Summary: Faith or unbelief determines what we see when we look at Jesus. Jesus brings us to the valley of decision where we either become his followers or his enemies.
(Begin by reading chapter one as if you are a messenger from Mark. Better yet, memorize it and share it as if you are Mark himself).
In chapter two of Mark we have four more vignettes in Jesus’ life recorded for us. In each of these Jesus expresses his authority in both freeing and disturbing ways: freeing for those who have faith, disturbing for those do not believe.
Here are the four vignettes:
1. The Paralytic and Jesus authority to forgive sins
2. The call of Levi (Matthew) and Jesus association with tax collectors and sinners
3. Fasting and Jesus discussion about old and new matters
4. The Sabbath and Jesus, son of David and son of man as Lord of the Sabbath.
As we consider what Mark tells us here about Jesus, several aspects come into view.
So much could be discussed about each one of these vignettes in his life that several sermons could be written for each one of them. But instead of focusing on the details of any particular one, I’d like us to notice the overall import of these events in his life. We will also notice how they impact us and our relationships today.
Look at these two major viewpoints and we will cover them in order:
1. The attraction of Jesus… or Finding Freedom in faith
2. The objections to Jesus… or Finding Fault without faith
1. The attraction of freedom by faith
Mark records the amazing attraction Jesus has on many people. From the onset of his ministry he calls followers who leave behind jobs and security and attach themselves to him with bonds of loyalty. There is something fresh, free, powerful, caring, revolutionary and extraordinary about Jesus. Jesus opens our eyes to see the presence of God. In Jesus own presence the kingdom of God encroaches on Satan’s territory – Jesus casts out demons and heals diseases. He forgives sins. He eats with sinners. He doesn’t fast on schedule. Even the Sabbath law bows to him! Jesus answers his opponents with clear reason and authority. Who is this man!
Mark wants us to see Jesus. Do you see him? What do you see in Jesus? What did those see who followed him in Galilee? Look at him. Look at them! He comes on the scene saying and doing things that draw such crowds people are tearing up the roof to get access to him. They go where ever he goes. He’s like a magnet drawing people toward him. What is it about him?
The attraction of Jesus still exists. Think about us here today. Signal Mountain, Tennessee, January 15, 2006, here we are gathered together in this place on Sunday morning in the name of Jesus Christ. You’ve heard the call to follow this same Jesus that Mark is telling us about in this gospel. You’ve answered his call. That’s why you are here! At least that’s why a lot of us are here. Jesus is still drawing, attracting, and calling followers to come. He’s still doing this today! And now he uses me and you in the church to extend the call! Remember the end of the Bible: “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” and let everyone who hears say, “Come!”
Think about these words of Jesus. (Matthew 11) Jesus said, “28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Is it true? Is the way of the cross actually the way of rest for our souls? Can the yoke of the crucified Savior who calls us to come take up our cross and follow him actually be called a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light? Jesus issues a call that is both inviting and disturbing at the same time. The answer of faith is, “Yes!” For all who answer the call with faith and follow in submission to the will of Jesus Christ, “Yes!” The answer of unbelief is, “No way!” But how can this call be for rest, easy and light?
I’m reminded of the song by Rufus Wainwright, “He ain’t heavy, He’s my brother.” Love lightens loads. The love of God, which is the greatest power of the universe, has a way of lightening the load and freeing the spirit and refreshing the weary. Remember Isaiah 40: They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up on wings like eagles. They shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint. Jesus is the one who gives us this love and this life! Jesus Christ not only is he the Lord who calls us, he is the one who walks with us along the path of life. Jesus delivers us from sin and defends us from our accusers; he frees us from oppression and refreshes us with the Holy Spirit. Jesus not only calls us, he cares for us. One thing shines out in all of these episodes of Jesus: his care for the needy. His concern for the sinner. His defense of the disciples. Jesus cares! He cares about the will of God and the welfare of man. This above all else defines his words and actions. But not everyone appreciated his care and calling.