Religion hurts people.
I always remember the response of a seeker in our study
when we were looking at the first miracle and sign of Jesus:
turning water into wine.
I said the point of that miracle was to show how Jesus hates religion.
I saw her sit up straight and quickly write that down.
I learned later how hurt she had been when her son committed suicide and the reaction
by the religious was condemnation instead of mercy.
She decided she was done with church.
Yet decades later she came to a seeker study and encountered
the true Jesus who brought healing to her soul.
It’s only the 2nd chapter of Mark,
but the battle with the religious Pharisees has begun.
And by the time we get to Mark 3,
they are looking for a way to kill Jesus,
for they see He has come to end the idol of religion,
the idol on which their whole way of life is built.
Jesus came not to reform religion but to end it.
He has not come to patch up religion, but to give us something brand new.
Our symbol for the week, therefore, is a new wineskin,
representing the new creation only He can make of us.
Only new creations can hold the new wine of the Spirit.
Though Mark does not describe the first miracle of turning
the water used for ritualistic hand-washing into wine, he explains it.
He has come to bring not religion, but relationship,
the kind of relationship marriage foreshadows.
So His first miracle is at a wedding.
Jesus tells the legalistic Pharisees, who take pride in their display of fasting,
that it is not the time for fasting, for the Bridegroom is present.
He then goes on to say that no one puts new wine into old wineskins, for they will burst.
The scene at San Quentin prison when Johnny Cash sings to the men is so anointed by the Spirit.
They seem to know that moralism and legalism has never helped them.
They seemed to sense they desperately need something different.
They need God to make them new and pour His Spirit into their lives.
They sense what neither the religious nor the irreligious understand.
They need the Physician, the Bridegroom, the Savior.
And so do we.
Watch their hunger for truth as Johnny Cash sings.
Highlight from Last Week
Our passsage last week included Jesus touching the leper, and we also looked at the comparison Scripture makes between leprosy and sin. I was so moved by honest confessions from several of you: confessing lying, pride, and about being recalcitrant about true repentance. I don’t want to re-iterate the very personal things you shared, but I do want to say that being truly repentant is the secret to transformation. Jill shared this great insight about repentance from Rosaria Butterfield’s “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.”
“…I learned something important. I learned the first rule of repentance: that repentance requires greater intimacy with God than with our sins. How much greater? About the size of a mustard seed. Repentance requires that we draw near to Jesus, no matter what. And sometimes we all have to crawl there on our hands and knees. Repentance is an intimate affair. And for many of us, intimacy with anything is a terrifying prospect.”
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- Jesus came to set both the religious and the irreligious free from their chains. Have you been in either or both of those chains? If possible, give a specific example of how you have been set free.
Monday: He Came For Those Who Know They Are Sick
3. Read Mark 2:13-17
A. Describe what happens in verses 13-15.
B. Do you find anything remarkable about the above? If so, what and why?
C. Describe what happened in verses 16-17. What question did the Pharisees and teachers
of the law raise?
D. How does Jesus answer? What does He mean?
E. How is the above like the first Beatitude? (Matthew 5:3)
F. Do you think it is a stretch or a reasonable corrollary to see support for the value of
going to physicians in Jesus answer?
4. How has God worked in your life through your knowledge that “without Him you can do
nothing?” Can you give an example?
Tuesday: He is the Bridegroom Who Gives New Wine
5. Read Mark 2:18-20
A. How did Jesus answer the question from John’s disciples and the Pharisees concerning
B. What things is He telling them about Himself through His answer?
C. Has fasting of some sort been a meaningful discipline in your life? If so, share.
6. Read Mark 2:21-22
A. Describe the two illustrations Jesus gives of an ineffectual approach to life.
B. What point is He making through these illustrations?
Last week I shared on my author Facebook page a discerning comment from Mark Tooley on the difference between traditional and liberal congregations. I believe it really applies here, for I do think the liberal congregations are going the way of religion, not understanding we need a new birth, we need new wine. Tooley made this comment in regard to the impending split in the United Methodist Church:
There are many many many issues of disagreement within the United Methodist church…sexuality is the superficial reason for impending division.
Traditional view: Sees the church as having a chiefly transformative role on the hearts of us as sinners: winning new disciples to Christ, a new birth , a changed heart, a changed mind, and becoming sanctified to live a holy and merciful life
Liberal View: Affirming people where they are, creating an inclusive community, and working for social justice. (MARK TOOLEY FROM 1/14/20 WORLD AND EVERYTHING IN IT PODCAST)
7. Is the above helpful to you in any way?
8. What light does this passage give to the question: “Why was Jesus first miracle turning
water into wine at a wedding?” (as described in John 2) How do you need this new wine to
face today well?
Wednesday: The Sabbath was Made for Man
9. Read Mark 2:23-27
A. Of what do the Pharisees accuse Jesus in verse 24?
B. What illustration does Jesus give from the life of David and what thoughts do you have
C. What important principle does Jesus give concerning the Sabbath in verse 27?
10. Read Mark 3:1-6
A. Summarize what happened in a sentence.
B. What is the questin Jesus asks in verse 4?
C. How does this question show the true purpose of the Sabbath and also, how
the Pharisees had destroyed that purpose?
11. Read what Keller writes in the opening of Chapter 4 up to “Religion vs The Gospel.”
What stands out to you and why?
Thursday: Religion Versus the Gospel
12. Read the section in Keller “Religion Versus the Gospel” and write anything that stands out
to you and why.
13. Now read the section “The Lord of the Sabbath” and do the same.
14. How have you seen God move in your life recently?
Friday: Come Unto Me
15. Read Mark 3:6. How were the Pharisees holding on desperately to their old wineskins?
16. Why do you think we hold onto our idols? What is needed to release them and find
17. How do you see a lack of peace in the Pharisees?
18. Read to the end of the chapter 4 in Keller (I Am and The End of Religion) and share
anything that stands out to you and why.
19. Read Mark 3:7-18 and share anything that stands out to you.
Saturday: Reflections and Applications
20. What quickened you this week? How would the Lord have you apply it?
21. Is there a lie you need to overcome in order to apply it? If so, what?