Jesus came to bring change, to usher in a new world order. To turn things the right-way round so we can enjoy this life and find eternal life. He came to fix what was damaged and restore what was broken. But, to do that, He needed to change the old ways!
In Mark 3 we begin to get a glimpse of how things will be changed because of Jesus.
Religion will change. The Law, the old way, governed Israel’s religion. You were included based on what you did or didn’t do with reference to the Law. So, the Pharisees believed they were accepted by God on the basis of their efforts … their obedience … their religion was works based! The more religious you were; the more obedient you were to the more laws, especially laws regarding the Sabbath. So when Jesus’ disciples pick corn on the Sabbath (Mark 2:23), the conclusion is they aren’t religious. When Jesus heals on the Sabbath (verse 5), the conclusion is He’s a law-breaker – not religious! Ironically, healing someone on the Sabbath is perceived as sinful; but plotting to kill someone on the Sabbath seemed acceptable (verse 6). The old way must change!
So Jesus redefines religion … He says it’s all about grace! He shows that acceptance is not about your relationship to the Law but your relationship to the Law-giver. That it was never actually about how well you kept the Sabbath but whether you realised the Sabbath was given for good, not evil; to save life, not take life (verse 4). It was given to reflect and enjoy the One who gave it for their good. The truth is, you could ‘keep’ the Sabbath but still do evil if you failed to love and help someone in need on the Sabbath … because, if you love God, you’ll hold out His grace to people – even on the Sabbath! And that’s exactly what Jesus did (verse 5).
We must be careful not to reduce the gospel to a set of rules and regulations … it’s a gospel of grace that changes hearts, that transforms lives and relationships. We must be careful not to reduce the church to a place of law to which people can only belong if they behave how we want them to. No, people belong to God’s family by grace; because they believe and so have a relationship with the Saviour who heals not just hands, but our hearts. We belong because we believe in the One who came to bring change … life transforming change through the work of His grace. Of course, when we believe, when we belong to Him, we will change our behaviour accordingly to live a life pleasing the Law-giver, the Lord, our gracious Saviour. Because we’ll always, in every situation, seek to do God’s will and show ourselves to be part of Jesus’ new community of grace (verse 35).
Are you living under grace, under Jesus; or are you still enslaved to the old ways of legalism?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that Jesus came to move us from being under the Law to bing under grace. Thank you that He showed mercy and grace, even on the Sabbath. Thank you that He brought about real change, heart change, in the lives of His people. Help us to live as those under grace and help us to live our lives in a manner that reflects we’ve been changed by Jesus. Amen.