Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people
do. I have come not to call those who think they
are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.
Mark 2:17 (NLT)
The heading for Mark 2 in my NLT Bible is Controversy Stories. These are stories that caused people to be offended or unsure of what to think about Jesus. Jesus was and is a stumbling block to those who do not know Him.
First Jesus heals a paralyzed man. Some friends brought this paralyzed man to Jesus and lowered him through the roof because it was so crowded. V.5 says, “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My child your sins are forgiven.’” This was understood by those listening that Jesus was claiming divine authority. This caused quite a stir, but Jesus was aware of what they were thinking and whispering among themselves. He told them he would prove He had authority to forgive sins by also healing the man. And He did. The man got up and walked and the crowd was amazed!
Second story happened when Jesus went to the lakeshore to teach the crowds who came to Him. As He was walking along, He saw Levi who was a tax collector so He invited him to be His disciple. And just like that, Levi followed Jesus. When the Pharisees caught wind that Levi had invited Jesus and the disciples to his house for dinner, they were offended and outraged. “Why does he eat with such scum?” they asked the disciples. That’s when Jesus made it clear why He had come. It wasn’t for the ones who thought they were righteous, but for the ones who knew they were sinners. Tax collectors, like Levi (also known as Matthew) and Zacchaeus who we talked about last week, were not well thought of. The Pharisees who thought they were better than tax collectors, could hardly stand the thought that Jesus would waste time on them.
A third controversial story had to do with fasting. Fasting was an important practice to the religious leaders and they thought it wrong that Jesus didn’t fast nor did His disciples. How could Jesus possibly be the Messiah when He broke all the important rules about fasting, hanging out with sinners, and in the next story, working on the Sabbath. Jesus was not a people pleaser, He didn’t do things just to make someone happy. Jesus operated in truth and did what He saw His Father doing.
The truth is Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10) And they can’t come to Jesus unless the Father draws them (John 6:44). I believe the Father is drawing our prodigals now. We are praying in accordance with His will. He is not willing that anyone perish but that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But they gave the enemy an opening and He took advantage. Now when they think about or hear the name of Jesus, He is a stumbling block. They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they are destined for (1 Peter 2:8). The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength 1 Corinthians 1:25). In short, God is bigger than our prodigals. And since Jesus came to seek out the lost…those who have turned away and those who have never turned to Him, we can rest in the knowledge that God the Father is waiting with open arms and has not given up on them. He is drawing them. Still, it is their choice, so we must pray and keep praying.
I have loved you with an everlasting love. You who are praying and not giving up, are partnering with Me. Don’t forget I am the One who changes hearts and I am the One who is drawing them to Myself. You will forget this when you take your eyes off of Me for too long. Yes, you have a responsibility to pray for ___________ but you also have been commanded to love Me with all your heart and soul and might. This is where you will find your strength to endure and be patient. I have much to teach you during this time so don’t miss it by focusing solely on the problem. I will take care of the problem. The “problem” is not a problem for Me. You think, “Why does it take so long? Why can’t You just do whatever it will take right now?” My child, it is not for you to know all the whys. It is for you to learn to trust Me and live by faith. Just know that My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts. I am not torturing you or playing games. I know what is best. Will you trust Me with __________?