Day Eight with Mark: Mark 3:1-6

Today we take a look at Mark 3:1-6.  This is entitled The Man with a Withered Hand

The Man with a Withered Hand
3 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” 4 Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

Christ_heals_tne_man_with_paralysed_handWe see Jesus heal a man on the Sabbath.  Remember, this is after His teaching on the Sabbath and religion, religion is a good thing, but it doesn’t save.  Only Jesus saves.  The text here says that people were watching to see if He would heal, not to celebrate that someone was healed, but so that they may accuse Him.

Also, notice in verse 5, Jesus gets angry.  Did you expect to see that?  Two things.  First, being “angry” is not a sin.  If getting angry was a sin, then Jesus just sinned, and we know that Jesus didn’t sin. So, there are times in our lives when are going to get angry.

So, here’s the second thing, and a question.  What is it that makes us angry?  Why are we angry.  For Jesus, it is when people are harmed or abused.  When people are harmed or abused, we should be angry.  We should be angry at sin.  At things that are destructive.  We should be angry when children and families are endangered.  We should be angry at things that destroy.  But never act out of vengeance.  Be angry, but do not sin.

I want to unpack for you why the Pharisees were so against Jesus healing on the Sabbath and seemed to be a constant trouble to Jesus.  Believe it or not, they meant well.  They were trying to do what they thought was wrong, but man oh man, did they miss it.

To understand this, we’ve got to go back in the Old Testament. We see in Genesis 12, God called Abraham.  And we see what God promises him.  A land and a people (and that he will be a blessing to all the earth).

As we move forward through the Old Testament, in the Law and the Covenant, we see this Word over and over again to the people.  If you keep the covenant, you keep the land.  If don’t, you will lose it. And that’s what happened. The people didn’t keep the law, and ultimately the nation of Israel divided to the northern kingdom Israel (which was destroyed by Assyria) and the southern kingdom Judah (which was destroyed by Babylon).

Babylon took from Jerusalem the young, the brightest, the smartest, and brought them to Babylon with the intent of making them Babylonian.  That’s where the book of Daniel happened, it’s where Ezekiel wrote his prophecy, Psalm 137 was written then, and then Ezra and Nehemiah chronicles the process of restoration after the Babylonian exile.

What happened during the exile was a group of religious leaders rose up and said this (I’m paraphrasing).  Ok, y’all, last time we were home, we didn’t keep the law. And look what happened. We lost everything. So, when we get back, we are going to keep the law. We are going to keep our promises to God. And we will make sure the do it right. That’s where the Pharisees came from.

And you know what? What they wanted to do was a good thing. They wanted the people to keep their promises. They wanted people to keep the law. They wanted people to be true. But they guided by fear. They were afraid of what would happen when people broke the law.

So, we see Jesus heal on the Sabbath, which they considered work. And the law is clear.  Do not work on the Sabbath (by the way, they had built extra laws that would define what “work” was, how far you could walk, things such as that).  So instead of celebration that someone was healed, they would say YOU BROKE THE SABBATH!  REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME WE DID THIS!  YOU CAN’T DO THAT!

Their intent started off good. But what happened was this. They mistook the law for God.  The focused more on their man-made laws than they did the revelation of God – Jesus Christ – standing in front of them.

They were guided by fear.  And that’s a dangerous, dangerous thing.  They were actually trying (in their own way) to honor God. But they missed the point.

And that can be a reminder to us today that truly want to worship God and honor Him. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing.  Let’s focus on following Jesus. And let’s do all that we can do to bring glory to His name.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

Monday we’ll look at Mark 3:7-11.

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How to Be Forgiven

Today in our passage, we are going to look at two people praying.  Let’s look at their prayers, and see what we can learn about our own walk with God.  

Luke 18: 10-14:

Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayer thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

How to GuideWe see two men pray. One was a Pharisee, one was a tax collector.  Just a little back ground, Pharisees would best be understood as sort of like preachers.  They were educated, they knew the law and the customs of the people and part of what they did was they taught the law to the people and made sure that it was kept. 

A Pharisee felt like his calling was to make sure that people correctly followed God and His law.  

A tax collector was someone that was Jewish and worked for the Roman government. They quite often would use the power of the government to extort money from their own people.  They were seen as traitors by other Jews, they were literally hated. 

So, here we see a religious man that should be looked up and respected by his peers, and someone that was literally hated.  

And yet, in this parable, who walks away forgiven?  The tax collector.  

Why?  Why was he forgiven?  

He asked for it.  He admitted his need, and asked forgiveness for it. And he received forgiveness for it. 

Why was the Pharisee not forgiven?  He didn’t ask.  

So, how are we forgiven?  First, we have to realize that we need forgiveness.  Don’t think we are perfect. Don’t think we’ve got it all figured out. Understand our need.  

And then, ask for forgiveness. And we will be forgiven.  

Today, no matter who you are, where you are, what has happened, you can be forgiven. Really.  Just ask.  It will happen. 

Today, live in the forgiveness. Live in new life.  You are forgiven. 

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Mercy, not Sacrifice

Jesus got fussed at a lot.

He did things that caused other folks to fuss at Him, or judge Him, or condemn Him. He was always doing things that folks didn’t like, or thought He shouldn’t be.

Why? Why did He do these things? And why did folks fuss at Him?

Let’s look at a text today in Matthew 9:10-13 and see why:

And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

mercy-graceJesus eats with the tax collectors and sinners here in this text. And the religious leaders didn’t like that. They fussed at Him and said, you shouldn’t do that. You don’t need to do that.

They aren’t worthy. They are unclean. They shouldn’t be accepted at a meal, they should be judged for their sin.

And Jesus said – I desire mercy, not sacrifice.

That throws folks off. That notion makes us uneasy. Not within ourselves. I like mercy for me. It’s judgement I want for them.

I want God to forgive my sins. But, they deserve judgement for their sin.

Jesus says no – I give mercy.

The “law” is easy. It’s a check list. Do these things. Don’t do these things. It’s easy.

But, actually it’s not. We find that we wind up doing the things we shouldn’t be doing, and we wind up not doing the things that we should be doing. And then we are confused. Broken. Ashamed. We beat ourselves up.

So, hear the words of Jesus. He came to bring mercy.

Take that mercy on yourself today. And here, here’s the hard part.

Give that mercy to “them.” Whoever “they” are. They need that mercy as much as we do. Jesus came to give us mercy. Jesus came to give them mercy.

Today, be a people of mercy, not a people of judgement. And in that, we are obedient the law of love that Jesus gave us to follow!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.