Friend of Sinners
A label that was meant to be insulting to the highest degree was actually a clear testament to the mission of Jesus. The thing that caused the religious elite to hate Jesus was the very thing that caused the average person to love Him. Jesus was a friend—even to messed up people who had lost their way. The call to “follow me” is a call to embrace the heart of God for all people.
Mark 2:1-12 Healing of the Paralytic
Friends – Mk 2:1-5
Notice what it cost the friends, the obstacles they had to overcome, and their sheer determination for their friend. In your spiritual beginning, who cared enough to get you to Jesus? Who do you care about in the same way today? What obstacles can you expect to face as you bring your friend to Christ?
Jesus – Mk 2:5, 7, 9, 10
Jesus further reveals his identity, demonstrates His authority, and clarifies His mission. What was the real message behind Jesus’ miracle?
Scribes – Mk 2:6-7
The scribes were the quality control officers for right theology in Israel. This is the first interaction between the leaders and Jesus that Mark describes. How was Jesus making their job difficult? Where are you resistant to Jesus’ identity and authority in your life? (Mk 14:36)
Mark 2:13-17 The calling of Matthew
Matthew – Mk 2:13-15; Lk 5:27-29
As a tax collector, Matthew (Levi) lived a luxurious lifestyle. But he was seen by his fellow Jews as a traitor and a thief. What was Matthew leaving behind to follow Jesus? What did Matthew immediately do once he decided to fully follow Jesus? What might be hindering my enthusiasm and intention for my calling as a fisher of men? (Mk 1:17)
Jesus – Mk 2:14-17; Mt 9:12-13; Rom 2:4
Jesus is comfortable hanging out with the socially undesirable and the spiritually unhealthy (sinners and tax collectors). Why would Jesus invite such an outcast like Matthew to follow Him? What’s the difference between accepting a person and approving their lifestyle? Would I call myself a friend of sinners?
In light of this passage, how is God asking me to live differently? With which characters do I most relate? How would I describe my current spiritual condition? What friend does God want me to help take the next step toward Christ?