Gracious God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all thanks to You for Your many blessings.
Read Mark 2:13-17
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The Christian ideal has not be tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult: and left untried” (G. K. Chesterton, 1874–1936).
One of the extraordinary things about Jesus is how close he was to the Pharisees. There were other religious groups in Judaism at the time but none paid so much attention to Jesus as the Pharisees. Sometimes, they sought to protect him (Luke 13:31). Jesus even recommended that people listen to their teachings (Matt. 23:2,3). His relationship with them is more complex than the “them and us” version we have sometimes heard. Jesus may refer to them as “righteous” (17) without irony or sarcasm.
However, Jesus does have disagreements with them, as in this story. The Pharisees seek righteousness and teach obedience to the Law. Jesus seeks righteousness and teaches obedience to his commands. Both teach righteousness because they know that when God judges he will reward the righteous with life and blessing and punish the unrighteous. With the similarity of their religious beliefs, it is no wonder that the Pharisees hung around Jesus.
However, Jesus took a different approach to teaching. His approach to the holiness of the group was to get as many unholy people in it as possible, to teach them righteousness. He was not going soft, because his teachings were even stricter than those of the Pharisees—for example, on divorce. He even invited unholy people into his inner circle. This was not so that they could teach less-than-holy ways. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus never lets the disciples teach: he tells them to proclaim judgment, heal and exorcise—but not to teach. In Matthew, he only commissions them to teach once he has taught them (Matt. 28:18–20).
Jesus never went soft on holiness. Instead he comes alongside people and teaches them not only how to live but also how to come alongside others and help them to live.
PRAY • Lord, I am deeply challenged today to be holy in my living and to reach out to others in Your name. I am solely dependent on You, Lord.