The word “Friend” is a powerful word, and we all need friends to help us make it through the struggles of life. The book of Proverbs has much to say about friends: A friend loves at all times … there is a friend who stays closer than a brother….the sweetness of a friend’s counsel comes from the heart. (Proverbs 17:17; 18:24; 27:9)
Our text begins with a courageous act of friendship. Jesus is teaching in a home and crowds of people came to hear him. So much that the house was packed. Four men had a friend on a mat who could not walk. He was dependent on others. Considered a sinner because of his impairment. Seeking healing he knew others had received.But they could not get to Jesus! They went up on the roof. Cut a hole in the roof and lowered their friend in! Jesus saw their FAITH: “Son, your sins are forgiven”. This stirred the religious leaders up. He was being a friend to a sinner. He was offering forgiveness of sins.
Right away Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were thinking like this within themselves and said to them, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat, and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he told the paralytic— 11 “I tell you: get up, take your mat, and go home.” 12 Immediately he got up, took the mat, and went out in front of everyone. As a result, they were all astounded and gave glory to God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”Mark 2:8-12
Jesus is AMAZING! Everyone was amazed and praised God. Jesus was a great friend to humanity. He loved everyone.You may have never thought of Jesus as a friend, but you have never had a better friend that Jesus Christ. What makes Jesus such an amazing friend?
Jesus went out again beside the sea. The whole crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 Then, passing by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the toll booth…Mark 2:13-14a
Jesus was busy and had plenty to do, but he never let that keep him from seeing the people around him. In the crowds of people – he saw Levi. Jesus was alway watching…never off duty. He did not dismiss him as impossible / undesirable. Others in the crowd would have not paid attention.
Levi … Matthew … Hated by his own people: Regarded as a traitor Barclay: The Call of the Man Whom All Men Hated. Lane: A Jewish Tax Collector was regarded as an outcast from society: disqualified as a judge or a witness in a court, excommunicated from the synagogue, and in the eyes of the community his disgrace extended to his family. How do you think people spoke to him each day? What would his Twitter account look like? How Did the Romans regard him? Easily replaced. Maybe the kind word from Jesus was the first he heard that day…that month.
Two thoughts here:
Who do you need to see today? Keep your eyes open! Notice people, not ‘jobs’ or ‘failures’. Never discount someone based on snap judgment. Barclay: What a harvest we could gather in if we looked for men for Christ as we walked!
Do you see yourself in Levi? Rejected, ignored, accused – notice that Jesus sees you.
…and he said to him, “Follow me,” and he got up and followed him.Mark 2:14b
“Follow Me”. Jesus attracted followers with just a few words. But not everyone followed Jesus. Levi did. Barclay: Of all the disciples Matthew gave up most. He, of all of them , literally left all to follow Jesus. The fishermen could go back to the boats. … But Matthew burned his boats completely. With one decision he put himself out of a job forever …. He staked everything on Christ, and he was not wrong. What is Jesus speaking into your life today?
Jesus is our greatest friend because his friendship is not based upon our performance, our perfection, or our
While he was reclining at the table in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who were following him.Mark 2:15
Joyous gathering -celebration, fellowship, smiles. Why? What was it that these people had to be happy? What do you think Matthew told his friends when he invited them over? Matthew’s friends were not high society. He was a reject, and so would his friends have been the outcasts. Nothing could have demonstrated the difference between Jesus and the Scribes than this! Was Matthew was wealthy? A great party!
Sharing a meal is a time of building relationships. When is the last time you shared a meal with someone you hoped to reach for Christ? Never put down meal times together – it was a way that Jesus used to reach out.
Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.Acts 2:46-47
When the scribes who were Pharisees[c] saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”Mark 2:16-17
Jesus was on mission. We also must remember our calling to the sick, those who need our help … God’s help. Be on the lookout for the moment when you can give the gospel call into the life of someone near you.
Jesus is the kind of friend who sees, speaks, eats, and calls. It is amazing that Jesus is that kind of friend to us. He Sees you, He Speaks to you, He Fellowships with You, He Calls to you. Jesus is our great friend who accepts us where we are, but leads us closer to Him each day. He’s our greatest friend … but are you a friend to Him?
LifeGroup Questions Mark 2:1-17
- The dedication of the four friends of the lame man is really amazing. Can you think of some reasons why the actions of these four men might be irritating to those nearest Jesus? Imagine yourself in that setting and relate some ways that this might not have been welcomed by those present.
- When Jesus saw these four men and what they did he noticed their faith. Why is it important to have friends who are people of faith? What friend of faith, outside of your family, has had the greatest influence on you?
- What did Jesus mean when he asked the question, “Which is easier to say?” Why would it be easier to say “your sins are forgiven”?
- Why were the Scribes so unhappy with Jesus on such a joyful event such as the healing of the lame man? How can Christians sometimes fall into the pit of being unhappy when a brother or sister is rejoicing?
- What might be unusual about Jesus calling Levi to come be a disciple? Why might it be easy to overlook an unlikely disciple?
- Jesus moves from the calling of Levi to eating at his table along with a crowd of non-disciples. What do you learn from this? How do you think we can balance friendship with non-disciples with the need to be separate from the world?
- Jesus said, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). How is this best demonstrated in our lives? (Consider our lost friends, the church, our worship at church, our our spiritual life)