The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), September 30
Everywhere Jesus goes He looks for faith. He doesn’t find it where it should abound; instead, He finds it in the most unlikely of people. And He wrecks the theology of the religious crowd in the process. He finds faith:
- In a packed room (Mt. 9:1-8)
Crowds pack around Jesus to hear Him and nearly prevent those with faith from having access to Him. People of faith find ways to get to Jesus. The four friends of the paralytic simply rip open the roof and lower their friend to Jesus’ feet. Each Synoptic Gospel account explicitly notes faith as the determining factor of healing, “When Jesus saw their faith…” (Mk. 2:5; Mt. 9:2; Lk. 5:20). Faith penetrates a crowd of unbelief, receives healing from Jesus, and walks away from the crowd forgiven, but the crowd leaves untouched.
- At the lakeside (Mt. 9:9-13)
A large crowd gathers beside the lake to hear Jesus teach, and it is from a tax collector’s booth that Jesus singles out and calls a man to himself. Levi invites all of his friends—“tax collectors and sinners”—to meet with Jesus and his disciples. It is in this “unlikely” group that Jesus finds reception. Jesus comes not “to call the righteous, but sinners” to Himself (9:13).
- During a fast (Mt. 9:14-17)
John’s disciples and the Pharisees are fasting, and some people question Jesus about His and His disciples’ disregard for the fast. Jesus answers that He has not come to rescue the old, but to implement the new: “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved” (Mk. 2:21-22; Mt. 9:16-17; Lk. 5:36-38). Jesus comes to do what the Law cannot—provide forgiveness and give life.
- In the corn fields on the Sabbath (Mt. 12:1-6)
The Pharisees, who would never pick heads of grain to eat (they considered that harvesting), don’t mind confronting Jesus on the Sabbath regarding keeping the Sabbath. If the Pharisees were seriously interested in the Sabbath’s intent, they would invite Jesus and his disciples home for lunch. No, they prefer to condemn rather than to practice hospitality–for the sake of appearing religious. Jesus uses a familiar story from their honored forefather David to rebut their practice, “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” (Mt. 12:7). The self-righteousness of the Pharisees, not the eating, is the true issue.
Jesus and those who follow Him wreck the theology (and the roofs) of the Pharisees. He doesn’t come to patch up a faith-less religion, but to replace it with a relationship with Himself that anyone can have by placing faith in Him.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Lk. 5:1-39; Mk. 1:40-45; 2:1-13, 18-22; Mt. 8:1-4; 9:1-17):
Review Leviticus 13-14 and the laws regarding leprosy. What role did the priest serve in evaluating a leper? How does this compare with Jesus’ interaction with and healing of lepers?