Start Here | First Steps With Jesus

Devotional

Mark 2-3 | Forgiven & Chosen

Welcome back to Start. We’re in Mark 2 today, with one of my favorite stories. In the Bible, Jesus makes some big claims - big enough to get him killed. But anyone can claim to be anything. The question is - does Jesus prove it?In Mark 2, we find Jesus teaching in a home in Capernaum, and the word gets out. Verse 2:

“They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.”

So there’s a huge crowd, and Jesus preaches the Word - that’s the Bible. Jesus always focused on God’s Word. He also performed miracles, but Jesus called those miracles signs, and a sign points to something else. Perfect example: today’s story. Verse 3:

“Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”

Hold on. Rewind that tape. Did he just say, “Your sins are forgiven?” The man showed up for healing, not forgiveness. But Jesus knows something: there is no issue in life as big as sin and forgiveness. And watch what happens next.Some Jewish teachers are there, and they are shocked. 

“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7).

And on that last part, they’re right. To claim to forgive sins was to claim the authority of God. If it’s not true, it’s blasphemy - a very serious sin. Jesus knows their thoughts, so he poses a question. Verse 9:

“‘Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?’”

I love this question. Think about it. Which one is easier to say?“Your sins are forgiven.” That’s easy to say because no one can see it. But it’s much harder to do! Only God can forgive sin!But to say to a paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and walk” - that puts it all on the line. Everyone’s watching.So in verse 10 Jesus continues,

“‘But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone.”

The miracle here is awesome: a paralyzed man walks! But don’t miss the sign, it points to Jesus’ authorityJesus has God’s authority to forgive sins, and he proves it. And he uses it again in the very next story. In verse 13, Jesus is teaching beside a lake, and he sees Levi working as a tax collector. Now tax collectors were despised in that time, corrupt men who pocketed more than they gave the government. Wicked greed. And yet Jesus approached Levi,

“‘Follow me,’ Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him” (2:14).

There are those words again, that same invitation. But this time Jesus invites a sinner - a very bad person. And Levi follows! And when Levi invites Jesus and the disciples for dinner, there are even more sinners.Now this was especially difficult for the Pharisees to understand. The Pharisees were religious leaders - the judgmental and self-righteous kind - who just couldn’t understand. If Jesus is a good rabbi, 

“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (2:16).

Verse 17 is a profound statement:

“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.’”

Don’t miss this. Jesus chose sinners. Levi was a sinner. So were his friends. But just as a doctor comes to heal the sick, Jesus comes to forgive and restore sinners - to make them righteous. Righteous means right with God. That’s an important word. You know that feeling between two people when your relationship is right - when nothing stands between you? And you probably know that feeling when a relationship is not right - when a wall is between you because you messed up. Well, that’s where we are with God. Sin separates us. We did wrong. But the gospel - the great news - is that Jesus came to make us right again. He forgives sins, and calls us righteous. What he asks from us is faith. Righteous by faith.And even more amazing, Jesus chooses sinners, makes them right, and sends them out to serve God. In chapter 3, we’ll read as Jesus calls to himself a group of twelve, and appoints them to be apostles. A disciple follows, an apostle is sent - like an ambassador. And there in that list of twelve is Levi, only his name is changed to Matthew. Jesus chooses sinners, forgives them, heals and changes them, and he sends them out to tell all the other sinners the good news: God loves you. Amazing.And he still does it today. Read Mark 2 and 3 today. If you have time, tap “Read Full Chapter” to get the whole story. And I’ll meet you back here in chapter 4.

For Reflection & Discussion:

  • Why do you think it was so hard for the religious leaders to accept that Jesus ate with sinners?
  • Jesus makes a profound statement in 2:17, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” What does that mean to you?
  • What role has forgiveness played in your life? Share your story.