Lunch Time Devotionals
Mark 2:17 “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
“Who Needs a Doctor?”
The setting of today’s passage is Jesus eating dinner at Levi’s house with many tax collectors. In those days, the word for tax collector was synonymous with sinners. No one liked them! The Pharisees were a powerful group. They were set “apart” from others and focused on external observance of the Law. When they prayed, they made sure everyone heard it. When they fasted, they made sure everyone knew that they were hungry! Since the Pharisees were focused on the externals, they were critical of Jesus dining with “sinners.”
Jesus response was simple, yet incisive. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Since the Pharisees did not consider themselves as sick, they did not need Jesus’ intervention. So, Jesus was spending time with the people who acknowledged their need for Him!
People without known medical problems or symptoms rarely, if ever, seek medical attention. It is the sick who seek intervention. Unfortunately, the Pharisees did not know they were ill. It is analogous to a person with severe coronary artery disease without chest pain. This person is oblivious to impending physical disaster, just as the Pharisees were oblivious to their impending spiritual disaster.
The reality is that: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” (Matthew 5:3). In other words, blessed are those who understand that there is no true righteousness apart from Him.
We all are spiritually ill. We all need spiritual intervention by Jesus. Humble yourself before the Lord!
Mark 4:18-19 “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things, come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”
In the “rat race” of life, there are many, many things that divert our attention from God. These things are called “thorns.” What are they? Thorns are anything that causes one to worry. They are concerns over material things and wealth. They may be concerns over your health or concern for family or loved ones. In short, anything or any activity which doesn’t focus us on God in a “thorn.”
When you worry about anything, you are basically saying, “God doesn’t know what He is doing with my life.” You are saying that God is not sufficient or He is uninformed. Any variation on this theme is theologically wrong and will impair your spiritual growth.
Concern for wealth or things is equally detrimental. Again, you are saying, “God doesn’t know what I need. He doesn’t know what makes me content. Remember, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21). If you are focused on wealth and possessions, your heart’s focus will not be on God. He wants your undivided attention! “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33).
To grow spiritually, you must eliminate these “thorns.” You cannot just chop them off or spray them with “Round-up.” These thorns must be pulled out by the roots. What is choking out your growth? What thorns do you need to eliminate? You must do it. God won’t do it for you. It’s your choice. He made us with free will. If you are effective, you will be commended by the Lord!
Mark 7:8 “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”
“The Commands of God”
In our passage today from Mark 7, Jesus and His disciples were eating. They were observed by the Pharisees. Remember them? This group of men prided themselves on their external behavior. They noticed that Jesus and the disciples did not ceremonially wash before they ate. The Pharisees seized the opportunity to criticize Jesus. What was Jesus’ reply? “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Mark 7:6-7).
Externally, they appeared to be correct, but their motives were impure. Their behavior was not driven from a pure heart in order to please God. Their behavior was driven by a desire to be commended by men. “For it is not the one who commands himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” (2 Corinthians 10:18). The Pharisees regarded the esteem of others more than the esteem of God. Often we fall into the same trap and, in fact, use such things as a measure of a person’s worth. Consider how most men meet someone:” Hey my name is …what do you do?”
There are several issues from this passage that we can apply today! First, God sees our hearts. He judges our true motives. He knows when our actions are not in concert with our hearts. This may apply to worship, service to others or many other areas. “Don’t go through the motions.” You cannot fool God with your “good” external behavior.
Secondly, the commendation that matters most is the one that comes from God. The pleasure that your life gives to God should be your motivation to live righteously.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Mark 10:43-45 “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
The disciples were with Jesus everyday. But, there were many things that they were slow to learn. James and John, for example, asked Jesus to sit at His right and His left in glory. Not that the other disciples were so spiritual, but they were quite indignant that James and John would ask for this. It was probably because they hadn’t thought about it first! Jesus used the moment to teach a major principle.
THE SPIRITUAL LIFE IS NOT ABOUT POSITION. It is about service! If we strive for position, we will miss the blessing. The way to set aside treasure for the world to come is by using our time, our money and our spiritual gifts for God’s glory. It’s not about us; it’s about God.
Jesus was the ultimate example of servanthood. He gave up the glory of heaven, reigning at the Father’s right hand, to become a man. He was born as a commoner and worked as a carpenter. His mission was to conquer death and die for our sins. HE CAME TO SERVE.
Therefore, we need to follow His example. Look to serve others. By doing so, you will store up treasures in heaven.
“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Mark 13:31 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
“My Words Will Endure”
What can you place your trust in? Your friends? Your family? The church? The government? No, all these things are temporal. Even trustworthy people cannot guarantee certain things. The only one you can place your entire trust in is Jesus Christ!
Why? Because He is eternal: He co-created the world with the Father. He was there in the beginning (John 1:1). He is eternal and His words endure forever. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows exactly how your life will play out.
What a comfort our Savior’s words are: “My words will never pass away.” We worship a risen Savoir whose death and resurrection have eternal consequences. What Jesus said over 2000 years ago is valid for us today. When life becomes difficult, always remember His words. He will never leave you or forsake you. His words are always true. They will never pass away (Hebrews 13:5). Our relationship with Jesus is not temporal, but eternal. Be comforted with these truths.
And remember: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
THE MEASURE OF A LIFE IS NOT ITS DURATION BUT ITS DEVOTION: Corrie ten Boon