In the Bible Study I co-lead with Con we've been reading Mark. It really is the most credibly incredible book a person could read, mostly because of the person Jesus is but also because of the people the Pharisees are. Jesus is a badass new wineskin and the Pharisees are like the chorus of a Greek play. Or a crowd of jack-in-the-boxes. They explode into threshed fields and tax-collector frat parties—anyplace Jesus is—always murmuring and conspiring.

Of all the broken people who meet Jesus, I can identify with the Pharisees most easily. Unlike the paralytic who just hopes to move and the leper who just hopes to be clean, the Pharisees just hope to be right. They aim to do their job well, to stay far from the rock-bottom. It's heartbreakingly understandable that they would see Jesus only as a willfully obtuse troublemaker.

Though it's not spelled out in the story, I need to believe that God's grace extends to the Pharisees. That somewhere between the lines of Mark they recognize the rock-bottomness of competence. I need to believe this for them because I need to believe it for myself, that Jesus reaches into my unbelief and transforms it to be as pure as a paralytic who's about to walk.