4 January 2018

Hi it’s Mick and welcome to today’s Podcast.

I said at the beginning of this week that Mark’s gospel is such an exciting read, full of examples of how to put this Jesus life into practice – how to live out our faith every day. Today’s passage is no exception, it’s Mark 2:1-17; it begins with this dramatic story of healing and forgiveness by Jesus as a paralysed man is let down through the roof by his friends. It’s a great story but let’s take a little time to reflect on v15 today.

REFLECTION

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.

This is story about kindness – more particularly, the kindness of Jesus. Picture the scene if you can; Jesus invites this man Levi to follow him and then has dinner at Levi’s house with Levi’s mates. No big deal, you might say, except that this story is so mind blowingly radical! Why? Levi is a tax collector.

In today’s world the taxman is not the most popular people group unless you are one, or you are married to one, or you have one in your family in which case you are greatly loved! Seriously, it is a good, right and Godly thing to pay tax and we need to pray for all those involved in our tax system. However, in Jesus day the taxman was one of the most despised of people. They worked for the Roman oppressors, overcharged massively and pocketed the difference. They were real scallywags!

Jesus shows this man real kindness. To be kind is to show care and concern, to be considerate towards others and their needs, to be generous towards others, to show real affection. Kindness is powerful. Kindness is a characteristic of love (1 Cor 13:4); kindness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22); kindness leads us to repentance, to turn back to God (Romans 2:4). Paul writes to Titus these words ‘when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us’ (Titus 3:4) Jesus is kindness itself.

Jesus befriended Levi and shared his life with him and his friends over a meal. Verse 16 tells us that the church and political authorities didn’t get this at all – power brokers in suits never ‘get’ Jesus because kindness always challenges power and control, which at heart is all about me. Kindness confronts selfishness.

It’s 2018, the time has come to follow Jesus and proclaim his Kingdom. Let’s begin by showering people with kindness this year! Let’s resolve to show kindness to someone at least once a day this year. Imagine each of us showing 365 or so acts of kindness this year – that would really be amazing!

How? Top tip – keep it simple! Perhaps a smile, a thank you, a phone call, a text, a gift, a visit, offering your seat, buying someone a coffee, taking home-made biscuits to work, if you can’t bake just take shop bought biscuits to work till you learn how to bake! Invite someone for a meal, or perhaps even invite a Levi character for a meal, the list is endless. Start small – start where you are and with who you are and see what happens. Kindness is contagious; once you start it just takes over. Our vision at STC for 2018 is ‘Join Us in Building Community’ (listen again to Tuesday’s Podcast). It’s time to change the world one home and one kindness at a time!

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, you are so kind! You lived a life of care and concern and generosity towards others. It’s not always easy to be kind but we know it’s the right way to live – your way to live. Teach me to be kind today and every day. Amen.

READING: MARK 2:1-17

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralysed man, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up, take your mat and walk”? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’

Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’