2019-09-15 – Mark 2.13-17 – Jesus, A Friend of Sinners
Bible Text: Mark 2:13-17 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Mark | 2019-09-15 – Mark 2.13-17 – Jesus, A Friend of Sinners
(Training Night, Fishing Trip, Mission Illinois Offering, NISBY, Creation Science)
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
Last week we saw how Jesus had compassion for the people that sought Him out to be healed. He also rightfully demonstrated though that He was even more concerned with our eternal health. For the first time He publicly forgave the peoples’ sin, and in doing so that got the “religious people’s” attention. They said in their hearts “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And they were correct in assortation, in that Jesus was and still is God in the flesh.
Today, as we continue in the Gospel book of Mark, this message is entitled “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”, and we are going to explain what exactly that means for us today.
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 2.13, pew Bibles pg 888 in God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word, but let us first start with Prayer.
In our last message, we saw how people were coming from far and near to see the great Physician and Healer doing many amazing miracles. So many people were coming that Jesus had to get away from the town for a few days to just maintain order. Again, they were in the city of Capernaum, just north of the Sea of Galilee or on modern maps called Lake Galilee or Lake Tiberias, and in Hebrew Yam Kinneret. A most beautiful place indeed.
Verse 13 reads: 13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them.
How would you like the opportunity to be beside that beautiful lake being taught by the Son of God, Jesus Christ himself? Wouldn’t that be simply amazing? Jesus must have already obtained at least their interest for them to come seek Him out. At this point He had rendered many miraculous healings and displayed His authority in His words and wisdom. Like was said last week, Jesus used those healings to get their attention so that He might be able to now speak into their lives. Jesus capitalized on the situation to teach them the Gospel. Jesus was a Jewish man and the Jews believed through the profits that a Savior/Messiah was coming soon. Although Jesus didn’t look like the strong warrior knight they were hoping for, His presence was truly remarkable to say the least. The exact word’s Jesus taught in this instance are not recorded however we know they already considered Him a wise teacher and they wanted to learn more about Him.
14 As he walked along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
Up until this point, Jesus had already called six of the twelve apostles. The word apostle means “one who is sent out.” The twelve apostles of Jesus Christ were the first messengers of the gospel after Jesus’s death and resurrection. It was these twelve apostles who were the foundation of the church with Jesus being the cornerstone. Speaking of the number twelve, there were twelve initial apostles, and I think it is no coincidence also that Jacob’s twelve sons are the twelve tribes of Israel. Furthermore, in referring to the New Jerusalem when heaven and earth are recreated, Revelation 21:14 states, “The wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”
Now this man Levi, the newest of Apostles who subsequently changed his name to Matthew, was a most despised tax collector. Generally speaking nobody then or even now appreciates tax collectors, and for a good reason, they take your money. I don’t know about you, but although I appreciate what our government does for us, especially regarding national defense, I also don’t want them to become so big, using my hard earned money, that they take over everything. Ever hear the term “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. That was penned by a 19th century British politician named Lord Acton (ain’t that a cool name). Again “absolute power corrupts absolutely” both in Jesus’s day and in ours today.
Well in Jesus’s day, you should know they had two forms of government looming over them, and both of them were somewhat corrupt. One was the Jewish religious government and the other was the Roman government. And both of them demanded taxes to be rendered. They had many different types of tax offices, and this tax booth job that Levi had was the lowest of the low. He was the strong arm tax collector on the street. Everyone reviled them and they were considered ever lower in stature than the thieves and prostitutes. Tax collectors like Levi purchased their tax franchises from the Roman government. Any amount they collected over what Rome required they were allowed to keep. Thus Levi became wealthy at the expense of the other Jewish citizenry.
Now on one hand, Jesus was getting the attention of the religious scribes and Pharisees for His wisdom. And just when He was starting to gather crowds, He then stooped so low to invite the sinner tax collector, Levi into His inner circle.
On a side note, do you ever consider all the taxes we pay in our world today? When politicians debate tax rates they usually focus on income taxes. However income taxes represent much less than half of our true American tax burden. Other less prominent or somewhat hidden taxes are the state tax, sales tax, luxury tax, gas tax, hotel and airport taxes, tobacco and alcohol tax, insurance tax, license tax, phone and firearm tax, and import taxes that are buried into the cost of the goods we buy.. and many others. We really pay an estimated effective 54% tax to the government on the money we earn just to live in the good ole U.S.A. And we got it cheap compared to many other countries. I don’t like taxes, I don’t like giving the government more than I should. And the people of Israel even had it worse. The people despised Levi in our story today. He was the strong arm of the law regarding collecting taxes. Tax collectors were known to be evil, greedy, and corrupt people who charged far more than what was owed. Almost like a mafia boss taking advantage of the people. (if your an IRS agent, kidding 🙂
Amazingly, notice if you will, what Levi did when Jesus called him that day. Jesus simply said “Follow me,” and Levi got up and followed him. That is the same thing Jesus told to the other apostles a in our last chapter. Jesus went up to Peter and his brothers and simply said “follow me” and they did. The difference here is that although it was still rather miraculous, being a fisherman, they could always return to being fishermen if they chose to do so. But for Levi here, who had his own established tax booth, when he left that booth, he couldn’t just return to it later. Some other crooked opportunist would quickly have taken his place. I would imagine that Levi must have been prepared mentally by the Holy Spirit to make such a move. I can’t think he was happy at his job, taking money from the poor. So when Jesus came along, it was his ticket to a new life. “Follow Me” was all that he needed to hear.
We have another great example in scripture about tax collectors (Luke 19:2-8).
“A man named Zacchaeus was there. He was the director of tax collectors, and he was rich. He tried to see who Jesus was. But Zacchaeus was a small man, and he couldn’t see Jesus because of the crowd. So Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a fig tree to see Jesus, who was coming that way. When Jesus came to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down! I must stay at your house today.” Zacchaeus came down and was glad to welcome Jesus into his home. But the people who saw this began to express disapproval. They said, “He went to be the guest of a sinner.” Later, at dinner, Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Lord, I’ll give half of my property to the poor. I’ll pay four times as much as I owe to those I have cheated in any way.” This just shows well the dynamics of a Tax collector’s lifestyle. That is why all the people generally loathed them.
What we are going to see next is Jesus not only choosing Levi the tax collector to be an apostle, but now befriending Levi’s tax collector and sinner friends, and even socializing with them despite the stigma they maintained. Verse 15 says:
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. …
16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
These self-righteous Pharisees, who wore their majestic robes and only associated with the upper-class of people, saw Jesus with the sinners, they gasped with revolt I’m sure. Back in the Old Testament book of Psalms written mostly by King David, the first Psalm in the book starts out with this statement: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night”. That is what these Pharisees want to be seen as being like. Jesus was now rocking their world.
Today I am sure there are a lot of Christians sadly that are much like these Pharisees. Sadly they think they have got to always look the part of a righteous person on the outside to have clout in the God’s church. The problem with that stinking-thinking is that the icing many times masks what is really inside. Don’t get me wrong, we should be wanting to present ourselves clean inside and out. However when we classify ourselves and our friends by the type of clothes we wear, by the house we live in, and the car we drive, then we are missing out at much good and healthy true Christian fellowship. Let Jesus be your example in this regard. We are no better than anyone else. And we need to be reaching out to all people so we might have the opportunity to present the Gospel like Jesus did here.
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
According to pastor John McArthur, a noted theologian, In the parallel passages of Luke 5:32, sinners are “called to repentance.” The repentant person, the one who recognizes he is a sinner and who turns from his sin, is the object of Jesus’s call. The person who is sinful but thinks he is righteous refuses to acknowledge his need to repent of sin.
We are all are sinners in need of a Savior. Repenting means acknowledging and then turning away from our sinful practices. Jesus here was calling the Pharisees out. I love how masterfully He speaks to these self proclaimed “righteous” ones. He does it over and over in scripture in a way that they don’t know to get mad or puffed up in their righteousness. Again, We are all are sinners in need of a Savior.
Jesus was giving them, and now us, a very important life lesson here. Before we can fix what is broken, we need to realize our broken state. How’s the old saying go, half of the challenge to effecting a change is identifying what the problem is. Jesus was pointing out that these Pharisees don’t want to even acknowledge that they have a need for a Savior. Have you ever tried to help somebody that doesn’t recognize that the even need the help. Unfortunately there is little that anyone can do, other than to pray for them to open their minds and their hearts to consider. We need to be praying for them indeed.
That completes the dissection of these verses we have in Mark today. But if you will, let me give you an overview of some of the amazing outcomes of Jesus choosing Levi, the reviled tax collector. Levi, otherwise known as the author of the Gospel book of Matthew. Besides the amazing geneology Matthew makes known at the start of his Gospel. Here are some other passages that we are now blessed with, that are unique only to Gospel of Matthew:
Entire infancy narrative of Jesus
The account of Peter walking on water
Judas’ remorse, suicide, purchase of Field of Blood
Pilate washes his hands of Jesus’s murder and the Dream of Pilate’s wife
Opening of the tombs of patriarchs at Jesus’s crucifixion
They dynamics surrounding the guarding of Jesus’ tomb
Bribery of guards to ensure their silence
Jesus’s appearance to eleven
And the Parables:
Kingdom of Heaven likened to field sown with weeds
Net that gathered fish of all kinds
Treasure hidden in field, pearl of great price
The unforgiving servant
The Laborers in the vineyard
The parable of the two sons
The wise and the foolish virgins
Matthew also uniquely gives us Jesus’s teachings:
Beatitudes on meek, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers
On continued force of Law of Moses
Against anger toward brother and a giving oaths
Against hypocrisy in almsgiving and prayer and fasting
Jesus’s instruction to go to the Gentiles or the “lost sheep of Israel”
Jesus’s warning about the persecution to come
And the most famous quote from Jesus “Come to me all who labor . . . for my yoke is easy, my burden light”
Jesus proved that there are a lot of broken people in this world that needs Him as a savior. Jesus used the despicable tax-collector Levi (Matthew) in a big way. And Jesus can you use you and I in a big way as well. But it all starts with a decision.
Will you consider giving your heart to Jesus this morning? Unlike the Pharisees in our His-tory lesson today, will you acknowledge your sin, acknowledge that you need the physician, that you need a Messiah-Savior. And then ask Him to forgive your sins, and accept Him as your Lord and Savior for ever more?