40 A man with a skin disease approached Jesus, fell to his knees, and begged, “If you want, you can make me clean.”
41 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do want to. Be clean.” 42 Instantly, the skin disease left him, and he was clean. 43 Sternly, Jesus sent him away, 44 saying, “Don’t say anything to anyone. Instead, go and show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifice for your cleansing that Moses commanded. This will be a testimony to them.” 45 Instead, he went out and started talking freely and spreading the news so that Jesus wasn’t able to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, but people came to him from everywhere.
Boldness permeates this story. Boldness on the part of the diseased man, who doesn’t hesitate to reach out to Jesus for healing and hope. Boldness on the part of Jesus as he touches someone shunned by others. The reign of God compels the despairing to hope and compassion compels self-sacrificial action.
Prayer Prompt…Jesus I know that I am timid in many things that matter to you. Inspire me to boldness, especially when it comes to…
1 After a few days, Jesus went back to Capernaum, and people heard that he was at home. 2 So many gathered that there was no longer space, not even near the door. Jesus was speaking the word to them. 3 Some people arrived, and four of them were bringing to him a man who was paralyzed. 4 They couldn’t carry him through the crowd, so they tore off part of the roof above where Jesus was. When they had made an opening, they lowered the mat on which the paralyzed man was lying. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven!”
6 Some legal experts were sitting there, muttering among themselves, 7 “Why does he speak this way? He’s insulting God. Only the one God can forgive sins.”
8 Jesus immediately recognized what they were discussing, and he said to them, “Why do you fill your minds with these questions? 9 Which is easier—to say to a paralyzed person, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk’? 10 But so you will know that the Human One[a] has authority on the earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed, 11 “Get up, take your mat, and go home.”
12 Jesus raised him up, and right away he picked up his mat and walked out in front of everybody. They were all amazed and praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”
This dramatic healing story in Mark’s gospel involves many twists and turns.
Friends with great faith carry a man to Jesus. Religious leaders of great suspicion question Jesus’ motives and authority. A man of great brokenness receives forgiveness and healing, doing nothing to deserve it! Great faith. Great suspicion. Great brokenness. At the intersection of all of this stands the power of Jesus Christ. Jesus harnesses faith, addresses suspicion and doubt, and enters brokenness with powerful results.
Prayer Prompt…Jesus at the intersection of my faith and doubt and brokenness I invite you to enter. Enter into...
13 Jesus went out beside the lake again. The whole crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he continued along, he saw Levi, Alphaeus’ son, sitting at a kiosk for collecting taxes. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Levi got up and followed him.
15 Jesus sat down to eat at Levi’s house. Many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples. Indeed, many of them had become his followers. 16 When some of the legal experts from among the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples, “Why is he eating with sinners and tax collectors?”
17 When Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I didn’t come to call righteous people, but sinners.”
Today’s reading begins a series of interactions between Jesus and the Pharisees. Here, the Pharisees question Jesus’ dinner companions, and his discernment of moral character. I have come to call not the righteous but sinners, says Jesus. Jesus redraws the line between “in” and “out” in God’s reign.
Prayer Prompt…Jesus I believe that you are the great physician, healing all wounds. Please be with me and help me heal…
18 John’s disciples and the Pharisees had a habit of fasting. Some people asked Jesus, “Why do John’s disciples and the Pharisees’ disciples fast, but yours don’t?”
19 Jesus said, “The wedding guests can’t fast while the groom is with them, can they? As long as they have the groom with them, they can’t fast. 20 But the days will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
21 “No one sews a piece of new, unshrunk cloth on old clothes; otherwise, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and makes a worse tear. 22 No one pours new wine into old leather wineskins; otherwise, the wine would burst the wineskins and the wine would be lost and the wineskins destroyed. But new wine is for new wineskins.”
Here Jesus answers questions raised about the behavior of his disciples. They do not fast like the religious people of that day and Jesus is asked to give an account for their behavior. In his answer he highlights two things: that in the presence of Jesus celebration is always in order, and that in Jesus God is doing something new.
Prayer Prompt…Jesus you bring new life to me and to our world. I need new life that comes from you in…
23 Jesus went through the wheat fields on the Sabbath. As the disciples made their way, they were picking the heads of wheat. 24 The Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look! Why are they breaking the Sabbath law?”
25 He said to them, “Haven’t you ever read what David did when he was in need, when he and those with him were hungry? 26 During the time when Abiathar was high priest, David went into God’s house and ate the bread of the presence, which only the priests were allowed to eat. He also gave bread to those who were with him.” 27 Then he said, “The Sabbath was created for humans; humans weren’t created for the Sabbath. 28 This is why the Human One is Lord even over the Sabbath.”
The Pharisees continue to question the “new thing” that Jesus brings. Here, they are concerned about the law. Jesus and his followers break the strict laws surrounding the sabbath. The sabbath was made for humans, not humans for the sabbath…the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.
With these words Jesus doesn’t devalue the sabbath and the religious practices associated with it, but he does present a new priority. Jesus suggests that in him humanity finds a new rhythm of grace, a new kind of sabbath.
Prayer Prompt…Jesus, I declare that you are indeed Lord of my life and of my world. I need sabbath. Teach me to rest about…