From my little bit of background research, Mark is thought to be a close follower of Peter, one of Jesus' 12 disciples. His gospel echoes much of what we just read in the book of Matthew. It doesn't seem to be as detailed, though. In Mark 1-3, John the Baptist preaches and baptizes in the wilderness. John baptizes Jesus in the Jordan River, and then Jesus begins sharing the Good News everywhere He goes. He calls His disciples to follow Him, urges people to repent, forgives sin, and heals many.
I really love the story of the four men whose faith called them to lower their paralyzed friend through the roof where Jesus was staying. That's some gutsy and amazing faith.
As I read, I got stuck on some details in Mark 2. Jesus calls sinners to Him and hangs out with them. The smart religious minds of the time question Jesus and His ways. Jesus changes the way things have always been done. He brings a whole new way of thinking and acting with Him. The inquiring minds want to know why John the Baptist's disciples are fasting and Jesus' disciples are not (Mark 2:18-19). The discussion leads Jesus to an illustration of unshrunk cloth on old garments.
21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.
When I read this analogy for the first time in Matthew it confused me. I didn't see the connection to what Jesus is preaching, and I just kept reading. Then, it came up again in Mark. This time, I work through it some more. The way I am picturing it, I think the unshrunk, new cloth is both Jesus and His disciples. They represent the forgiveness and complete renewal Jesus brings to us. The old garment represents life without Jesus, sinners, Old Testament law, and the disciples of John the Baptist. If Jesus were to simply patch new cloth on old sinful ways, it would just make the situation worse. The garment, the person, would be torn apart. There would too much friction between the new and the old, the pure and the sinful and we would not be as close to Jesus as He wants us to be.
So what does Jesus do for us? He forgives our sin, all of them, not just some of them. He offers total healing, new life in Him if we give ourselves completely to Him. We have to repent and let go of our old selves.
And as we let go and open ourselves up to Jesus, He goes to work in us mending what is broken, and worn out, filling the voids and holes in our hearts...and this heart work that Jesus does is everlasting, fulfilling, and abundant...it's so much more than we could ever accomplish in ourselves by our own efforts.
Tell me what you think. What is your take on these verses? I am pretty sure I am on to something, but I haven't figured it all out.
A prayer for today-
Dear Lord and Savior,
Thank you for the new life I have in Christ. Thank you for taking my old, worn out, sinful ways and blessing me with forgiveness. Thank you that, in You, God, I am healed. I am refreshed, and I am strengthened. I am closer to You. Help me to come to You with the patches of my life that are full of tension, the tension that comes from pulling away from You. I also pray for others that need to be made new in You.
In the name of Jesus I pray,
*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project. Click here to read more.