Monday, May 14, 2012

Jesus came for the unwell

Jesus wants to hang out with imperfect people. The first two chapters of Mark’s Gospel make this clear. Chapter One introduces Jesus:
  • Vs 1: “Jesus Christ – the Son of God”
  • Vs 12: “the Beloved Son”
  • Vs 24: “the Holy One of God”
Here is God’s man – one who is special to God – one who is recognized as being holy. We would logically expect that a holy man should spend his time in the synagogues of the villages and the Temple in Jerusalem… basically hanging out with the religious people. But Mark springs the surprise: Jesus does not go to the religious people:
Mar 1:40  “A leper came to him begging him…” This is a man who was thought to be under God’s curse, but Jesus embraces him with love.
Mark 2 vs 1 tells of a paralyzed man lying on his bed being brought to Jesus … another cursed man who is loved by Jesus.
Mark 2: 14 introduces Levi the Tax collector into Jesus’s circle of friends. This was someone who by collecting the Roman taxes from his own people was considered a traitor to the nation. Here is one cast out of the community of faith, but befriended by Jesus!
Finally Mark 2 vs 23 tells how the four men who were with Jesus (Peter, Andrew, James and John) refused to fast and broke the Sabbath Laws. Jesus friends were irreligious unbelievers and men without the rituals of faith.  
To sum up, it would seem that Jesus spent his time with:
Ø  People who seemed cursed by God
Ø        People who were cast out of their community
Ø  People who had no faith
Which makes me feel a whole lot better!
Mark’s Gospel offers me hope, because I have moments when I am not perfect:
Ø I have moments when I am like the man on the mat – I feel sick and tired, and other people need to get me to Jesus because I am paralyzed by the pressures of life.
Ø I have moments when I am like Levi – I am distracted by the play-things of life, and I betray the values of Jesus.
Ø I have moments when I do not get all my religious rituals right:
It is good news to know that Jesus will still hang out with me!
At the same time I am challenged to offer the same courtesy to other people. There is often the temptation to write off people because they do not fit into my religious expectations:
My most recent experience of this is to be found with my friend Ross Olivier, who committed suicide 10 days ago. A number of people have suggested that he must have lost his faith / or that he had betrayed his faith / and that he would be cursed by God.
And as I read the actions of Jesus in Mark I am able to answer: “Well it seems like this is the kind of person that Jesus hung out with”. You see, Jesus intentionally chose to be with those who are paralyzed by life, or who seem to have betrayed their faith, or seem to feel cursed by God and society. I am convinced that God was with Ross in those black moments when he could no longer cope with life: and that God’s embrace held him in his desperate flight from life. And that God welcomed him the other side of death.

Allow me to ask whether there are outcasts of society that we might know? And allow me to challenge us to offer them the same unconditional love and acceptance that Jesus did … this is called Grace.

1 comment:

Julia MItchell said...

Very helpful in dealing with the loss of Ross. Thank you.