The Distinction of Jesus - Mark 2:13-3:6

The culture we grow up in powerfully affects our attitude towards behavior we deem as “normal” or “abnormal.” If you grew up with a big family that enjoyed debating current events, that likely shapes how you react to challenging comments on controversial issues. Have you ever thought something was wrong only to learn that it's just different from the culture you grew up in? If so, explain.  

Jesus profoundly changed the religious culture of his day.  He challenged conventional wisdom about associating with sinners, fasting, and sabbath keeping.  Following Jesus means we allow him to move us out of our comfort zones; we make room to connect with people, even if doing so might feel awkward.

Mark 2:13-3:6
13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

3 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
  • Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors. His association with immoral people was hugely controversial. What fears do you have if you open up your life to outsiders?  
  • When Jesus said that new wine needs new wineskins, he was saying that old ways of doing things were not going to be able to contain his teachings.  As you consider Jesus’ teaching, are there ways you are doing life that Jesus might call “old wineskins”?  If so, what are they? 
  • When Jesus looked at the Pharisees before healing the man with a withered hand, he was angry. Do you think it was fitting that he was upset? 

  • God often works in and through people considered unlikely candidates for becoming church people. Has God ever used someone outside your culture to show you something important about God and his ways?
  • The value of new wineskins is that they were flexible and could stretch to fit the new wine.  In what ways may God be stretching you to fit into Jesus’ teaching? 
  • Jesus had compassion for the man with the withered man.  How is God growing your compassion for others? How does it impact you to know he has tenderness for you and the pain in your life?

This week notice all the ways Jesus’ teaching challenges our cultural assumptions. Pay special attention to how following Jesus is still radical and costly and a pathway to lasting joy.