Pastor's Ponderings: Meandering through Mark 2:15-17 bible study (September 12, 2023)
Updated: Oct 4
May God's Love bring you hope today and always.
As I write today, the crisis in Morocco appears to be growing as mountain villages near the epicenter of the earth quake have been totally destroyed, and few, and in some cases no one, survived in those isolated places. Contributions can be made through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA.Org) disaster relief placing a direction for the money that is sent to be used. Please remember that nearly $.90 of every dollar gets used for the purpose for which is was given. There are few, if any other organizations, that can accomplish that percentage. Please keep me in your prayers too. I have controlled high blood pressure, most of the time. Last night I had a spike that took over three hours to bring down with my rescue medication, so today I am very tired, and still kind of battling the after effects of the spike. It usually takes me a few days to fully recover from one of these ups in pressure. I really think that I also got dehydrated through Sunday's heat, and not drinking enough water on Monday either. I am working hard today to really keep the water going throughout the day. Sometimes I get really busy and forget, probably like you all do, to take the precautions that keep me safe for being hydrated.
Today we continue in chapter two of the Gospel of Mark bible study, verses 15-17. This section of Mark's Gospel is also found in Matthew 9:9-13, and in Luke 5:27-32. Once again, John has no comparable parallel. Of course this is one of the things that keeps us all intrigued when we check out John to get the flavor of a very different content, and yet, in its own way, John's Gospel is also authoritative and certainly authentic.
After Jesus calls Matthew the tax collector, Matthew brings Jesus to his home, and calls together those who he knows. According to the Orthodox of the time, these far less than Orthodox people are called the people of the land. They are the ones who do not make any attempt to keep the law of orthodoxy in the Jewish faith, and they are shunned by all of the Jews who do try to keep the law. So here is Jesus, surrounded by tax collectors and sinners. Obviously Matthew has seen something in Jesus that has drawn him to make the commitment to follow the Savior, he wants others to know what he has come to know and experience. I also suspect that if Matthew's tax office is lucrative, then he has an offer to make to someone about taking his place. We do not know if Matthew, who we assume is well resourced, brings his accumulated wealth with him to support Christ's ministry. We are also not given any idea about the content of the conversations that must have been going on. If Christ spoke to this group it was with the same kind of purity, truth, compassion, and love for them that He always used when offering the living presence of God's Grace for those around Him. This group, like Matthew, may have been experiencing Christ's amazing presence. The big elephant in the room is not those who were there to dine with Matthew and to find out about Matthew's life-changing decision to follow this itinerant preacher. It was, in fact, the presence around Matthew's home of the religiously orthodox.
Another factor in this meal is the conversation which Jesus had with those who evidently were also tracking Christ's activities, just like the people who were desperate for God's True Word, and for the healing that Jesus so abundantly offered to those who came to Him. However, their reasoning was completely different. Those who followed the orthodoxy of Jewish Law were there to try to figure out how this new teacher and healer fit into their world of contempt and fear for the "others" of their communities. In some ways, what Jesus says about those who need a doctor and those who don't could lead us to believe that Christ has no place or desire to be with those who are good. That is, as you and I know, not the case at all. The Orthodox of Christ's people believed that they had everything right already. There would have been no willingness on their part to receive the Truth and Healing that Christ offered. There is a great chasm between the humility of right-faith and living, done with thanksgiving, and believing that others are inferior for their failure to meet the perfection of the self centered righteousness of those who sought to dismiss the Christ of God. People who do not carry the Love of Christ in their hearts can never be fishers of people for the Kingdom. Only those who have come to know the power of the compassion and desire of Christ for every single person, no matter their circumstance, can truly be the vehicle of convincing others of the power of God's Love, bringing them into the Kingdom.
God bless you today. I hope that you have the rain that the weather forecasters have said we should get. Remember, The Love of Christ is yours too.
In Christ, Pastor Kim