Bad News For ‘Good People’ – Mark 2:13-3:6

By John Bellingham on June 14, 2015
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Bad News for ‘Good’ People

Mark 2:13–3:6

I.  Fraternizing with Sinners (vv. 13-17)

  1. Calling of Levi the Tax Collector (aka ‘Matthew’)
    1. A lucrative, but morally shady job
    2. Tax collectors were despised by their fellow Jews and considered to be traitors
    3. Matthew followed Jesus at great personal cost
  2. Dinner at Matthew’s House
    1. Matthew introduces Jesus to his friends
    2. The fact that Jesus is associating with ‘sinners’ scandalizes the Religious Establishment
      • Worried about contamination
      • Puffed up with self-righteous pride
    3. Jesus rebukes the self-righteous Pharisees
      • A doctor can only help those who recognize their condition– bad news for ‘good’ people
      •  “It is as senseless for Jesus to shun tax collectors and sinners as for a doctor to shun the sick.”  – James Edwards

Application:  We Christians must learn how to be ‘in the world but not of it’!   Jesus was not afraid to associate with ‘sinners’ and neither should we, providing that our motives are right.  We do not associate with worldly people so that we might embrace/excuse their values, but in order that they might be exposed to the love & truth of Jesus Christ.

II.  Disregarding Rabbinic Tradition (2:18-3:6)

  1. A Dispute about Fasting (2:18-22)
    1. The Torah only requires fasting before the Day of Atonement – Leviticus 23:26-28
    2. Rabbinic Tradition required fasting twice/ week – Monday and Thursday (cf. Lk 18:12)
    3. Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ ‘legalism’
      1. Wedding Imagery
        1. Pharisees out of step with God’s plan – mourning when it was time to rejoice!
        2. Bride/ Groom imagery is an Old Testament image of God and Israel – used in NT of Jesus and the Church
      2. Cloth Patch/ Wineskin Imagery
        1. Jesus didn’t come to ‘patch up’ tattered up old Judaism.  He came to bring something new – a New Covenant!

Application:   Learn to discern the difference between Biblical commands and human traditions.   Biblical Christianity is not a new ‘patch’ that we add to a moralistic religion – it is the life transforming good news of God’s grace in Jesus Christ!

  1. Disputes About the Sabbath  (2:22 – 3:6)
    1. Plucking Grain on the Sabbath
      1. Doubtful whether this actually violated the Law, or just the traditions of Judaism
      2. Jesus gives a Biblical example to show that human need takes precedent over rigid law-keeping  (1 Sam 21)
    2. Healing on the Sabbath
      1. Pharisees exploit a man to ensnare Jesus – moral and spiritual bankruptcy!
      2. Jesus takes the opportunity to extend mercy and to expose their wickedness

Application:  The Pharisees missed the point of God’s instruction completely!  Do we sometimes miss the point too as Christians??   Is Biblical/ doctrinal orthodoxy a badge of pride that puffs us up, or is it a means to a greater end?   Do we sometimes carelessly walk over people to further our own agenda without considering their desperate need for Jesus and their value to God?

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