Jesus changes people. Levi became Matthew (Mark 2:14). He became ‘a new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The change of name marked his new birth (John 3:6). To be changed by Jesus you must recognize yourself as a sinner (Mark 2:17). There is a world of difference between legal obedience - ‘old wine’ - and Gospel obedience - ‘new wine’ (Mark 2:21-22). There is an eternity of difference between belonging to God’s Kingdom and remaining outside of His Kingdom (John 3:3,5,7). The religion of the Pharisees was legalistic. The obedience of Jesus was spiritual. Will we follow Jesus, or will we be like these ‘religious’ men who planned ‘to destroy Him’ (Mark 2:6)? It is sadly possible to participate in ‘religion’, professing faith in ‘the Son of God’, in an ‘unclean spirit’ (11). Prompted by the Holy Spirit, let us truly confess that ‘Jesus is Lord’ (1 Corinthians 12:3).
The conflict intensifies. The ‘twelve’ are ‘sent... to cast out demons’ (Mark 3:14-15). Jesus is accused of being demon-possessed (Mark 3:22). Jesus warns against ‘an eternal sin’ - blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:28-30). With the offer of forgiveness - ‘the blood of Jesus... cleanses us from all sin’ - , there is the call to ‘confess our sins’ (1 John 1:7,9). ‘If we say we have no sin’ (1 John 1:8,10) and no need of Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we resist the Holy Spirit who seeks to convict us of our sin and lead us to the Saviour (John 16:8-9,14). Are you anxious about ‘an unpardonable sin’ ? Let the Holy Spirit lead you to the Saviour. Take your sin to Jesus, and let His ‘perfect love cast out your fear’ (1 John 4:18). Do you think you cannot be forgiven ? God’s thoughts are ‘higher’: ‘Return to the Lord... He will abundantly pardon’ (Isaiah 55:6-9).
God’s Word carries this message: ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says...’ (Mark 4:9; Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). We must listen for the voice of the Spirit. Grace has been ‘given’ to us (Mark 4:11). It is God's gift. To God be the glory! Sadly, some refuse to listen. Think about your response to God's Word (Mark 4:15-20). Let your light shine (Mark 4:21-23; Matthew 5:16). Use your gifts, or lose them (24-25). We preach the Word. God gives the growth (Mark 4:26-29; 1 Corinthians 3:6-7). A small child can count the seeds in an apple. Only God knows how many apples there are in a single seed! God’s Word is a ‘seed’ which bears much fruit (Mark 4:30-32; 1 Peter 1:23-25). Parables whet the appetite - for more! They were given to people ‘as they were able to hear it’ - ‘a starter’ (Mark 4:33-34)! May we be ‘visual aids’ to whet people’s appetite - for God!