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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, January 18, 2019

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 2:13–17

Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” (NRSV)

The Gospels depict Jesus as having spent a lot of time healing people. Jesus is reported to have made the blind see, the lame walk, and even the dying breathe deep again. But if you really examine the Gospels, you might see that Jesus spends even more time healing those who are sick with a different ailment: sin.

Did you know that we offer a healing service every Sunday at Fourth Church? It’s true. In fact, we offer it four times on Sundays: at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. You see, in the Reformed tradition (the wider religious tradition of which Presbyterianism belongs), every service starts with healing. The Prayer of Confession is our chance to admit that we mess up, we are afflicted with human reality and limitation, we sin. This is our chance every Sunday to admit to God that we are not perfect and that we cannot get through life alone. After we admit it—out loud—we are reminded through words of comfort and truth that we are being healed. Each Sunday, we are reminded that in Jesus Christ—the great physician—we are forgiven. We can start again.

The great irony of the gospel is that Jesus came into this world not for those who are righteous—the perfect and blameless—but for sinners. And it makes me laugh with joy and freedom, because that means Jesus came for all. We are all diagnosed with the reality of sin, but through Jesus Christ we are given a prescription that soothes our very humanity and allows us to live with even more fullness and delight. Thanks be to God.

Almighty God, who in Jesus Christ gave the power to heal both body and soul, mend and heal my heart that those sins that limit my joy may be relieved and that I may live even more in delight of you. Amen.

Written by Shawn Fiedler, Ministerial Associate for Worship

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