Title: Q & A
Text: Mark 2.13-3.6
Introduction: For our guests, let me give a general overview of how we got to our text for today. Chapter one begins (1-15) with a declaration of who Christ is (The Son of God) and then presents the beginning of his ministry. His popularity explodes as he preaches, teaches and heals those who come to see him and eventually forces him to the desolate places because he can no longer enter into the towns and villages. And yet, the people still come out to him.
In Chapter two we have five conspiracy/conflict stories. We’ll look at them all today. This section reaches its climax with the religious leaders plotting Christ’s death in 3.6.
Chapter three is a set of stories that contrast Jesus’ new family of believers against his biological family that has rejected his claims. Jesus will pick his 12 disciples and his band of followers grows. His brothers, sisters and mom will come to get him – thinking he’s mad. This section will show them in direct contrast to his new family.
So, let’s look at our passage today (2.1-3.6) In our text today, we find five conspiracy/conflict stories. Here’s how they’re broken up:
The 1st conflict is in v 1-12 where the religious leaders can’t believe their ears when Jesus declares a man’s sins are forgiven him. Who does this man think he is? God? We looked closely at that passage last week and will only refer to it in passing.
The 2nd conflict begins with the calling of Levi (Matthew), a Tax Collector. His calling inclines him to celebrate and invite all of his friends, both old and new (13-17). The religious leaders are a bit disturbed that this religious man, Jesus, eats and drinks with such sinners – outcasts. Their questioning is loud enough that Jesus hears.
In the next section (18-22) the religious leaders question Jesus as to why his disciples don’t fast, while their disciples and the disciples of John fast. He then gives them three analogies to identify his presence as the fulfillment of God’s promised salvation. What he’s communicating is that his coming isn’t just something that will reform Judaism, but will radically transform it into something new. In other words, Jesus didn’ t come to put a patch on Judaism, but to bring something new!
The last two sections (23-28; 1-6) deal with the Sabbath. I want to mention them, because they are a large part of this whole section, but I plan to cover them next week. In these two stories, Jesus teaches that the Sabbath was created for the man and not vise versa. The way Jesus confronts their hard hearts only hardens them more and more and then moves them to plot for his destruction. For me, what is most interesting to note is that their actions answer his question (3.4): Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” He chooses to save a life; however, the Religious leaders will choose to take a life – and it is here that they begin to plot and plan for his destruction.
Pause: I understand why preachers limit their texts to small groups of Scripture. There is way too much information to cover in such a large section for digging deep. My intention is to show you the genius, the organization and purpose behind Mark’s work. The question is: What is Mark doing in this passage. Are these stories meant to stand alone, or is he telling a larger story in them. Well, obviously, I think there is a larger story within the groups.
I’d love to just focus on 2.13-17 for 30 minutes. There are three great points:
- The Calling of Matthew (13-14)
- The Celebration of this Calling (15)
- The Confrontation with the Religious leaders (16-17)
Added to this, each of these stories stands alone with wonderful application. But let’s pull away from them and take a bird’s eye view. Each is a destination on a map, like a town or a city. Instead of searching each city out, I’d like to look at the longer journey. So, what is Mark doing? What is he trying to communicate?
To answer this question, I’d like to highlight a couple of actions on the part of Mark. I’ve divided each section into two main parts: Questions and Answers (Q&A)
Let’s begin w/ the questions.
I. The Questions (7, 16, 18, 24, 3.2,4)
exp.: In each smaller story, the religious leaders are found questioning Jesus and his practices:
- 7“Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
- 16 “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
- 18“Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
- 24“Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” …going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain.
- 3.2they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And then Jesus asks the question in v4.
Take note of a couple of these stories:
- Do you notice that the three internal stories all deal with eating?
ill.: Mark Horne, in his book, The Victory According to Mark, makes note that eating socially was an important part of Israel’s history. The people practice it because it is a practice of God. Three times in the Law, Israel was commanded to celebrate with eating and drinking. We see this in Nehemiah when the people began to mourn sorrowfully for their actions. They saw their failure to keep God’s Law; however, the leadership noted the date according to the Jewish calendar and declared a celebration because God had commanded it. And celebrate they did!
Consider: Have you thought about this eating and drinking with sinners? For the most part, the church has pulled away from the world and we have isolated ourselves. We’ve created cliques and clubs to keep ourselves from having to ‘fellowship’ with tax collectors and sinners. We’ve really missed our calling in this. I’m not saying go be tainted by the world. However, I am wondering how we can be salt in light if we never go to where lost people are. It’s like that old song: I’ve got to start carrying water to the desert and stop this hauling water to the sea!
Paul confronted Peter in front of all their friends because he was behaving like Jesus – eating and drinking with Gentiles. But then, when he was around his Jewish friends, he stopped and withdrew from the Gentiles. Paul basically called him a hypocrite and rebuked him publicly (Gal. 2.11ff)
Later in Paul’s ministry, he sees that the church in Corinth was getting this all mixed up, too. Paul also encourages the church at Corinth to stop eating and drinking with Christians who were living in sin, but not to stop fellowshipping with those who were lost. In 1 Cor 5.9-13
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
app.: Somehow, we’ve got it backward through the years. The church is supposed to keep itself pure. We have an identity to protect before the world. We’re to be distinct. But in doing so, we’ve pulled away from the world – the very place we’re supposed to be salt and light. Here’s what I mean:
- We’ll have a women’s fellowship and invite a lost woman to come… (Rachel Janokvic)
- We’ll have a men’s fellowship – a beast feast – a wild game cook-off and invite lost men
- We’ll have youth fellowships – bring in a big name, cool, youthful looking guest speaker; we’ll bring in a band that appeals to the younger generation and then ask the teens to invite a lost youth with the hopes that they’ll hear the gospel and get saved.
These have become the practice. And, they can be effective. Yes, people do get saved in such programs and activities. But, nowhere do we see Jesus pulling the disciples together and saying: Hey guys, we’re going to have a large fellowship. We’re going to go fishing and catch a bunch of fish and have a big fish fry. You invite a lost friend to come along and I’ll share the gospel with them after we’ve eaten.
That story isn’t in the Bible. And if you hear Paul, he says don’t fellowship with the hypocrite – the person who claims the name of Christ and lives like hell. But instead, we are to hang out with lost people. We don’t judge them. We win them over by our lifestyle. We are to be salt and light in their worlds.
Christ and his followers are eating and drinking with the lost so much, it sparks another question from the religious leaders: Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast? And I love this question at the end of the chapter: why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath? That is by plucking heads of grain and eating them as they walk through the field.
Breaking the Sabbath is bad (4th Commandment). No doubt. So, we have to look closer to see if the accusation is correct. Actually, it isn’t. Jesus is leading his men to do exactly what was commanded in Deut. 23.24-25: 24 “If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in your bag. 25 If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain.
Where do these guys then get this ‘law’? – that what the disciples are doing is unlawful? Are you ready for this? They made it up. The Law states that no one is to reap a harvest on the Sabbath. The Pharisees are the ones who defined what reaping was. From what I can gather, the Mishnah has outlined 39 separate violations for reaping – and this is the infraction, to which they’re referring. They started with a desire to keep the Sabbath day holy, but somehow turned it into a long list of do’s and don’ts. And then, they become the judges for these violations.
Jesus responds to these guys by reminding them of a story – a story about David. I’ll cover this story next week, but for now, let me just clarify that what Christ tells them in effect is that ‘their’ laws have become…in the words of William Lane…unduly stringent and exceed the intention of the Law.
That sounds like us as Baptists. We have God’s Word, but we add so much to it that we become ineffective at reaching the lost. Instead of going out to them, we invite them here – to our purified gatherings so that they might get saved.
Here’s my fear: I wonder if as Baptists, we’re more like the Pharisees than we are Jesus and the disciples. Have we put up such strict guidelines and rules that we’re no longer effective in our witness? The only effective way as we now see it, is to invite people here with the hopes of them getting saved, when all along Mark is teaching us to go out into the fields. He is calling us to go eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners.
…You know who these people are. They’re our neighbors and co-workers. They’re our family members who feel more judged than loved.
In our story this morning, these guys – the Pharisees, are asking questions because Jesus isn’t following their guidelines.
App.: Are the rules you’ve structured for your life from God’s Word or are they traditions that have simply been passed along? (Pause) Think about this: as Baptist, we couldn’t participate in three of the main festivals in the Old Testament. Not because of the Bible, but because of our traditions.
t.s.: Note 1st the questions in each smaller story. Note 2nd, the answers Jesus gives.
II. The Responses (10, 17, 20, 25, 28)
exp.: It is also interesting to note the different titles Jesus ascribes or alludes to himself throughout chapter two:
- Son of Man (10),
- Physician (17),
- Bridegroom (20),
- David (25), and
- Son of Man again (28).
exp.: it would be fun to isolate each of these and do in depth research as to where these terms come from – I’d like to look at this a little deeper on Wednesday night, during our WEBS. For now, let me give a summation: Jesus is saying to these leaders, in response to their questions, that he has the authority to do these things because he is the Promised One of God.
We spoke of references to the Son of Man from Daniel last week. Jesus is clearly communicating his understanding that he is the promised Messiah of God. And, as the Messiah, he has been given the authority to heal and forgive. It looks at first like they’re just not getting this. But according to 3.6, I think they just might be. And for the way his family will respond in chapter 3 – they think he is out of his mind – folks must be coming to an understanding that Jesus is making this outrageous claim.
And, added to this outrageousness, for Jesus to call the unrighteous and not the righteous is offensive to the religious leaders (v 17). They would have a big problem that he isn’t submitting to them and that the people, their people are chasing after him.
Kim Riddlebarger (in reference to v17): Jesus is using the term “righteous” in a rhetorical sense–those who think themselves to be righteous and therefore unable to consider the fact that they needed to humble themselves before God, acknowledge that they are sinners, and then obey Jesus’ summons to repent and believe. In other words, Jesus is saying that he did not come to call the “self-righteous,” or those who think of themselves as better off than the sinners.
This is precisely the point Jesus makes in Luke 18:9-14.9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 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!’ 14 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.”
The Pharisees and scribes were mad that Jesus didn’t submit to them and they were jealous of the crowds that followed Jesus.
We’ve already discussed how eating and drinking and celebrating with sinners was what God did. It was characteristic of him in the OT. The very fact that Israel’s Messiah would sit and eat with sinners points us back to the OT and ahead to the end of the age where the marriage supper of the lamb takes place (Revelation 19:9). In a very real sense, when we take communion, we do so at his table.
His reference to being the Bridegroom is even more blatant. The presence of the Messiah is to be celebrated. When Jesus talks about patches and wineskins, he is saying that he has not come to simply patch up Judaism, but has come to usher in the Kingdom of God – a new creation.
These last two stories deal with the Sabbath. Again, I want to focus on these two passages next week as I talk about the Sabbath and the Sabbath rest. For now, let me just clarify that Jesus is declaring his authority over the Sabbath and his great displeasure with the religious leaders for making the Sabbath something God never intended it to be.
Conclusion: I’ve been watching a lot of Jordan Peterson’s videos this week. I’m pretty much always amazed at smart people. I saw a video where Dr. Peterson spoke of the church and the problem the church has when it makes claims of Christ and to be like Christ, but then she (the church) isn’t anything like Him. So many people walking away from the faith or tainting it by getting caught in adultery or mismanagement of funds, etc.
I’ve been reminded that we all are sinful and prone to chase after fruitless things. I’m reminded that leaders aren’t perfect. And neither are church members. That’s why we need each other – to encourage and exhort each other every day! And our stories this morning remind us that failure isn’t just for those whose morals are loose, but for anyone who breathes and has a heartbeat – and even the most legalistic. Failure attacks the liberal and the fundamentalist, the moderate and the conservative alike.
So in light of our struggles, we must ask ourselves:
- Are we living by man-made traditions or Biblical mandates?
- Holding on to traditions over mandates is sinful and makes one no different than the Pharisee.
- The scary thing about traditions, is that they are so valued, one confuses it w/ commands.
- Are we practicing our evangelism the way Christ did and commanded of us? Or, are we adopting the latest new way to evangelize?
- Are we unattractive to the world because they see us as a bunch of hypocrites? Do we expect lost folks to come here to hear the gospel? There must be a way to love the people of the world and not condone sinful behavior. For me, in some instances – it is very clear what I am comfortable with and what bothers me. But, in others, I’m not sure.
- If Jesus came to Tarpley, would he hang out with us? Or, would we be critical of him because he’s hanging out with people – people we would never be seen with? Would we be mad at him because he didn’t come to our church?