is Jesus’ most potent adversary, demons, disease, and paralysis or humanity?
The Lectionary Readings for this week are:
1 Samuel 3:1-20 – The boy Samuel is living with the priest Eli. God calls Samuel but Samuel mistakes it for Eli. Eli then tells Samuel how to respond. When he does, God tells the boy about what will happen to Eli and Eli’s sons.
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 – A psalm about the inescapability of God, who knows us, surrounds us, and is wherever we are.
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 – This can be a disturbing passage. First, “all things are lawful”, as Paul seems to be quoting the Corinthians. However, not all things are beneficial. Paul then writes about fornication (sexual intercourse outside of marriage) and tell the Corinthians to “stop it”. It seems that some in the Corinthian church were being sexually promiscuous because they thought all things were lawful. Paul says our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we should glorify God with our bodies.
John 1:43-51 – After Andrew and Simon follow Jesus, Jesus calls Philip to follow. Philip in turn finds Nathanael and asks him to check out Jesus.
May your week be blest by the presence of “tax collectors and sinners” as you serve God by serving others.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor