Such Faith

Thursday, August 21, 2014, 5:11 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Courageous!” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Mark 2:1-17 (NASB).

Faith vs. Disbelief

When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

I love the faith of the paralytic, and of these people who brought him to Jesus! Those who brought the paralytic to Jesus had faith, yet not for themselves, but for another human being. That’s awesome! They didn’t get discouraged just because all the odds seemed against them. They didn’t give up and go home, and say, “Oh well, I guess it was not meant to be.” They were on a mission, and the mission was to see Jesus, and to have him heal the paralytic. They did not give up until they completed their mission. Now, that is perseverance! And, they didn’t seem all that concerned about what people might think about them, either. They figured out a way to get to Jesus, and they followed through with their mission. As a result, the paralytic was healed of his condition, and he was forgiven his sins. Amen! Even when all looked hopeless, they persevered. And, they reaped the benefits.

Yet, not everyone had faith. Some teachers of the law were sitting there observing all that had just taken place. Instead of rejoicing with the man that his sins had just been forgiven, they accused Jesus of blasphemy. Basically, they were saying that Jesus was claiming to be God, and they did not believe he was God. Yet, to show that Jesus did have the authority to forgive sins, he told the man to get up, take his mat, and go home. And, the man did what Jesus told him to do. Many (or all) who were there praised God for this miracle.

This story sets a great example for us, I believe, in faith and perseverance. Whenever we step out in faith, and believe God for something in our lives, we are likely to be faced with enormous obstacles and opposition. Yet, if we know this is of God, and we know it is in line with his word, then we should continue on in faith and not give up hope just because we hit some road bumps along the way, or just because we face some opposition. If God is in it, he can make a way where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see. We just have to continue to trust him and to obey, “for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Amen!

The Sick and Sinners

And He went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.

As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.

And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

I hear many professing Christians, and even church leaders, misquote or misuse this passage of scripture to excuse away sinful and ungodly associations. Yet, Jesus did not just “hang out” with people living sinful lifestyles. He did not immerse himself in the culture. First off, Jesus was at Levi’s house because he had called Levi, a tax collector, to follow him, and Levi got up and followed Jesus. As well, the passage states that many “tax collectors and sinners” ate with Jesus and his disciples, “for there were many who followed him.”

Now, whether or not these many were true followers of Jesus Christ, at this point, I do not know, but the point is that they were seeking Jesus. Another point here worthy of consideration is that the Pharisees were being hypocritical in their designation of this group of people as somehow inferior to them or to designate their sins as somehow worse than their own. Evidently tax collectors were known for their dishonesty, and “sinners” may have been a term used for those who participated in specific and/or obvious sins. Yet, Jesus often chided the Pharisees and teachers of the law for their outward appearances of righteousness, but how they were really hypocrites, for they were truly full of wickedness.

So, when Jesus responded by saying that it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, and that he did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, I don’t believe he was using the terms “healthy” and “righteous” in the truest sense of those words, based upon the context of this passage. I believe his point to the teachers of the law and to the Pharisees was that these “tax collectors and sinners” were more honorable than the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, for they, at least, knew that they needed help, and they were willing to, at least, come and see who Jesus truly was.

If we don’t see that we are sick or we don’t acknowledge that we are sinners (see 1 Jn. 1), then we can’t be healed. The Pharisees thought they were righteous and spiritually healthy in their own merit because they followed a set of mostly man-made rules and regulations. They were so filled with pride that they did not recognize their own sickness and sinfulness. So, Jesus had no ministry to them. Yet, these who followed him appeared willing to hear what he had to say, which then brings me to my last point here.

Many who misuse this passage and try to justify hanging out with the ungodly of this world, and who make excuses for having close associations with those living sinful lifestyles, think that Jesus just hung out with these people, as though he was just being best buddies with them. Yet, Jesus makes it quite clear that he was on a mission. His goal in dining with these people was to bring them to salvation. He was intentional in what he did.

And, I don’t believe he hung out with them for two years before he told them the truth of salvation, either, which is another lie being spread today that we should build relationships with the ungodly of this world for a long period of time before we try to present the gospel to them. So many look for any excuse they can find to not share Christ with others and to continue in their own willful sinful lifestyles. But, the lies don’t work. Jesus ate with these people who were regarded as worse sinners than everyone else, because they followed him, and it appears they both recognized their own sinfulness (and sickness) and they were willing to hear what Jesus had to say to them about how they could be healed. Amen!

Courageous! / An Original Work / December 24, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

The Word of God throughout taught.
Some people heard, but did doubt.
Still others had faith in Christ.
By grace He purified them.

They turned from sin
And they obeyed Christ.
He opened up their blinded eyesight;
Turned them from darkness
To the true Light;
Forgave their sin by His might.

He strengthened them in their faith.
He said, “Remain my faithful.”
He called them to obedience.
By faith, they were so grateful.

By faith, they were to follow Jesus;
To daily sit and listen to Him;
To have such faith
That mountains could move;
To love those whom He gave them.

Be on your guard; courageous.
Stand firm in faith. Be thankful.
Take up the shield of your faith;
Protect against all evil.

Do not move from
The hope that you have.
Your faith in Jesus let it endure.
Hold to the truth;
Your conscience be clear.
Endure with perseverance.