While reading the second chapter of Mark, I noticed a certain behavior of the scribes and the Pharisees. They questioned Jesus repeatedly.
Secretly, in their hearts, the scribes questioned His authority:
When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:5-7 NKJV)
The scribes and Pharisees question His followers:
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. 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?” (Mark 2:15-16 NKJV)
They questioned Him directly and openly:
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?” (Mark 2:18 NKJV)
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. And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” (Mark 2:23-24 NKJV)
If you read the chapter in full, you’ll see that Jesus responded to each question that was brought before Him. I love this. I find it encourageing because it lets me know that I, too, can come boldly to Jesus and ask my questions and receive answers.
That said, however, I also see a warning here, a lesson that I can’t ignore. Each time the scribes and Pharisees had a question for Jesus, they asked in order to point out a flaw in Him. First, they questioned His authority as God (Mark 2:7). Next, they attempted to paint Him unrighteous by pointing to the company He kept (Mark 2:16). They questioned His devotion to God (Mark 2:18) and last, they questioned His willingness to keep the Law (Mark 2:24).
Jesus, of course, was flawless, He had nothing to hide and answered all their questions. He proved His authority by healing the paralytic, revealed that He was the Healer needed by the sinners and the unrighteous, explained the purpose of fasting, and clarified God’s desire for the Sabbath. Given all that He said and did, His answers were still rejected by these scribes and Pharisees. Later, in Mark 3:1-6 we will see that they will no longer question Him but begin to plot to have Him killed.
Why? Because these men didn’t come to Jesus with an open heart seeking truth. They came with their questions looking for any answer that would justify their own way of thinking, their own actions, their speech, their hearts, their sin. They had no desire to know God and be known by Him. They had no desire to changed or be transformed for the better. They wanted to stay the same and prove that they were already righteous, but they weren’t.
So as I apply this passage to my life I ask:
Why do I read the Bible? Why do I pray? Do I use the Word to justify my thinking? Or do I let the Word renew my thinking? Do I approach The Lord expecting Him to conform to my standards? Or do I approach The Lord expecting Him to show me His standards? Do I have an open heart? Do I want to hear Him? Do I want to know Him? Or am I like the scribes and the Pharisees?
I’ll be honest, I don’t always like what I read in the Bible. There are even times when the Word reveals to me that I am in the wrong. Sometime -ok, most times- my initial reaction is to brush that truth off by saying, “I must not understand what God is saying here.” Mark 2 reveals to me that when I approach the Word in this fashion I am no better than those that plotted to kill my Lord and Savior.
Lord, please forgive me. I don’t always want to hear what You are clearly telling me in Your Word. I don’t want to admit that I am in the wrong. I don’t want to admit that I must change. I don’t want to admit that I am still sinning, even though I am a Christian saved by Your grace. Lord, when I open my Bible I want to want to come with a soft heart, one that is pliable and ready to be shaped by You. Please, Lord, teach me. In Your name I pray. Amen.
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I hope my thoughts help you understand how this scripture can be applied to our modern lives, but don’t just take my word for it. Dive into The Bible yourself, pray, and ask the Lord to reveal His truth to you.
Have a question or a thought? Please feel free to leave a comment.