Thursday, January 2, 2014

January 2 - Mark 2

Today's reading in our daily plan is Mark 2. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • As the chapter unfolds, we see several men doing whatever they can to help their paralyzed friend meet Jesus.  Not only does Jesus heal the man, but he forgives his sins as well.  This was another reminder to all watching that Jesus was the Son of God. 
  • As Jesus leaves Capernaum, we see him ask Levi (also known as Matthew) to be one of his disciples. Levi was a corrupt Jew who had betrayed his own people as tax collector, siding with the Roman government. That evening Jesus attends a dinner at Levi's house, in which many corrupt and "unsavory" characters are invited as well. This angers the Pharisees (the religious leaders of the day) because they do not understand how anyone of religious standing would be caught dead with any of these people. Jesus reminds them that he came to help the sinner.
  • We then see the Pharisees continue to harass Jesus and his followers for supposedly breaking Old Testament laws. Jesus' disciples were not fasting (fasting is a discipline involving abstaining from food and/or drink for a period of time to meditate and pray). He reminds them that fasting is unnecessary at that moment because he is right there with them. 
  • Jesus uses an analogy about wineskins to make the point that he is the fulfillment of the law, and that what's important is keeping the heart of the law, not the letter of the law.
  • This point is driven further on the Sabbath, a day of complete rest, when Jesus and his disciples pick up grain from a nearby field.  It was unlawful to do anything on the Sabbath, including prepare food.  Jesus reminds the angry Pharisees that the Sabbath law mentioned in the Old Testament was meant to help men find rest and solitude, not as a list of things they can and cannot do.

SO WHAT? 
(What are the underlying principles?)
  • We need to do whatever it takes to get to Jesus, and to get our friends to Jesus.
  • Just like Levi, we are not beyond the love and forgiveness of God. Jesus came to help all of us sinners find our way back to God. It doesn't matter what you've done, God is willing and able to forgive if you just ask.
  • Although we should strive to live holy lives for God, we always need to remember that Jesus is the point. As Christians we want to obey God's laws because we love Jesus with our whole heart and we are grateful for all He has done for us, not because we are attempting to follow some law for law's sake.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Think about the key underlying principles in this passage. What one do you most need to apply right now? 
  • Are you seeking God with all your heart or are you holding back?  Be like Levi and let your past life go.
  • Do you need to help a friend on their spiritual journey? Have you shared the love of Jesus with them? 
  • Are you choosing to live a holy life because you love God or because you think it makes you better than everyone else?  Check your heart and motives today.