The Person of Christ – Part Two – Mark 2:1-28

 

 

So far we have seen the Person of Jesus revealed as Preacher (Mark 1:14-15), Disciple Maker (Mark 1:16-20), Teacher (Mark 1:21-22), Liberator (Mark 1:23-28), Ready Servant (Mark 1:29-31), Man of prayer (Mark 1:32-39), doer of the impossible (Mark 1:40-45). And we have said that we should seek in prayer for the Holy Spirit to work these same types of characteristics into our lives.

 

As we now continue on into the second chapter of Mark, we will see Jesus Person revealed as Forgiver of Sins (Mark 2:1-12), Seeker of the Lost (Mark 2:13-22), and Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-28).

 

Jesus the Forgiver of Sins

 

Mark 2:1-12 – “And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house.2 Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them.3 Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men.4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”8 But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?9 “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’?10 “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic,11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”  [1]

“The house,” referred to here may be Peter’s house (Mark 1:29), which was located in Capernaum (2:1). This house was jam-packed with people so much so that “there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door” (2:2a). At this point in Jesus’ ministry He was very popular and we see Jesus seize upon the opportunity to be the Preacher as it says, “He preached the word to them” (2:2b).

When we read and study this scene we learn a great deal about the Person of Jesus and those He ministered to. Let’s look at Jesus and His interaction with the three groups of people in this scene.

 

Five Friends with a Burden to See Jesus

Mark 2:3-5 – “Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men.4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”  [2]

In Mark 2:3 we are introduced to five friends, one of whom is a physically incapacitated paralytic unable to get around on his own. We aren’t told whether or not the paralysis of the one man is a birth defect or something due to a later injury or sickness. But what we are told tells us a lot about friends with a burden to see Jesus. There is a parallel here. Any true friend wants their other friends to come to Jesus. There is an application for us to grasp from the observations of the efforts of these five friends.

First, the paralytic friend needed help to come to Jesus (2:3a). He was helpless and could not get to Jesus on his own. He needed friends to help him. In a sense we are all helpless before we come to Jesus because we can’t come to Jesus on our own. God makes a way for us to come to His only Son (John 6:44; Romans 3:10,23; Ephesians 2:8-9). God, in this instant, put it on the heart of his friends to bring him to Jesus. God had also put it in the heart of this paralytic to be interested in and open to going to Jesus with his problem of paralysis. Do you have an unsaved friend who needs Jesus?  Pray the Lord speak to his heart and draw him to the Lord. And then make every effort to bring him to Jesus.

Second, the friends focused on the need to get to Jesus; they were on a mission (2:3b). All five of the friends knew Jesus was the answer to their fallen friends predicament of paralysis. They might not have fully understood everything about Jesus, but they felt strongly enough to make a Herculean effort to bring their friend to Jesus. They saw hope for their friend in the Person of Jesus.

Third, their love for their friend would not permit them to be deterred by the crowd (2:4a). As they brought their friend to the packed house where Jesus was, the blocked passageway at the door must have momentarily put them off. Some who were trying to get into the house to see Jesus probably looked at them as much as to say, “Ha! We are well and can’t get in to see Jesus, how do you expect to get in to see Him with a paralyzed friend?” They were not deterred however. They didn’t let the obstacle of the crowds keep them from bringing their friend to Jesus. How about you, are you deterred from bringing your friend to Jesus because of the crowds, the peer pressures, persecution, pessimism, or mere physical inconvenience? These four friends were not deterred by any of that, their love for their friend and desire to get him to Jesus motivated them to overcome the crowd and even physical obstacles. What deters you from bringing your friend to Jesus? How persistent and powerful is your love to get your friend to Jesus? That is a question we should all be asking ourselves regarding our unsaved friends and family members.

Fourth, they were creative, industrious and persistent to find a way to bring their friend to Jesus (2:4b). These friends were so determined to get their friend in to see Jesus that they were willing to literally carry him up onto the roof, break through the roof and lower him down. Now think about this for a moment, they climbed up on someone else’s house and dug a hole in the roof, that took boldness and faith! There are times when you just can’t go the conventional route to get your friends to Jesus. They summoned all their energies of creativity and industry; they pushed themselves to the limit to get their friend to Jesus. These were really good friends. Everyone needs friends like that. What kind of a friend are you? Would you sacrifice and boldly express your faith to bring a friend to Jesus?

Fifth, they didn’t stop until they broke through to Jesus (2:4c). These friends didn’t give up, they were persistent and found a way to bring their friend to Jesus. Nothing was going to stop them from getting their friend to Jesus. How about you, have you given up on a friend you once wanted to bring to Jesus? The breakthrough to Jesus may be right around the corner, or just below you as in the case of these friends.

Sixth, all of these efforts were evidence of their faith in Jesus (2:5a). It says that Jesus “saw their faith” (Greek PISTIS - Strong’s #4102). This word is commonly used in the New Testament to express, “conviction . . . reliance upon Christ for salvation; . . . constancy in such profession; . . . assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.” [3]  All their efforts were rooted in a belief that Jesus had what their friend needed. They saw and believed Jesus was the solution to their friend’s problem. They had faith enough to bring their friend to Jesus and Jesus acknowledged as much.

Why did these friends bring their fallen friend to Jesus? Is it right to assume that they brought their friend only to see that he receive physical healing? Does it say that that was their only motive? No, it doesn’t say that. What we do know is that Jesus was preaching the word to the people (2:2). Yes, Jesus healed many, but His teaching was pretty astonishing too! (Mark 1:22). It is likely that these four friends were bringing their fallen friend to Jesus for a healing, but it could also be true that they wanted their friend to hear what Jesus was teaching too.

We don’t know if these friends had heard and responded to the gospel, mark does not tell us that. We don’t know if the paralyzed friend was saved or not either. But what is interesting is, well think of it, if you were only interested in getting a physical healing for your friend, you were blocked at the door of the house where Jesus was, you then think of a way to get him up to the roof, dig through the roof, lower your friend down and then hear Jesus say, “Son, your sins are forgiven you,” well wouldn’t you be a bit confused? Maybe you’d try to clarify why you brought your friend to Jesus. Maybe you’d try to clear it up with Jesus saying, “No, no Jesus, we didn’t come for sins to be forgiveness, we want you to heal our friend.” They might have been disappointed when Jesus did not immediately heal their friend but only forgave him. “Man,” they might have thought, “ here we do all this work to bring our pal Joe to Jesus for healing and all this Man does is forgive him, what a bummer!” But we see no such disappointment or surprise from the friends when Jesus pronounces forgiveness.

I think it is possible that these friends may well indeed have brought their friend to Jesus for a physical healing, but they also might have brought him to Jesus for much more than that, perhaps to hear the gospel Jesus was preaching. What’s your motive for bringing your friends to Jesus? Are you mostly concerned with their physical needs, or their eternal spiritual needs?

Seventh, Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic (2:5b). In the Old Testament illness and death were associated with the human sinful condition and healing was associated with the forgiveness of sin (2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 41:4; 103:3; 147:3; Isaiah 19:22; 38:16-17; Jeremiah 3:22; Hosea 14:4). This may be in part why when Jesus said, “Son, your sins are forgiven you,” that those hearing this may have associated Jesus’ words with the way to receive physical healing. But Jesus knew that there was a far greater need in the paralytic, He needed to be forgiven of his sins. The physical is temporal; the spiritual is eternal. Jesus was preaching the word and applied His preaching to the one lowered before Him when He saw their faith. Jesus forgives those who come to Him in faith. That is a promise always stands (Romans 4:5-8). Bring your friend to Jesus and He will forgive them when they put their faith in Him.

Second-Guessing Scribes

Mark 2:6-7 – “And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”  [4]

The scribes were those who taught the Law of God and when Jesus uttered the words, “Son, your sins are forgiven you” they were offended. They saw what Jesus said as a presumptuous act and blasphemous offense toward God who alone can forgive sins. They were right in that regard, God alone can forgiven sins. The following verses tell us that:

  • Exodus 34:6-9 – “And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,7 “keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”8 So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.9 Then he said, “If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance.”  [5]
  • Psalm 103:1-3 – “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,”  [6]
  • Psalm 130:4 – “But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.”  [7]
  • Isaiah 43:25 - “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.”  [8]
  • Isaiah 44:22 – “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”  [9]
  • Daniel 9:9 - “To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.”  [10]
  • Micah 7:18 – “Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy.”  [11]

These verses tell us that God alone forgives sin. No mere man has authority to forgive sin because all sin is ultimately against God (Psalm 51:4). It is true, God alone can and has the authority to forgive sins.

Indeed, the scribes had a biblical basis to see such a statement of Jesus as possible grounds for death for stoning (Leviticus 24:15-16). Later, the charges brought against Jesus would include blasphemy (Mark 14:61-64). If Jesus were a mere man, then he would have been guilty of speaking presumptuously and even blasphemously. But herein is the revelation of the Person of Jesus. Why did Jesus, at such risk, take such authority unto Himself and pronounce the sins of this paralyzed man forgiven? Because Jesus is God, God in the flesh (John 1:1-2,14). But how could Jesus prove this? Let’s see.

Jesus, the Forgiver of Sins, God

Mark 2:8-12 – “But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?9 “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’?10 “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic,11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”  [12]

Jesus could see that the scribes were not accepting of His words and He confronted their resistance and in the process demonstrated an incredibly revealing proof of Who He was and is. Jesus responded by asking them why they were thinking the way they were. He might have been implying that He would not have mead such an assertion about forgiving sins unless He could PROVE it to them. But how could He do that, anyone can say the words, “Your sins are forgiven you, . . . ’  You see, since human beings cannot see the heart, and “sins” is an intangible metaphysical concept that you can’t see or touch, then how can you prove that sins are actually forgiven? You prove it by doing something that supernaturally verifies what you say. It’s easy to rely on words simply saying, “Your sins are forgiven you, . . . ’” but it is quite another thing to literally heal someone to show that His sins have been forgiven. A healing is tangible, visible proof, it backs up what is being said and that is why Jesus used healing here to prove, that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins.” (2:10). Jesus then tells the paralytic to rise up and walk and immediately, (there’s that action word again) he gets up and walks out with his bed in the presence of all of them. Jesus just blew them all away. All they could do in amazement was glorify God and comment, “We never saw anything like this!”  (2:11-12). Well of course they had never seen anything like that; God had never walked among them like Jesus was now doing!

Now let’s put all of this together to see what is being revealed and asserted about the Person of Jesus. The scribes were right in saying that God alone has authority and power to forgive sins. Jesus claimed that authority and connected it to the healing of the paralytic as verification of His authority. Jesus healed the one whose sins He pronounced forgiven showing He had such authority and showing that He is God. God alone can forgives sins, Jesus forgave sins, and therefore Jesus is God. An incredible evidence for the deity of Jesus!

Forgiving Like Jesus - A Word On Christlike Forgiveness

Jesus is our example in forgiveness. Jesus forgives, so should we. Why is it important that we forgive like Jesus?

First, our relationships with others affect our relationship with God. If we harbor unforgivness toward others, it will inevitably affect our relationship with God.  G. Campbell Morgan once stated:

God seeks and values the gifts we bring Him--gifts of praise, thanksgiving, service, and material offerings. In all such giving at the altar we enter into the highest experiences of fellowship. But the gift is acceptable to God in the measure to which the one who offers it is in fellowship with Him in character and conduct; and the test of this is in our relationships with our fellow men. We are thus charged to postpone giving to God until right relationships are established with others. Could the neglect of this be the explanation of the barrenness of our worship? (Matthew 5:24) 

God has ordained that our vertical relationship with Him be connected to our horizontal relationships with people. If you look at the Ten Commandments he first four commandments are vertical, they deal with our relationship with God, the last six commandments deal with horizontal human relationships. That is no accident. Sin in our human relationships affects our relationship with God.

Second, unforgivness affects our personal contact with Jesus in prayer. We have seen the Jesus was a Man of prayer and concluded that therefore, we ought to be people of prayer too. When we look at Jesus model prayer, (often referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer”) there is something very interesting to take note of. Have you noticed that in Jesus’ model outline prayer for the disciples that there are no singular pronouns, there are only plural pronouns like “our,” and, “us” (Matthew 6:9,11,12,13). This prayer is meant to bring us not only close to God the Father but reconcile us to people as well. You cannot have the former without the later. Outstanding resentments or unforgivness in one’s heart when they come to God is like a cancer that eats away at the heart. That is why Jesus said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15 “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  (Matthew 6:14-15). The personal contact with God that we experience in prayer serves as an incentive to be reconciled with people before God. If you are going to know Jesus in a deep personal way, you need to be a person who is willing to forgive like Jesus.

Third, forgiveness is a powerful force of God to reach the lost. Have you ever been wrongly accused and then stoned, (by rocks)? In the book of Acts we see one of the early disciples who experienced just that. Stephen was persecuted for being a Spirit-filled Christian and stoned. That is a pretty big injustice. Wrongly accused, and then have your life stolen away from you. How did he respond? Stephen responded like Jesus and forgave those who did him wrong. In Acts it states:

  • Acts 7:54-60 – “When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”  [13]

His accusing persecutors were cut to the heart, they were convicted of their sin, but they didn’t repent, they turned on Stephen and murdered him as they had murdered so many previous prophets and Jesus the Savior of the world (Acts 7:54-55, 57, 59-60).

But look at the blessing of God worked through Stephen’s Christlike forgiveness. This passage in Acts tells us of an important onlooker by the name of Saul. Saul (later to become Paul) heard and saw all of this and there can be little doubt that the testimony of Stephen and the way he died forgiving his attackers played a huge part in the eventual conversion of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 7:58; 9). Paul was used by God to spread the gospel of Christ throughout the world. God used Paul to write 14 of the 27 New Testament epistles! God used Paul mightily, but He reached Paul with a mighty work of forgiveness in and though the life of Stephen.

The forgiveness Paul saw in Jesus and Stephen was instrumental in drawing him to God in Christ. He was completely changed from a vengeful persecutor of Christ and His followers to a disciple who forgave like Jesus and encouraged others to do the same. To the Ephesians Paul was inspired to write:

  • Ephesians 4:32 – “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”  [14]

We are exhorted to forgive like Jesus because forgiveness is foundational to what Jesus is all about.

Fourth, forgiveness is Christlike. Notice the fruit in Stephen’s life that flowed from his personal relationship with Jesus. We see in him the evidence of the work of the Spirit in that Stephen responds to his executioners with words that are almost identical to those of Jesus, Stephen responds like Jesus would in this situation.  Luke records in his gospel that on the cross Jesus said:

  • Luke 23:34 – “Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.”  [15]

Stephen, who had just summarized the patriarchal history in great detail in Acts 7, must have been acquainted with these words of Jesus too. And these words had a great impact on him as all of the word of God does (Hebrews 4:12). The Spirit brought those words of Jesus to his mind and gave him the strength to conform to the likeness of Jesus the Forgiver (Romans 8:29). Stephen walked as Jesus walked and followed in the steps of Jesus until the very end (1 John 2:6; 1 Peter 2:21). As Stephen peered into heaven and saw Jesus standing to welcome him home, any thought of revenge or bitterness or unforgivness quickly dissipated and his only thought became a desire that anyone, even those who were wronging him so severely, would be able to enter the glory which he himself was now entering. When you catch a glimpse of heaven and the Savior, all else melts away in His glow.  I wonder how much of our petty differences, resentments, bitterness and animosity towards others would melt away if we only had a heavenly perspective like Stephen did? That’s something to pray about!

Forgiveness is a powerful life-changing tool of God. Jesus forgave, so should we.

How Can We Forgive Like Jesus?

What then are we called to do? We need to get rid of resentment, bitterness, and unforgivness we might have toward others. We need to be open to reconciliation with others and seeing the truth in love established.  You might be thinking or saying, “Yeah, but you don’t know my situation, what that person did to me; it’s left scars both physical and emotional.” Every person who has ever taken a breath has at some time in their life experienced offense, hurt and pain in a relationship. Each person is tempted to see their predicament or circumstance as unique and perhaps, unforgivable. But the truth of the matter is that in our weakness and even initial unwillingness to forgive, God’s grace is sufficient (Romans 5; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). The Holy Spirit is able to help us in our weak unforgiving way (Romans 8:26-27).

When you are in a situation and you are finding it very difficult to forgive turn to Jesus and understand the following.

First, keeping your eyes on Jesus will help you to be able to forgive. Again in Acts 7, Stephen did not shout at or respond in vengeance against his accusers. He forgave them like Jesus. How was he able to do that? Stephen was able to forgive because He kept a heavenly Christ-centered perspective. Stephen was able to forgive because he kept his eyes on Jesus. That is the key (Acts 7:6). In all of this Stephen depended on Jesus to get him through; Stephens personal relationship with Jesus is very tangible, evident, real, true (7:59). He looked forward to going home to be with Jesus (see Philippians 1:21).

Second, unforgivness can rob us you of the peace God offers you. Unforgivness is like a thorn in our flesh, a nagging irritant, a constant pounding in our head and heart. Unforgivness is not stagnant but dynamic, malignant; it grows and spreads to all areas of our lives and even the lives of others (Hebrews 12:15). Unforgivness is just not worth it.

An example of forgiving like Jesus comes from the life of Corrie ten Boom, a concentration camp holocaust survivor.

“Corrie ten Boom, a World War II concentration camp survivor, told of not being able to forget a wrong that had been done to her. She had forgiven the person, but she kept rehashing the incident and so couldn't sleep. Finally Corrie cried out to God for help in putting the problem to rest. "His help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor," Corrie wrote, "to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks." "Up in the church tower," he said, nodding out the window, "is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there's a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we've been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn't be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They're just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down." "And so it proved to be. There were a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up in my conversations, but the force -- which was my willingness in the matter -- had gone out of them. They came less and less often and at the last stopped altogether: we can trust God not only above our emotions, but also above our thoughts." [16]

This leads us to our last point about forgiveness.

Third, forgiveness is the product of God’s love at work in us (1 Corinthians 13). The New Living Translation of 1 Corinthians 13:1, 4-6 states:

 

“If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. . . [17]Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. 6 It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”  [18]

 

When it says, “and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged,” that’s forgiveness. It is the power of God’s love in us that enables us to forgive like Jesus. The Holy Spirit imparts that love to us (Romans 5:5). Forgiveness is a work of God in us (Philippians 2:13).

 

Without love, whatever we do is a loud, harsh, annoying, even maddening GONG! Unforgivness in your life is a GONG! (Like the Lutheran pastor’s illustration to Ms. Ten Boom above). Unforgivness vaporizes love and it can keep you up at night. Unforgivness robs you of your peace. Unforgivness does not keep the unforgiven from getting away with something, it keeps you from experiencing the peace of God and peace with God in Christ. . We need love to relate to Jesus in a personal way, and to do so we need to forgive like Jesus does. Jesus was, is and always will be a Forgiver; therefore, we should be too.

 

MARK THAT ACTION:  Jesus is the Forgiver of Sins and Therefore God. We should receive His forgiveness, forgive others and bring others to Him for forgiveness.

We need to come to Jesus to have our sins forgiven. What sweet and precious words are those of Jesus to the sinner when He says, “Your sins are forgiven you.” Have your sins been forgiven by Jesus? Have you come to Him for forgiveness of your sins? Come now if you haven’t before? Come now if there is some outstanding sin in your life that needs His forgiveness. Do you have unforgivness in your heart toward someone? You need to ask the Lord to help you forgive like Jesus forgave. Do you have a friend who needs to experience the forgiveness of their sins and the new life Jesus offers? Have you been praying for them? Have you been asking the Lord to show you how to bring them to Jesus? Have you given up? Don’t give up; you may be on the cusp of breaking through with them to bring them to Jesus. Receive the forgiveness of sins Jesus offers and let nothing keep you from bringing others to Jesus to experience the same.

Jesus the Seeker of the Lost

Mark 2:13-22 – “Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them.14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him.16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” 18 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.20 “But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.21 “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse.22 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”  [19]

Jesus went out again by “the sea” meaning the Sea of Galilee and again a multitude gathered to Him so He took the opportunity, (Teacher that He was), to teach them (2:13). Jesus apparently taught while walking through the crowds of people and He came to the tax office.  Tax collectors were about as popular then as they are now, in fact tax collectors in Jesus’ day were despised and seen as opportunists appointed by the oppressive state to collect unjust taxes. The Roman Empire required certain tax revenue to be collected but allowed the tax collectors to get as much extra as they wanted from the people in the process. So the tax collectors used their governmental authority to extort money from the people in the form of taxes. This did not endear them to the people to say the least. Therefore, when Jesus told Levi the tax collector to follow Him it was not a move that would be looked upon favorably by the community (2:14).

Notice, Levi responds like a true disciple, he simply arises and follows the Lord. Again the immediate act of obedience so necessary in a disciple of the Lord. Now notice what we can learn about Jesus Person here as He and His sense of purpose are contrasted with the religious around Him.

First, Jesus used the intimacy of hospitality to reach the lost (2:15). Jesus went to diner at Levi’s house and naturally, tax collectors have other tax collectors for friends. At the diner table were Levi, some of his tax collector friends and other “sinners”  (2:15). There was apparently quite a large dinner crowd in attendance. Now don’t miss the significance of what is happening here. Levi, fresh from being called by the Lord, is already opening his home to be used by the Lord. As soon as He follows Jesus, he also reaches out to his friends to come and experience Jesus too. Hospitality is a fantastic means of reaching out to the lost. It provides an informal setting where people can be introduced to Jesus.

Second, the religious have no burden for the salvation of the lost, but are more concerned with external appearances (2:16). Now when the scribes and Pharisees see Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners they think its totally inappropriate. The religious have no burden for the lost. The religious are more concerned with appearance than the salvation of souls (2:16). Sinners can’t get saved unless someone has contact with them.

Note this, of the estimated 132 contacts of Jesus with people in the Gospels, 6 were in the Temple, 4 were in synagogues and 122 were in the world where people lived. We need to get out into the field and labor amongst the harvest of lost souls. [20] Pray that God would give you a heart for the lost.

This does not mean that to win sinners to the Lord we adopt their lifestyles or ways; it simply means we love them to Jesus. The love of the Lord working in and through you will be used by the Lord to draw the lost to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). And that love moves us to empathize with them (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Third, Jesus’ mission purpose was to call sinners to repent and follow Him (2:17). Jesus then tells the religious scribes and Pharisees that His whole purpose for coming is, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (2:17). That is the mission of Jesus, to call sinners to repent and follow Him. Notice too that Jesus does not call people to a mere ascent to His teachings that will have little to no impact on their lives. No, He calls people to “repent.” He calls them to make a 180 degree turn from their sin to Him. Jesus was calling sinners to a new life based on a change of heart worked by God in them (Philippians 2:13). The religious were missing this pivotal fact.

Fourth, the religious are often spiritually shortsighted because of their rigid ritualistic ways (2:18-20). Even though John the Baptist had by now been thrown in prison (1:14), some of his disciples chose to stay together. They and some Pharisees came directly to Jesus unlike the other scribes and Pharisees (2:16), which may indicate they are somewhat sincere in their inquiry. But their methodology was all wrong. They failed to recognize who Jesus was because they were caught up in their religious ritual. The Pharisees fasted regularly as a religious practice (2:18; Matthew 6:16-18; Luke 18:12). There is nothing wrong with fasting and Jesus even implies that the disciples would fast once He had ascended to heaven. Fasting aids in preparing the believer to interact with God. Jesus’ point was that the time for which they had been preparing by fasting was upon them and fasting was no longer necessary or appropriate, celebration was more in order. They were locked in the rigidity of a ritual and were missing the purpose of the ritual. The believer needs to not only go by the word but also go by the word in the Spirit according to the situation and time of circumstances (Romans 8:14; Psalm 119:1-5; 1 Corinthians 2:9-16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). We can be spiritually shortsighted so that we miss out on what God wants to do in the harvest field. John’s disciples were so into “fasting” that they were missing the glorious fulfillment for which they were fasting, Messiah’s arrival.

 

The Bible is very clear about the futility of religious self-reliant efforts to try to live in a way pleasing to God. Human religious efforts to please God actually “cheat” people of the real and true living experience that can be had with Jesus (Colossians 2:6-10, 18-23). Jesus calls us to a relationship with Him, not a religion about Him.

 

Fifth, Jesus knew His mission would result in His being “taken away” (2:20). Jesus knew from the very beginning of His life and ministry that He would eventually be rejected and “taken away” from these followers for a time. It would all be part of His mission to be a “ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). While He was with them, it was time to fellowship and enjoy one another and preach and teach the word.

 

Sixth, Jesus taught a new way, a fresh start, a new beginning (2:21-22). By speaking about the nature of old and new cloth and old and new wineskin, Jesus was teaching the truth that to follow Him they must leave their religious mindset and follow Him with their heart in the Spirit. Jesus spoke of the necessity of people realizing that they could not build on the old ineffective religious pharisaical ways, but instead they needed a fresh new beginning.

 

 The disciples of John were locked in a legalistic, works mindset. They were sincere, but they needed to learn what it meant to minister to the Lord (e.g. Acts 13:2). Therefore, John’s disciples came and asked Jesus why His disciples didn’t fast. Jesus didn’t say fasting was wrong and indeed said His disciples would fast later (2:20). But now, in the presence of Jesus, it was not the time to fast, it was the time to revel in their close personal relationship with Jesus. Jesus used this interaction to point out an important truth.

Nowadays we have pre-shrunk clothing, but that was not the case in Jesus’ day. In Jesus’ day if you had an old garment that had been washed and worn many times and had been shrunk already, if that old garment was torn and you tried to patch it with new cloth, when you washed the garment, the new cloth patch would shrink and tear away from the old cloth it was sewed to and make the hole that much worse. Just as the new and the old cloth won’t mesh, so the gospel of Jesus would not mesh with the old religious way (2:21).

Old wineskins are stretched out to their maximum capacity as the gases from the wine expanded them in the sack. If you poured new wine into the old wineskins when the fermentation process took place and the new wine expanded, it would burst the relatively dry and brittle stretched old skins. In the same way, you can’t pour the new gospel into an old religious vessel; you need a completely new vessel that God alone can provide or you’ll burst the vessel. If you try to take the gospel and follow your old religious ways, you’ll be torn and ultimately burst, it just won’t work (2:21).

A New Way that Supercedes Religious Practice

Jesus words about the need for new wineskins and new clothing are an illustrative restatement of the key verse of His Sermon on the Mount teaching. The key verse in the Sermon on the Mount is:

  • Matthew 5:20 - “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”  [21]

There needs to be a clean break from reliance upon religious works and self-efforts and a fresh start made by grace through faith in Jesus (Eph 2:1-9).

Religious ways are just not what God is seeking, nor are they capable or adequate to bring us into a personal relationship with the Lord. Paul makes this point to the church in Colosse when he is inspired to write:

  • Colossians 2:8-10 – “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”  [22]

The point Paul makes is that a person can be complete in Jesus, that is, in a personal relationship with the Person of Jesus, religious rituals will only snag and snare us in a web of guilt and cheat us, keep us from experiencing the Person of Jesus.

Furthermore, religious external self-efforts are not effective in dealing with our flesh. Paul also is inspired to write in the letter to the Colossians:

  • Colossians 2:18-23 – “Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”  [23]

Resorting to religious practices to deal with our flesh is futile. Performing rituals just doesn’t cut it against the flesh worm within us. God has provided a much more personal and powerful way to deal with our flesh and come close to Him.

A New and Living Way of Personal Relationship with God in Christ

In Hebrews it speaks of this when it states:

  • Hebrews 10:19-22 – “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,21 and having a High Priest over the house of God,22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”  [24]

This fresh start is an introduction into a new life in Christ in the Spirit. Elsewhere in the Bible it confirms the newness of this work by saying:

  • Ezekiel 11:19 -  “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,”  [25]
  • Romans 6:4 – “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”  [26]
  • 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 – “And we have such trust through Christ toward God.5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  [27]
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  [28]
  • Ephesians 4:20-24 – “ But you have not so learned Christ,21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”  [29]
  • Titus 3:4-8 – “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”  [30]

There is a new and living, a fresh and vibrant experience to have when you enter into a personal relationship with the Person of Jesus. Settle for nothing less!

 

 MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus sought the lost, to bring them into a new and living Personal Relationship with Him; we should experience that personal relationship with Jesus and call others to do the same.

Is your pursuit of God more ritual than relationship? Stone images don’t talk. They are cold and impersonal. Jesus has so much more than ritual and religion for us. Jesus has revealed His Person to us so that we can have a personal relationship with Him. Don’t settle for anything less. And don’t only think of yourself, think of the lost who need to come to Jesus and experience that personal relationship with Him too.

Jesus the Lord of the Sabbath

Mark 2:23-28 – “Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain.24 And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”25 But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him:26 “how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat, except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?”27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.28 “Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”  [31]

Here we see that the scrutiny and opposition of the scribes continues and we see that they are really watching Jesus as they even follow Him and His disciples into the field to see what they are doing on the Sabbath (2:23). They are looking to see if Jesus is keeping the Law and the Sabbath day was an ideal opportunity to do this as far as they were concerned. In actuality the religious Pharisees had lost all sense of the true meaning and purpose of what God had intended with the Sabbath day. Bible teacher Jon Courson makes the following comment on the hypocritical scrutiny of the religious Pharisees:

“But in reality, the Sabbath Day had become anything but a day of rest, for the scribes had encumbered it with so many rules and regulations, that the Talmud devoted 24 chapters to instructions for keeping the Sabbath. For example, you could not carry any object on the Sabbath that weighed more than a dried fig. So, if you wore false teeth, you would have to take them off on the Sabbath or else you would be in violation of the Sabbath Law. You couldn’t look into a mirror on the Sabbath because perhaps you would see a gray hair, and you would be tempted to pluck it out, which would constitute work. You couldn’t take a bath on the Sabbath because perhaps while you were in the bathtub, water would spill out, and thus the floor would be washed – a Sabbath violation. . . . Here’s a question I have: What were these Pharisees doing in the field in the first place? They had broken their own codes by being more than 3,000 feet away from their own homes on the Sabbath. But that’s the way Pharisees always are – they’ll always go out of their way to find fault with others, and, in so doing, they blow it themselves.” [32]

What does the Bible say about the Sabbath?            

The Sabbath

God rested, or literally ceased from work on the seventh day after creating the universe in six days and He declared that day to be holy and special (Genesis 2:2-3). The Sabbath is not mentioned again until it is mentioned at the Exodus (Exodus 16:23) and made a part of the Law (Exodus 20:8-11). For Israel the Sabbath was a reminder of their being separated unto God (Exodus 31:13-17). C.I. Schofield makes the following comment on the Sabbath:

“Apart from maintaining the continued burnt offering (Numbers 28:9), and its connection with the annual feasts (Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:3,8; Numbers 28:25), the seventh-day Sabbath was never made a day of sacrifice, worship, or any manner of religious service. It was simply and only a day of complete rest for man and beast, a humane provision for man’s needs. In Christ’s words, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). Our Lord found the observance of the day encrusted with rabbinical evasions and restrictions (Matthew 12:2), wholly unknown to the law, so that He was Himself held to be a Sabbath breaker by the religious authorities of the time. (Emphasis added.) [33]

In the book of Hebrews it sates:

  • Hebrews 4:9-10 – “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”  [34]

In Hebrews it is speaking of the failure of the people of God to enter into the Promised Land and that even when they did enter the Land they did not rest in the Lord. The rest that is referred to here in Hebrews as a rest from trying to work your way toward righteousness with God by keeping laws and traditions. This is a rest provided by Jesus.

“Have you never read . . . ?”

The Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of breaking the Sabbath and that Jesus was condoning it. Jesus responds with the words, “have you never read,” (2:25). In other words Jesus is saying, “Don’t you know what the word of God says?” Jesus addresses the false traditions of men with the word of God. That is the pattern the disciple of Jesus is to follow.

We are exhorted in Scripture by God to know the word and use it. If you want to appear foolish before God, if you want to miss out on the abundant life He offers you, if you want to be blind to His many blessings, then just neglect the word of God. Knowing God’s word and applying it to life by the Spirit leads to stability, spirituality, blessing and certainty in life. The Bible tells us that it is necessary to know and rightly interpret God’s word. Paul was inspired to write:

  • 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  [35]

Knowing God’s word cannot be overemphasized because so much depends upon it. God’s word is all we need to be useful to Him. God’s word is our sword with which we fight in the battle. This is what Paul is inspired to share with us in the following verses:

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  [36]
  • Ephesians 6:17 – “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;”  [37]

When Jesus said to the Pharisees, “have you never read,” He was using the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. He is our example and we must follow His lead. What is the right interpretation regarding the Sabbath? Let’s see.

Is the idea of a Sabbath important?

Is it good to take one day out of every week and simply rest in it? Yes, that is a very wise thing to do. God instituted such a day because, as Creator of humankind, He knew we all needed to rest. After Adam sinned, work became a chore and enslaving, “toil.” In Genesis it states of the curse brought on by sin:

  • Genesis 3:17-19 – “Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field.19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”   [38]

The effects of sin on work made the need for regular rest all the more important. We should take a day each week to rest, be with our families and worship the Lord. But what particular day we take to rest should not become a source of guilt and bondage.

Should we go to church and worship the Lord? Yes, we need to fellowship, be in God’s word, worship and pray together as a body of believers just as the early church did.  This is what the early believers did, as we see in the following verses:

  • Acts 2:42,47 – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. . . . 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”  [39]

The book of Acts is God’s model for the church and we would be wise to follow it. Therefore, if we neglect such things we endanger our spiritual growth, our very souls. But when we look at the Sabbath through legalistic eyes rather than in the Spirit, blessing turns to bondage. What about believers and the Sabbath day? Did the first century church worship on the Sabbath, or Saturday? Lets continue with our study.

Is it necessary for Christians to worship on Saturday as the Sabbath day?

The Sabbath or “seventh day” corresponds to our Saturday (Mark 2:23-3:6; Luke 1-11). Seventh Day Adventists make a big deal about worshipping on the “Sabbath” or Saturday, (as do others inclined to a legalistic view of God). They say that “Sunday” is taken from the pagan holy day “Sun-Day” dedicated to the Sun god and was instituted by the Roman Catholic Church. They go on to claim that the mark of the beast referred to in Revelation (Revelation 13) is Sunday worship. Because it is a mark of rebellion against God’s stipulated Sabbath day of Saturday. [40]

But there is a problem with such a belief. First, nowhere in the fourth commandment is anyone instructed to worship on the Sabbath, but the day is a day of “rest” (Exodus 20:8-11). Those who refer to the Sabbath in a legalistic way, turn the day of rest into the day of restlessness.

Second, those who say that worship should be observed on Saturday as the Sabbath day because “Sunday” is a pagan day of worship to the Sun god, fail to recognize that “Saturday” is derived from the Latin “Saturn’s Day” a pagan astrological worship day for the planet Saturn. Every name of every day of the week is derived from pagan religious roots.

Third, and most importantly, if salvation is dependent on worshipping on Saturday or the Sabbath this was not stipulated when the apostles in the early church had opportunity to do so. In Acts when the gospel was spreading to the Gentiles the early church, (which was made up predominantly of Jews who had accepted Jesus as their Messiah) had to decide how non-Jewish believers in Jesus related to the Law. When a decision was made and a written instruction sent to the Gentiles, no mention was made of any necessity for Sabbath day observance (Acts 15:5-11, 24-29). Surely this incident in the early church gave the perfect opportunity to claim the necessity of Sabbath recognition, yet we see no reference to it at all. This also predates by centuries any involvement of the Roman Catholic Church in establishing Sunday as a Sabbath day. 

Is the Saturday Sabbath a sign for the church? If not, what is?

The Sabbath was given as a sign for Israel, not the Church. In Exodus it states:

  • Exodus 31:13-17 - “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.14 ‘You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.15 ‘Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.16 ‘Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.17 ‘It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ ”  [41]

While the Sabbath is a sign to Israel, (as is circumcision – Romans 4:11) nowhere is Sabbath observance mentioned as a sign or seal for the church (as Seventh-day Adventists claim). It is very important in Biblical interpretation to see the distinction God makes between Israel and the church (see Romans 9-11). When the church and Israel are melded together in Biblical interpretation all kinds of problems arise such as the demand that the church obey the Saturday Sabbath. (Another example of misinterpretation of Scripture due to this melding is the faulty application of Matthew 24; mark 13 and Luke 21 as pertaining to the church rather than primarily to Israel resulting in a Post-Tribulation Rapture doctrine.)

If the Sabbath is not the seal or sign for the church, then what is? The Holy Spirit is the seal or sign of the church. Paul says this in 2 Corinthians where he is inspired to write:

  • 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God,22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”  [42]
  • Ephesians 1:13-14 – “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”  [43]
  • Ephesians 4:30 – “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  [44]

The sign that someone in the church belongs to the Lord is the presence of the Holy Spirit within him or her. If you haven’t got the Spirit, you don’t belong to God. Paul said this in Romans when he was inspired to write:

  • Romans 8:9-11 – “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”  [45]

How do we know the Spirit is in us? The presence of the Spirit in a church or and individual is indicated by the fruit of the Spirit. The primary fruit of the Spirit is “love,” agape love, self-sacrificing, giving, God-like, Christ-like love. This is seen in the follow verses:

  • Galatians 5:22-24 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  [46]

(Notice that the term “love” in the above verse is in the singular form indicating that what follows after it is descriptive rather than a list of various fruits, plural.)

To see the Sabbath as the church’s seal or sign of authenticity actually serves to rob the church, to “cheat” the church of the Spirit. This is exactly what Paul is inspired to warn the church at Colosse. Let’s see what he said.

The truth about Sabbath bondage

Nowhere in the New Testament are Christians told to keep the Sabbath day holy. Rather we are told to not allow others judge us in regards to the days we worship the Lord. A Scripture that is directly pertinent to this situation in Mark, (which we mentioned earlier but bears revisiting) is found in Colossians where it states:

  • Colossians 2:8-10,16-23 – “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. . . . 16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”  [47]

Paul nails the issue and root problem right on the head; it is a matter of religious pride. What should our attitude be towards such things? In the book of Romans Paul is inspired to write:

  • Romans 14:5-10 – “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”  [48]

 The believer should refrain from judging others in regards to such things.

The first day of the week

What day did the early Christians choose to worship the Lord? I believe there is more evidence to support the gathering in church to worship the Lord on Sunday, the first day of the week. The first day of the week was the day after the Sabbath day. This is evidenced in the following verses:

  • Matthew 28:1 – “Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.”  [49]
  • Mark 16:1-2 – “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.”  [50]

The Biblical evidence supports the early disciples worshipping on the first day of the week, Sunday. This is likely because it was the day that Jesus rose from the dead and therefore the early believers wanted to commemorate the resurrection with a day of worship. This is also evidence of the resurrection in that it caused orthodox Jewish believers to alter their Sabbath proceedings and only something incredibly of God and awesome could have moved them in such a way. The Bible states:

  • Acts 20:7 – “Now on the first day of the week [i.e. Sunday], when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.”  [51]
  • 1 Corinthians 16:2 - On the first day of the week [ i.e. Sunday] let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.”  [52]

Now having said that Sunday is a viable day to worship the Lord, the more important truth that should rule the day is that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. Now what does that mean?

 

The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath

 

Author and Bible teacher Gayle Erwin makes the following astute comment and observation in this regard:

 

“An enduring debate swirls around which day we will call the Sabbath. The institutional church around the world basically ascribes that title to Sunday and that day, chosen because of the resurrection, becomes our day of meeting, worship and rest. . . .

 

Choosing Sunday as the day we gather to worship resulted in all manner of consequences, blue laws which permitted no one to do business on Sunday, legalisms that caused many to wonder if it was okay to even enjoy Sunday, theological splits for those who wanted to still observe Saturday.

 

So what is right? Actually, the Law found its fulfillment in Jesus, so He becomes the teacher who sets our understanding and gives us freedom . . . . When He declares Himself Lord of the Sabbath, understanding dawns. Jesus is our Sabbath and in Him we find rest (Sabbath). No longer is one day different from the other when all of them are Sabbaths . . . . No longer does rest belong to a day, it now belongs to the Creator. . . . [Jesus said] “All things have been committed to me . . . .” [Matthew 11:27]. This means exactly what it says – all things. This includes rules about days and food and activities and, and, and. Since He defined rest (Sabbath) as only in Him, then only in Him (not a specific day) will we find Sabbath (rest). . . . Now in this great day of the presence of the Lord, rest is not the product of a day, but the presence of the Lord of the Sabbath in our lives. Consequently, every day is Sabbath to the follower of Jesus, and it matters not what you call the day. He is our rest!” [53]

 

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, we can rest in Him, He has everything under control, everything.

 

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath and offers us rest from our self-righteous works; we should let Him be Lord of our days and rest in Him.

Have you been hung up on the Sunday Saturday issue? Don’t’ be, let Jesus be the Lord of all your days. You can worship the Lord on any day and should worship the Lord on every day. We need to quit focusing and obsessing on our works and trust in His completed work. Rest in the arms of the Person of Jesus.

 

Conclusion

 

Jesus is God who forgives our sins, the Seeker of the Lost, and the Lord of the Sabbath. In this chapter we have seen that the healing of the soul is more important than the healing of the physical body. We have seen the mission purpose of the Person of Jesus is to seek and save the lost, to introduce them to His new and living way of a personal saving relationship with Him. And we have seen that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, which we understand to mean that He is Lord of all our days.

 

An interesting find in Washington D.C. at the turn of the last century illustrates a bit the value of adopting Jesus priority of reaching the lost with His message of forgiveness and Lordship.  An article about this find reads:

Graffiti from the 1800s discovered by workers renovating the Washington Monument has quite a different tone from that usually found today on the sides of buildings and subway cars: "Whoever is the human instrument under God in the conversion of one soul, erects a monument to his own memory more lofty and enduing (sic) than this," reads the inscription which can now be viewed by visitors to the monument. It is signed BFB. No one knows who that is, or who left the small drawings and 19th century dates on other walls.

The markings in the lobby of the monument were covered over when it was decorated at the turn of the century. They were found when workers removed marble wainscoting as part of a year-long $500,000 renovation which was just completed. (Spokesman-Review, June,1994.)

Jesus had a personal passion for souls, to see them freed from religious  legalism, the bondage of their sin and their fleshly lusts. Jesus wants to be our Lord. He wants to be the Lord of all our days. That is the greatest mission to fulfill and be a part of. Mark that action and in the Spirit prayerfully ask God to being it to pass in and through you.

 

 



[1][1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16] http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/f/forgiveness.htm

[17]Holy Bible, New Living Translation, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1996.

[18]Holy Bible, New Living Translation, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1996.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20] J.K. Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, p. 142.

 

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Bible Commentary – Matthew Vol. One (Tree of Life Pub.: Jacksonville, OR) 1993. pgs. 305-306,308

[33] C.I. Schofield, The New Schofield Study Bible NKJV  (Nashville. TN: Thomas Nelson Pub.) 1989. note from Matthew 12:1, p. 1142.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40] Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines (Washington, D.C.: General conference of Seventh-day Adventists) 1988. p. 167. This book was sent out to pastors by the Seventh-day Adventist church in an effort to legitimize their beliefs and therefore is authoritative concerning the beliefs of 7th-day Adventists.

[41]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[48]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[50]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[51]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[52]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[53] Gayle Erwin, The body Style, (Cathedral City, CA: Yashua Pub.) 2002. Pages75-77.