Jesus, Friend of Sinners

I’m guilty. Guilty of constantly changing the narrative of the story to put myself in the best light and come out looking better than I actually am. I introduce slight variations and constantly tweak the story. I consciously avoid specifics or other elements of the story that make me look bad or cast a negative light. Or, I simply justify my attitude and behavior based on what I want to hear or believe about myself.

If you were to ask me anything about my life and rate it on a scale of 1-10, even in my best attempt to be honest and vulnerable, it’s highly likely my number would be no less than one number above what it truly is. “How is your personal joy today?” I give it a nine (it’s really a seven). “How is your daily prayer life?” A seven (more like six). “How about your feelings of bitterness and frustration?” Yikes, getting real now … a six, I need some work here (try four — maybe three — this week). I’m a mess.

Adam and Eve had the same problem (recall Genesis 3).

God, “Who told you to eat from the tree?”
Adam, “The woman did!”
Eve, “The talking serpent made me to do it!”

Now I know where I get it from, it’s in my genes.

The natural operations of our heart is to blame-shift, self-protect, avoid, self-justify and falsify authenticity. Even in our best and most honest efforts, we maintain a corrupted, distorted, and prideful sense of self. After all, we’re creatures under the fall and distant from glory. So often, this also is our approach to reading Scripture. We fail to see the real message, identify the real need, and rightly apply the gracious and wonderful hope to which it speaks into our lives today.

So what do we learn from the story of Jesus who heals the paralytic that was lowered through the roof of a first-century Galilean home, and the call of Levi the tax collector? How do these stories from Mark 2:1-17 apply to our discussion here? A simple, profound, and healing message: Jesus restores sinners.