The chapter begins with the account of the how Jesus heals a paralytic man. The man’s friends show amazing faith by tearing up the roof and dropping the man in above Jesus. Jesus sees their great faith and forgives the man’s sin. This stuns the crowd. They expect a healing, many are doubtful that Jesus can even forgive sin. Jesus sees their doubt and authenticates his statement by healing the man.
It is apparent that the man needed healing, but his greater need was the forgiveness of his sins. I wonder if his friends knew this? I wonder if they would have been as aggressive to get him to Jesus if Jesus would have forgiven his sins, but left him a Paralytic? I wonder if we look at our neighbors, coworkers, and friends and don’t really see their greatest need is to trust in Christ for the forgiveness and remission of their sins? The good news is that Jesus forgives the sins of those who repent and turn to him. Who are you telling today?
Then Jesus calls Levi the tax collector to follow him. This outrages some of the religious people of the day. Tax collectors were considered to be great sinners. Jesus quickly shares his impression that just as sick people need a doctor, sinners need a savior and he has come to save.
Have you considered that Jesus came not to judge but to save? Great sinners need a great savior. When you see people apart from Christ living in great sin, do not be afraid. Jesus came to save sinners! You have great news to share. (Some people in my town are confused on this they think the gospel is shouting at people, “You’re going to Hell!” what they should really be telling people is that, “Jesus came to save you from Ever having to go to Hell.”)
Next the religious leaders come to Jesus because his disciples aren’t conforming to the religious pattern of the day by fasting. Jesus responds that when it’s time for them to fast, they will fast. There is a huge difference between conforming to tradition and genuine fasting. Genuine fasting will be wrought in the lives of the disciples over the next few years as they experience life with Jesus, witness his death and resurrection.
The religious leaders again approach Jesus over the issue of the Sabbath. Religious tradition had added so many rules to the Sabbath that they had obscured the real meaning. God made the Sabbath day as a gift for men, but the leaders had made it into a cumbersome burden for men to keep. People took great pride in being Sabbath keepers, but had lost the meaning.
Question: are more concerned with the appearance of righteousness than actually trusting God? Sometimes it’s easy for us to fall into the trap of trying to make ourselves look good by the things we do or no longer do. Jesus makes it clear that he didn’t come to help people who think they are doing well, but those who know that they aren’t.