Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:1-2
Some are drawing near, yet some are drawing far.
The ones who were closing in to Jesus were sinners. They were publicly identified as sinners. No righteousness in their skin or in their heart. They have no academic knowledge of drawing near to God. All they know is to come closer to Jesus. All they know is that Jesus welcomes them. He searches for them. Jesus ate with them. He walked with them going to a dinner or a teaching session of sorts. He spoke with them in public even if they were known publicly. They felt significant when he is with them, when he took time with them, when he sat with them at the places where they would congregate.
The ones who were drawing far from Jesus were not sinners, at least for them. They were identified as righteous persons. Their piety is shown in their appearances but not sure if it has penetrated their hearts. They have an academic knowledge in drawing near to God. All they know is theory not practicality. That’s why they always put Jesus in the examination room. Yet, Jesus searches for them or they look for Jesus. Wherever they are, Jesus is there. Wherever Jesus is, there they are. Given their position, they should be near to him but they are far. They even question how they spend the Jesus welcomes and eats with the sinners. Not only they are drawing far from him, they are making people draw far from him.
What can you learn from both? You can choose to be near or far to Jesus.
Choose to draw near to Jesus. Accept you are a sinner. Accept you need a Lord and Savior. Accept you need to know him. Listen to him as he declares his unconditional love for you. Listen to Jesus and listen not to people who are putting a gap between you and him. He searches for you, search for him, too.
Don’t draw far from Jesus. Don’t prevent people to come close to him. Jesus left his throne to be near to people, make his trip worthwhile. Even as you grow in Christ, don’t let your head knowledge of him overcome your relationship with him. Let him sit with new members of your church or community. Let him eat with new believers. Be glad, he welcomed you as he welcomes them.
When given a pencil and a clean paper, you know what to sketch. Draw near.
Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him,.. Mark 7:1
They followed him like his disciples.
Yes, the Pharisees and scribes. Ever since Jesus began his ministry, they were there. They walked with him. They might have ate with him. They listened to what he said. They looked at his actions. His last step is as important as his next, for these Pharisees and scribes. They were like Peter, John, James and Andrew. They closely observed Jesus.
Mark puts it this way, “Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him,..”. Man, they stick like glue. However, they are not there to follow him. They are near him to give him questions. They throw their inquiries to cast doubts on his real followers. They examine him like a CSI agent analyzes a crime scene. Their sentences always starts with “Why”.
That was centuries ago. Today, Pharisees won’t be around you. But questions and doubts are encircling you.
“Why a lay-off?”
“Why a sickness?”
“Why a chaotic family life?”
“Why a stumbling block ahead?”
“Why a dead end job?”
“Why poverty exists in our nation?”
“Why spiritual growth is slow?”
“Why bad things happen to good people?”
“Why global warming?”
“Why a rebel child lives in your home?”
You know what? It is good to ask questions and cast your doubts to Jesus. As long as you ask them with a sincere heart wanting to be enlightened. Don’t be like these Pharisees trying to trap him or trying to trick him.
In both situations Jesus is at the center. The difference is this, for the Pharisees, Jesus is at the center of the problem. For the believers, Jesus is at the center of the solution.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Luke 24:38
We were driving on a thruway when I noticed that the fuel gauge indicated a low gas reading. At once, I decided to take the next exit since we were about 10 miles from our home. So I did that. Staring at the sign of the nearest possible exit, I diverted from our passage. I have to pull out of the route I was taking to fill up the vehicle with gas. I have to stop our journey going home. I guess, this is the case when you ran out of fuel. You pull out from the way. You stop. You divert.
When Jesus died, put in the tomb and was taken from the tomb, His followers thought they ran out of gas. They thought it was time to find the nearest exit. They thought they have to pull out of the journey. They thought they have to stop, not momentarily but maybe forever. They wept. They were scared. They were troubled. They had questions in their hearts and minds. They thought of leaving Jerusalem. After all, the Master who showed them love and marvelous miracles is dead. After all, the Master who chose them among the crowd was taken from His tomb. Not knowing His death and His rising will fuel their revived race. For Jesus’ death on the cross gave them forgiveness, not a regular kind of death but a special one. For His resurrection from the tomb gave them hope, not a regular expectation but a premium sight of eternal glory.
Friends, do you feel living your life as if you are running out of gas? You want to stop. You want to pull out of the way. You want to divert your heart and eyes from somewhere else. You want to find the nearest exit. You have fears. You have doubts. Something is troubling you. You are abandoned. You want out. As the church song goes, “Dying You destroyed our death, Rising You restored our life, Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus, come in glory!” His death on the cross and His rising fuel our walk with Him. When we follow Him, we will never run out of gas. His dying and His rising fuel our hearts not to be weary of loving God and not be tired in living for God. We can continue our journey. We will never stop. We will never divert. We will go on and on and on… We will never take an exit until we reach our Home. We will fix our hearts on the love and hope He offers. For our hearts’ tanks are full.
With His dying and His rising; look at your fuel gauge, it always reads filled up.
When the men came to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?'” At that time he cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits; he also granted sight to many who were blind. And he said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them….” Luke 7:20-22
Picture a low-level techie demonstrating to an older person how to use Yahoo Messenger or Skype for real-time communications. She has a lot of questions. How to install the software? How to make an account? How to add contacts? How to make a video call? Can she chat with others? So I received all these inquiries about using all these internet communications. I wanted to answer them in words but in my mind it will be really tough getting my points taken. I decided to demonstrate to her how to do it. We came in front of her desktop and for less than an hour I answered her curiosity and she well understood my responses to each inquiry. I answered her questions with actions.
Jesus did this. When John’s men came to Him to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’ Jesus did not say a word. Jesus did answer the question with actions. He cured the sick. He eliminated sufferings in people. He drove out demons out of people. He made the blind see. He made the lame hop and jump. He unclogged the ears of the deaf. He raised the dead to live again. He proclaimed the good news to people having bad times.
Jesus does this. When you come to Him to ask, “I thought You will provide for us?” He will give you more than financial blessings. When you come to Him to ask, “Will You please heal my wife?” Jesus extends His hands to your wife and she is healed. When you come to Him to ask, “What am I doing here?” He spreads His plan in your heart. When you come to Him to ask, “How can I serve You?” Jesus empowers you. When you come to Him to ask, “What else can I give You?”Jesus brings you more of Him.
Jesus’ words have power. Jesus’ actions show that power. And when we have questions, He replies more than words. Jesus answers with actions.