The Jews lived in a time of anticipation. Most of their practices and rituals were done in regards to anticipation. The order of the Jewish day was evening morning. Their day started when the sun went down and they went to sleep. They anticipated that God was going to do something. The Sabbath and fasting were times of anticipation as well. God was in control. God was going to do something. All of these things were to be a continual reminder of God’s work to be done in the world. There is a lot more to these practices but I’m oversimplifying for the point of these passages.
We live in a different time. A time that has been redefined by the resurrection. When does our day start (Think about before we had clocks)? It starts when the sun comes up. Christ has risen. A new day has dawned. The reason Christians began meeting on Sunday instead of Saturday is because Sunday is the first day of the week. The day Jesus was resurrected. The first day of the new creation. When Christ came, redemption came with him…the very thing the Jews were anticipating. He is the new wine to be poured into new wineskins. Let him make you new. He is the Lord of the Sabbath. The anticipation of God acting is fulfilled in Christ. We are no longer in a time of waiting because Christ has brought about redemption for a creation that is broken. We live in a time of doing because Christ has already begun God’s work of redemption and he has called us to join him.
Crowds flock to Jesus because of what he is doing to redeem this brokenness. They don’t just come alone but they bring their friend. I love that in the first story, it is because of the faith of the guys carrying the paralyzed man that Jesus forgave him of his sins. How awkward would it be then to have Jesus turn around to the crowd, look at the teachers of the law, and address the things in which they were thinking? In case there was any confusion as to who Jesus is…he asked which would be easier, “to forgive or to heal?” He then heals the guy as well. Jesus didn’t just come to bring redemption of the brokenness of the body but also redemption of the brokenness of souls.
Jesus gives us a different way of looking at the world. He turns the social order on its head. I don’t think I ever recognized that when Jesus called Levi he was in the middle of walking and teaching a large crowd. As a great object lesson as to what he is all about. He stops and calls the tax collector in front of everyone. He came for the sick…not those who think they are healthy. The sooner we realize our brokenness the sooner we will turn to the doctor.
Jesus came to turn the world on its end. To show God’s people what God intended His creation to look like in the first place. He reminds us that those who are despised by society can be taken in, redeemed, and transformed into His likeness in order to change the world. When I read passages like these I have to ask myself if I have too many Christian friends. Am I befriending the people Jesus hung out with in order to be a presence of peace in their lives?