“Whoever wishes to take up [Christianity]…must discard as irrelevant…two questions, ‘How can I be good?’ and ‘How can I do good,’ and instead of these he must ask the utterly and totally different question “What is the will of God?” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Today’s moment in Mark challenges us NOT to live a life like the Scribes and Pharisees who sought after being and doing good, but to truly do the will of God. Take a moment to read today’s passage.
John’s disciples and the Pharisees are all fasting when we pick up in our reading. The people notice that Jesus and His disciples are not fasting and question Him. Jesus’ response begins to set the stage for not abolishing the Mosaic law, but fulfilling as well as revealing that a new age had come.
Throughout the Gospel of Mark, one sees the Pharisees and Scribes in the midst of the crowd, listening, questioning, and examining this new teacher on the scene. However, they seem to be seeing Jesus as a threat to their identity and position amongst the people. Obeying and enforcing the law have bound up their lives and Jesus and His disciples seem to be nullifying all that they stand for. Even though the Pharisees and scribes followed along with the crowd and the disciples, they come away with different experiences. In fact, as you read you might want to note how each group of individuals view Jesus.
- The crowd sees Jesus as one who teaches with authority (1:27)
- The Scribes see Jesus as one who forgives sins (2:7)
- The Scribes and Pharisees see Jesus as one who eats with tax collectors and sinners (2:16)
- The unclean spirits and demons see Jesus as Jesus—Nazarene (1:24), Holy One of God (1:24), Son of God (3:11)
- The Pharisees see Jesus as one breaking the Sabbath (2:24) and healing on the Sabbath (3:2-5)
Jesus will later question His own disciples as to who they say He is. This question must be asked of each of us as well. Who do we think Jesus is and how do we respond to Him? Will we continue to hold onto the questions of ‘How can we be good and do good?’ Or will we truly seek to do the will of the Father?
The subject of keeping the Sabbath as well as fasting will come up again in the book of Mark so I am not going to address it any further today. But, if you are searching for some resources regarding a biblical perspective on fasting as well as keeping the Sabbath, I have found the following books helpful: The Power of Prayer and Fasting by Ronnie Floyd and Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva J. Dawn