We come upon the scene of the crime in Mark 2. It is chock full of code violations.
- Failure to obtain permit to gather
- Too many people for the size of the structure
- Failure to have sufficient port-a-potties
- Breaking and entering (literally!)
- Not ADA compliant for handicap accessibility
Here is the police as reported in Mark 2:1-4 [TPT]
Several days later, Jesus returned to Capernaum and the news quickly spread that he was back in town. Soon there were so many people crowded inside the house to hear him that there was no more room, even outside the door. While Jesus was preaching the Word of God, four men arrived, carrying a paralyzed man. But when they realized that they couldn’t even get near him because of the crowd, they went up on top of the house and tore away the roof above Jesus’ head. And when they had broken through, they lowered the paralyzed man on a stretcher right down in from of him!
Number of rules broken = 7
Listening to Jesus in person = priceless
Some religious scholars were at the scene. They were so busy with the rules, they could not see the forest for the trees. Jesus was in their midst! Now I’m not condoning a “do as you please” attitude. We are a civilized society because we have rules and protections in place to help govern behavior. God has also provided us the Bible as our code book so we may live righteous lives. This is not the Wild West anymore folks.
A Pharisee was a member of a Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretations and observance of the Mosaic law in both its oral and written forms. (American Heritage) It also defined them as a hypocritically self-righteous person.
Apparently there were 613 commandments to be followed, and the Pharisees were proud in their ability to do so, to the point of being pretentious and acting with superior sanctity, to set themselves apart. They focused on the external practices of following the law, but not the internal transforming power of an intimate relationship with Jesus.
“Great sorrow awaits you religious scholars and Pharisees—frauds and impostors! You are nothing more that tombs painted with fresh coats of white painted tombs that look shining and beautiful on the outside, but within are found decaying corpses full of nothing but corruption. Outwardly you masquerade as righteous people, but inside your hearts are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”(Matt. 23:27-28 [TPT])
Jesus said lawlessness. A complete 180 degrees from following the law. They were so caught up in following the letter of the law, they blew right past the intent of God.
Enter Saul of Tarsus, (a.k.a. Paul, the Apostle). He was the poster child for following the rules. “It’s true that I once relied on all that I had become. I had a reason to boast and impress people with my accomplishments―more than others―for my pedigree was impeccable. I was born a true Hebrew of the heritage of Israel, as the son of a Jewish man from the tribe of Benjamin. I was circumcised eight days after my birth and was raised in the strict tradition of Orthodox Judaism, living a separated and devote life as a Pharisee. And concerning the righteousness of the Torah, no one surpassed me; I was without peer. Furthermore, as a fiery defender of the truth, I persecuted the Messianic believers with religious zeal. Yet all of the accomplishments that I once took credit for, I’ve now forsaken them and I regard it all as nothing compared to the delight of experiencing Jesus Christ as my Lord! To truly know him meant letting go of everything from my past and throwing all my boasting on the garbage heap. It’s all like a pile of manure to me now. So that I may be enriched in the reality of knowing Jesus Christ and embrace him as Lord in all of his greatness. My passion is to be consumed with him and not clinging to my own ‘righteousness’ based on keeping the written Law. My ‘righteousness’ will be based on the faithfulness of Jesus Christ―the very righteousness that comes from God.” (Phil. 3:4-9 [TPT])
“For we have already experienced ‘heart-circumcision,’ and we worship God in the power and freedom of the Holy Spirit, not in laws and religious duties. We are those who boast in what Jesus Christ has done, and not in what we can accomplish in our own strength.” (Phil. 3:3 [TPT])
Legal obedience of following the God’s laws is an attempt to get God to love me. It forgets the fact that God no longer even sees my sins because Jesus clothed me in his righteousness when I accepted Him as my Savior. It’s like denying that God’s grace is good enough. When I honestly pursue Jesus, I’m focusing on His love for me, and live humbly and gratefully, for Him.
You do good because you want to, not because you have to. You do good out of sheer gratitude and thankfulness that Jesus saved you from death, and gives you freedom here and now, to live a better existence. It should be a joyful act, not an obligation to the law, or a duty to bear.
“How can I repay the Lord for all His acts of kindness to me? I will celebrate my deliverance, and call upon the name of the Lord.” (Ps. 116:12-13 [NET])
My prayer is that I don’t get caught up in pride that I can follow religious rules. I don’t want to be like a toddler and say, “I can do it by myself!” I don’t want to pad my spiritual resume with stuff that really doesn’t matter to my living in the will of God. He is my only judge; the only one I’m concerned about “proving” myself to. I need to live gratefully for Him.
Because if someone like Saul can change into Paul, then there is hope for ALL of us!
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