Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

11/06/2019

Jeff Grisham

 

Evaluating Jesus

 

  At the beginning of Mark chapter two we find a series of conflict episodes in the ministry of Jesus.

 

• The first one is found in verses 1 through 12 when Jesus heals the paralytic and pronounces his sins forgiven.

 

• The second is in conjunction with the call of Levi (Matthew).

 

• The third is in the question about fasting.

 

• The fourth and fifth have to do with the Sabbath traditions of the Jews during the days of Jesus.

 

  There are several things we can find in these episodes as given to us by Mark. We see Jesus with the authority to forgive sins. We see Jesus who is willing to reach out to those that respectable religious folks want to keep at arm’s length. We hear Jesus telling those around Him that the old way of doing things will not be sufficient to carry what God is doing now. We hear Him identify Himself as the anointed-but-not-yet-enthroned King of Israel, and assert Himself as the Lord of the Sabbath. When we move on into chapter three, we see Jesus establish Himself as the Lawgiver as He heals a man on the Sabbath. There are so many things that we can see and discuss about the identity of Jesus from these episodes. There is also something that we may overlook. It is something that may seem to be a small detail, but I think it has huge implications for those of us who follow Jesus even today.

 

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?” (Mark2:18 ESV)

 

One Sabbath He was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, His disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”

(Mark 2:23-24 ESV)

 

  I believe that these two questions that Jesus is asked illustrate something that should have a significant impact on Christians today. Think through this with me for just a minute. In each of these scenes Jesus is asked about the behavior of His disciples. Why? The disciples were present. Why not just ask them? I believe it is because Jesus is the Rabbi, the Teacher, the Master. His competence as a leader is evaluated by how His disciples act. Those who are wondering about the identity of Jesus are evaluating Him based on the way His disciples behave.

 

  This is not the only place where we see this in Scripture. In fact, this principle goes all the way back to the beginning. Adam and Eve were created to be image bearers of God. Israel is rescued from Egypt, brought to Mount Sinai, and told there that they are to be a “kingdom of priests” and “a holy nation.” They were to be different from the nations around them so that others may come to know the God of Israel. Jesus, in John 13, tells His disciples that the world will know that they belong to Him if they love one another the way He loved them. In His prayer that John records for us in John 17, Jesus says that His followers are to be united so that the world may believe that God sent Him.

 

  Two thousand years have passed and this principle is still alive and well. Jesus continues to be judged based on the behavior of His followers.

 

• Think about the public fall of those who claim to follow Christ.

 

• Think of how Christians are talked about when immoral behavior is discovered to be present within a church.

 

• What picture of Jesus is presented to the unbelieving world when conflicts are caused and violence is committed in the name of the Christian religion?

 

  While we are not involved in these things that were just mentioned, we are still faced with the sobering truth that Jesus is still evaluated based on the behavior of those who wear His name.

 

  How are we doing? Are we representing Him well? We want the world around us to know Jesus and experience the healing and restoration that only He can bring, but what can we do? After all, we cannot be responsible for the actions of others who claim to follow Jesus, but fail in terrible and often public ways. What you and I can do is to spend more time with Jesus. Follow Him around through the pages of the Gospels and be mindful of the impact our actions have on the faith of others. Spend time cooperating with the Holy Spirit in His work to transform our lives into the image of Jesus. Like those early disciples, we will not always get it right, but the more time we spend with Him, the better we will do. May God help us to be faithful witnesses, faithful representatives of the King who saved us.

 

—Jeff Grisham