Seated beside sick sinners

PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.


READ: Mark 2:12-17

I know a thing or three about being sick. I’m a cancer survivor and have stood in the need of prayer and waited on God to move for 12-month stretches of time. Sick sucks! There were times when I thought, why would God commune with me when I have zero strength to serve him in seemingly any capacity? As illustrated in the Gospel of Mark, I was just who Jesus sought but remained convinced that I had no sin in my life. Actually, I was in a prime position to receive both forgiveness and a miraculous healing because my Savior is full of compassion.

In six brief verses sectioned into three parts, Mark 2:12—17 continues with more deeds of action performed by Jesus:

12 Immediately he got up, picked up the mat, and went out in front of everyone. As a result, they were all astounded and gave glory to God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”( Mark 2:12-17)

The aforementioned emphasizes both the immediate (and obedient) manner in which the paralytic is healed. He presented himself in front of the gathered crowds and the word “astounded” is used to describe their awe. It’s a funny parallel because people often look at me and say, “You don’t look like what you’ve been through.” Indeed I do not, and while we have all witnessed healing on some level, the crowd gathered in Mark affirmed that they had “never see anything like this!”

­­­­­­­            Matthew is called

13 Then Jesus went out again beside the sea. The whole crowd was coming to Him, and He taught them. 14 Then, moving on, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” So he got up and followed Him.

Jesus could never be accused of being a one trick pony. His ministry was widespread and He knew where to position himself so crowds would form. “Beside the sea” was a prime location and it was there that he saw Matthew (Levi the son of Alphaeus). The action of immediate continues to reign as a theme because two things happened: Jesus said, “Follow Me” and Matthew got up and did so. End of story!

Dining with Sinners

15 While He was reclining at the table in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also guests with Jesus and His disciples, because there were many who were following Him. 16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked His disciples, “Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

17 When Jesus heard this, He told them, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do need one. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Tax collectors in biblical times were considered scum of the earth. While their roles were necessary to building community, they certainly weren’t the type of people you wanted as friends, and sinners held a reputation equally grim. Jesus embraced them both and prefaced the decision with his own purpose which was one of spiritual servitude. The Pharisees were essentially arrogant “do-gooders” who questioned Jesus’ choice. Later, in Acts 10:34, we learn that “God is no respecter of persons,” meaning that he shows no partiality and loves us all the same. Jesus longs to commune with us all, especially sinners, and in much the same way hospitals seek to service and heal the sick.


Reflection Questions:

  1. Where have you experienced the immediate grace of Jesus in your life?  
  2. How fast or hesitant are you to submit when you hear the voice of the Lord?
  3. How do you think the tax collectors and sinners felt when Jesus both sat with them and spoke honestly about their sin?

Memorize: Mark 2:17

This week's devotional is written by Penny Dickerson. Penny is a City Church Owner who serves on our Guest Services Team. She is also a professional journalist.