Only the Sick Need Apply – Mark 2:14 – 17

As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He *said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. (Mark 2:14)

Jesus, passing by sees Levi in his tax booth. The more I learn about Jesus the more I realize that Jesus did not just “see” people, He SAW people. Jesus really looked at them and acknowledged them, He often stopped and spoke to them. How many people do I pass in a day and literally just pass them? Do I take even a moment to SEE them as individuals? As people having goals, ambitions, possibly carrying heavy burdens of physical pain, grief, worry?

“I pray I would take time to give a friendly greeting, a warm smile to really look into their eyes. I ask you God to give me an opportunity to speak a word of encouragement, a word of blessing and not disgust or complaint. Oh God, I am sorry for just ignoring people, for thinking badly of them or, even worse, not thinking of them at all. Help me be more like Jesus, help me SEE a person, not an interruption or annoyance.”

And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, (Mark 2:15)

Things never just “happened” with Jesus! He was always intentional and purposeful in everything He did. His sole purpose and intention, daily was to do the will of His Father. How did He do this? There are several recorded instances where Jesus took time to be alone to pray, to speak to and seek God.

“Oh God, help me to follow Jesus example! He Himself was God yet He made time to be with you. I am an ordinary woman, if Jesus needed to pray, I need it much more!”

and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. (Mark 2:15)

Jesus did not discriminate! Tax collectors were the outcasts of the day. No one wanted to be with them! Associating with sinners made you a sinner too. Who wants to be with the crowd that everybody else avoids? Jesus!

“Oh Lord, forgive me for looking down on people for any reason. Help me not to avoid those who are different from me. Help me not to be judgmental, especially help me not to judge anyone on their outward appearance. Help me see them as you see them.  Help me love them as you do.”

When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:16)

I find it interesting that the scribes (pious Jews who strictly followed the religious laws) did not confront Jesus directly with their “concern”; they asked His disciples. The reality was that they were not really concerned about Jesus; they were more interested in catching Him breaking their laws. They were interested in punishment, not restoration. Their behavior is a good lesson for me…

“Jesus, I am so grateful for the Bible. Grateful that I can learn who you are, who God is and who I am as I read it. Help me remember what I read and apply it to my life. I don’t want to read it just to learn facts; I want it to change me from the inside out. Help me not to be a religious phony or pretender. Jesus, help me remember to come to you with everything, every question, every worry and help me come to you first!”

And hearing this, Jesus *said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

What a great answer! Jesus knew the real problem of the scribes; self-righteousness and pride. They believed that perfect obedience made them perfect; they saw themselves as healthy. Jesus knows we, they, are all UN-healthy; we are all sick, we are all sinners. Sadly for the scribes, they did not welcome Jesus; the tax collectors and sinners did. Jesus will only go where He is welcomed; He is a gentleman; He waits to be invited.

“Thank you, Jesus that you made me aware of my sickness. Thank you that I invited you into my heart. Help me to remember that I did invite you and asked you to be Lord of my life. Help me to truly surrender all of myself, all of my life, all of my mind to you – to hold nothing back. Thank you that I am made righteous because You made it so by paying the price for my sin. It is not about me; I could not have made this decision if you had not called me. It is always, only all about you, Jesus!”

“Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible by The Lockman Foundation.”

What’s Your Excuse??

Do You Want to Get Well-- What kind of question is that??  That is the last question to ask me when I am sick!   Migraine headaches used to be a chronic complaint for me.   I HATED those headaches.  They made me nauseous, made me feel like I was losing days out of my life.  When I was in the grip of a migraine I wanted to be asked if I would like a cup of tea; what chores needed to be taken care of; would I like anything to eat  Don’t ask me if I wanted to get well – of course I did, who wouldn’t!

At the pool of Bethesda, Jesus asked a man at this question.  According to the account in John 5, this pool was known as a place where miraculous healing occurred. When the water was stirred/moved, anyone going into the water would be healed; pretty simple, pretty amazing!  The man Jesus spoke to had been visiting the pool, hoping for healing but he was never fast enough.  He had been waiting for 38 years!!!  His answer to Jesus question?  “I have no man to put me in the water…someone goes before me!”  He does not give a direct answer to Jesus’ question, instead, he makes an excuse.

When I had one of those hated migraines I would try almost anything to relieve that pain.  Whenever I am sick I will do whatever it takes to get better, I  will swallow the yucky tasting medicine, eat the bland food, stay in bed – oh wait, that last one is not so bad!  I do not enjoy being sick and I’ll bet you don’t either!

Jesus tells the man to pick up his pallet (mat) and walk, the man is instantly healed.  But Jesus KNEW this man’s problem was much deeper than just needing a helping hand.  In addition to his obvious disability, this particular man was also spiritually sick.  Some time later, read what Jesus says to him in John 5, verse 14,  Afterward Jesus *found him in the temple and said to him,“Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.”  Note that in this case (but certainly not EVERY case), this man’s illness was caused by sin in his life.  The man at the pool was spiritually sick.  Knowing this, Jesus question, ‘do you want to get well’, takes on a deeper meaning.  If I am willing “do whatever it takes” to get well when I am physically sick, what is my excuse for my spiritual sickness?  Why do I tolerate my own spiritual sickness and stay in pain?  When I allow myself to dwell on thoughts of past sins, failure, feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, powerlessness, anxiety, physical imperfections, self-pity, etc., etc, you get the idea; I am choosing to stay spiritually sick!     

 

“Whenever I allow myself to dwell on

There was little I could do to prevent those migraines. I found that staying well rested and stress free was somewhat helpful but I could never completely escape them.  I have learned that spiritual sickness is a lot like my migraines or any other physical sickness; it can’t be completely avoided but, by doing some  work, some preventative maintenance,  the intensity and duration of my spiritual sickness can be lessened.  My daily “must-do’s” are:

  • Read the Word of God, The Bible – no substitutes, no shortcuts!  Daily time spent reading the Bible is absolutely necessary to spiritual health! Pick a place to start reading and keep moving to the right; if there is something you do not understand, ask God, keep reading, God will make it clear.  If you have never read the Bible, I suggest starting with the Gospel of John.
  • Pray – talk to God anytime, anywhere, all the time, everywhere.  Especially at the first symptom of spiritual sickness pray this prayer, “God, I can’t, you can, help me!”
  • Worship – sing along and listen to words of praise, dancing optional and highly recommended.  Remember this is to the audience of One!

These next two should be done regularly but especially when you realize you are spiritually sick:

  • Writing – put your thoughts and feelings on paper (or on your computer).  This is between you and God only, no one ever needs to see or read them; write until you feel like it is all out and then tear it up/delete it.  As you write/type, picture Jesus, he watches with love.  Take frequent pauses to listen to God. 
  • Accountability – call, text, email or visit a trusted friend.  Choose a friend who will agree that your spiritual sickness is real, who will not condemn you for being sick, who will pray with and for you and most importantly, will point you back to Jesus and The Word and hold you accountable!

Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to get well?”.  Jesus is asking the same question today, “Do you want to get well?”  If the answer is yes, then, like the man at the pool, we need to pick up our pallets, we need to stop making excuses and get to work.  Then, Jesus will do the healing!!!