“And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous but sinners.'”
– Mark 2:16–17
There’s so much I love about this passage and so much we could talk about in it.
Mark 2:16–17 Shows how the Spiritually Needy were Drawn to Jesus
But what I want to point out in particular and lead us to pray according to is the dynamic at work here as tax collectors and sinners are drawn to Jesus, these people who, especially the religious leaders, would have scoffed at. They are scoffing at them. They’re drawn to Jesus, people who are in need of salvation, sinners, people who see that they are sick spiritually. They were drawn to Jesus.
And I just think about my life, about my family. I think about the church I’m a part of. I want to live and I want to be a part of a church where sinners feel welcome, where people who are far from God, feel loved and cared for and are drawn to, not because we are like the world. That’s obviously not the case here. In Jesus life, he was totally different from the world in such a way that people were drawn to the grace and the mercy that was found in him.
Oh, I want my life to look like that. I want my life to overflow with grace and mercy and love in such a way that people who are far from God through my life would be drawn to Jesus. I want to be a part of a church where people who are far from God are strangely drawn to the love and the grace and the mercy they find in the body of Christ.
Mark 2:16–17 Encourages Us to care for the Spiritually Needy
So, can we just pray that for our lives and for our churches, that we are a part of? God, we pray that you would help us to live and assemble as your people and operate as your people in the churches we’re a part of, in such a way that to use language from Mark 2 tax collectors and sinner, find a welcome place there in our lives, in our homes, and in our houses of worship as the body of Christ.
Lord, we pray you’d help us to love so well, care so well, show such grace, such mercy in our lives and in our churches that people are strangely drawn to you through us. God, please may that be so. We look around in our cities and our communities, so many people in need of your grace and your love and your mercy, even as we know we are in need of your grace and your love and your mercy.
So God, help us to be active in sharing the gospel and inviting people to the gathering of your people, inviting people to see and encounter your love. And God, we pray that you would bless our lives and our churches to lead many people to you, Jesus, just like was happening here in Mark 2. God, deliver us from any and every tendency towards self-righteousness and toward cocooning ourselves as religious people in such a way that those who are far from you are not drawn to you through us.
Praying for the Sudanese Arabs
And God, we pray this when it comes to the spread of the gospel of the nations. We pray today for the Sudanese Arabs, for Arabs in Sudan, for Muslims across Sudan. God, we pray for your blessing on the church in Sudan and South Sudan, that churches in Sudan would be a welcome place for Muslims to find the peace of Jesus.
And God, even as we pray that over Sudan, we pray that our churches would be welcome places for Muslims to find the peace of Jesus and atheists to find the love of Jesus and all kinds of people from all kinds of different backgrounds to find you, Jesus, just as these tax collectors found you to be loving and caring toward them in Mark 2. God may it be true through our lives and our churches. We pray according to Mark chapter two. In Jesus’ name. Amen.