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A world upside down

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Intro

It is impossible to tell who first quoted this phrase…But many pastors and academics have said this. The quote in some form goes back to St. John Chysostom
But has been said a thousand times before and in a billion other sermons
“The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”
It’s an old quote…it has a lot of mileage on it…But it is true in every way.
Our existence is not so that we can gawk at each other’s holiness
But we exist so that people who are broken from sin can be made new
Every single one of us has been broken before...
Every single one of us is in need of the grace and mercy of God...
And the reason why I bring this up is because as we traverse through Mark we are going to get a sense of the heart of Jesus and just how radical he was.
A world on Honor Shame Culture
See Jesus lived in this culture that we would call an honor and shame culture. It is very different than out culture that we live in right now.
Our culture is very much an individualistic, selfish, “look at me” culture.
We do things in order to stand out…That is a value of our culture...
Whereas in Jesus culture if you did something to assert your own individualism you would bring shame to your whole family.
But in first century israel, your whole life depended on the honor your brought to your family
You brought your family honor if you were in good relationship with your local synagogue.
Your ability to thrive in your town depended on your purity
Were you following torah?
Did you obey the Sabbath?
Did you do all the offerings you were supposed to do?
Did you honor your leaders?
The Jewish culture was this very well defined almost container like of customs and rituals…Codes of honor and shame
The one thing that you did not do if you were a first century Jew was Sin...
Now, the Jewish people are huge on forgiveness, as long as the person who sinned came and confessed their sin and made it right then the Jews were usually great about forgiveness
But if your actively living in sin…You get cut off.
This comes from the Torah, when Israel was camping in the wilderness for 40 years there were these codes about expelling those who were sinners, expelling from the camp those who were impure because they were impure and impurities were contagious
SO you would put these people out of the camp because anyone who sinned would rub their impurity off on you.
So as a result
if you were living in the times of Jesus and it was known that you were in sin…You brought shame to your familyAnd if you are living in sin, especially publically then no one would ever associate with you.
This is impotrant because of what we are going to get into with the Gospel of Mark today.
We have already seen Jesus start to upset the powers that be. It isn’t extremely noticeable in Mark’s gospel just yet
But Jesus is making waves…He forgave sin (Something reserved for only God to do) This upset the leaders…They still haven’t spoken up much yet...
So lets get into Mark 2 today
Mark 2:13–17 NIV
Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 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. 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. 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?” 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.”
There is so much that is just beautiful in this passage
here is what I love about it. Mark records that Jesus was teaching but then he proceeds to not write down anything that Jesus taught.
He doesn’t say a word about it, probably because what happened next was the actual teaching moment.
Jesus walks up to a tax booth and says Follow me to the tax collector…That would have been far more impactful than any sermon
I want you to understand the significance of this moment because we can not just skip over this
I mean some of you might have an adversarial relationship with the IRS…But this doesn’t even compare...
Someone who collects taxes collects them for the government right? The government at this time is the evil Roman empire…so if you were a tax collector you were working for the enemy...
The Romans were impure pagans
It is much worse than you think…You would have had to live with your people and every single one of them would have looked at you like a Benedict Arnold, not only betraying your country bot your own people..
In fact, Everyone records this story calls Levi the Son of Alpheus…And I think the authors wrote the name of Levi’s father as sort of a reminder that this guy Levi brought shame to his whole family!
I mean Good pure Jews didn’t even cary Roman currency because it had an image of Cezar’s face on it…This was a violation of the second commandment.
There are some historians who claim that the tax rate during Herod’s Reign could have been anywhere from 60-80% on the high end and 40-60% on the low end…The point is that the taxes were punishing....
People were often in debt to the roman government…They lost their homes or were thrown into debtors prison, made to become slaves of Rome
So the romans had a practice of hiring a Jewish person to be the tax collector for their own people.
It lessened the revolts if they did it this way
Plus they had an insider in the community collecting taxes…
Every ancient empire acts like this…You go in and overthrow a country and then install your guys as the leaders but they understand the local culture...
Countries still do this today.
We get this, it is what we did when we went into Afghanistan
When Afghanistan was being overrun by the Taliban the people who were trying to get out the most were those who worked with the American Military as translators and guides....They became enemy number 1 with the Taliban
This is a common practice that has happened for thousands of years.
So you have to understand that the people who collected taxes on behalf of the romans were traders.
Often times tax collectors would have personal guards just so they could make it home at night.
Now there was some upside to this job…You could get really wealthy being a tax collector...
But there was a huge cost to that wealth
I want you to understand how bad it was for a jew to be a tax collector:
The Gospel according to Mark The Scandal of Grace (2:13–17)

A Jew who collected taxes was disqualified as a judge or witness in court, expelled from the synagogue, and a cause of disgrace to his family (b. Sanh. 25b). The touch of a tax collector rendered a house unclean (m. Teh. 7:6; m. Hag. 3:6). Jews were forbidden to receive money and even alms from tax collectors since revenue from taxes was deemed robbery

So what we have to remember is that at this point Jesus has done some offensive things and he just doesn't mind adding to the list.
Right before this he tells a man that his sin is forgiven…This makes the religious elite upset
But right before that he touched a Leper...
And it may have even been that a tax collector was considered worse than a leper in this time because a tax collector chose his profession whereas a leper did not choose it
Many people believed that the messiah would actually lead a physical revolt against the Romans.
If he is really the messiah…How can he be eating with the enemy?
Instead Levi gets an invitation
“Follow Me”
The sandal of this story is that Jesus didn't make Levi get on his knees and repent
Jesus didn’t make moral repentance a precondition for his love and acceptance
And neither should we.
The beginning of evangelism is loving people where they are at, even if they hate Jesus or don’t believe in God…Love them, show them dignity, care for them…There is no better strategy than Jesus’ own way of living...
Now Jesus does say repent and believe…I am just talking about God’s love and acceptance…But for forgiveness, yes we need to repent of our sins
He just goes to Levi bringing grace
This is what Grace is
Grace is unmerited favor.
See many times we show grace but our grace is conditional
We only want to show grace to people so far as we know that they are worthy of receiving it.
We don’t like wasting our grace on people
And Jesus took that chance…and he always does through his ministry…
Jesus dint Just call Levi to repentance on accident, he did this on purpose. He knew full well what he was doing
Before he showed the world grace on the cross he would do it in these little moments and encounters
He wanted a living breathing example of grace walking with him for three years before he would veer take the cross
Jesus loves tax collectors and sinners as they are.....
He invites them to come to him as they are…It is in the moving toward Jesus that these people are transformed
We knew that Levi ended up leaving his job as a tax collector…and we don’t know the impact this had on his other tax collecting friends
But this is what Grace does...
It is transformative
The invitation of Jesus caused Levi to recklessly abandon his old life
So the question that is asked about Jesus is why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?
Eating with someone was huge in the ancient world…
See Levi was a shamed man..A Sinner, excluded from religious life, excluded from everyone...
And here Jesus is, this prominent teacher that is getting a ton of attention, so much so that a story we read last week said that Jesus couldn’t even go into a town openly because everyone would come to him...
Jesus’ presence brings honor to Levi ....
I think its clear that Jesus didn’t approve of Levi’s lifestyle
and it is where we get the phrase from Jesus
Mark 2:17

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners

I mean he calls Levi, sick
Church leaders would later tailor that phrase into the quote we talked about in the beginning.
The church is a hospital for sinners not a museum for saints
Jesus as the son of God had his choice of who he wanted to spend time with and continually through the gospels he spends time with his disciples and people who society would have deemed as unworthy
It leads me to a question: What does Holiness mean to Jesus?
I mean there is a phrase that you may have heard in church growing up that a Holy God cant be around sin...
And I think that is half true
Otherwise, why is Jesus, who is Holy, always spending time with the people who are outcasts
Why is a holy God hanging on a cross and having our sin heaped on to him?
Why is a Holy God hanging between two criminals
It seems like what a Holy God does is that he comes into our sinful world and transforms us.
Jesus actually re-defined what it meant to be a Holy God...
here we have the son of God seeking out sinners and eating with them
But here we have the incarnation of Holiness in the person of Jesus having a meal with these sinners
And their sin doesn't rub off of Jesus, Jesus’ Holiness challenges them to live a different kind of life.
Holiness seeks after life change, it doesn't withdraw from dark places rather it charges into dark places with the light of God and redeems it for the Lord.
Jesus redefines holiness when he has a meal at Levi’s house
God’s holiness seeks after the lost
Jesus utterly redefines holiness and the mission of God’s people when he says it isn’t the healthy that need a doctor but the sick.
Now there will be this conversation that will happen just right after the dinner with Matthew
Let’s keep Going
Mark 2:18–22 NIV
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. “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. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”
This may seem like a cryptic conversation when we first read it but it surrounds fasting.
Fasting was a typical religious practice for the Jews, there are three pillars in Judaism they are prayer, almsgiving & fasting.
There were corporate fasts where everyone in israel fasted like on the day of atonement
and then there were the religious groups. Pharisees fasted every Monday and Thursday
So the question was hey they all fast…why don’t your disciples?
I think it was more of a suggestion like, hey Jesus, if you want to be taken seriously then you and your disciples better get with the program and get a fasting protocol going
So Jesus replies with an Old Testament riddle
How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?
And this is massive because in the Old Testament, the bridegroom to Israel is God himself
So this is one of those times in Jesus ministry where he was like wide open with who he was…but also cryptic enough to where it was open to interpretation
And then Jesus tells these two crisp parables that I want to spend the rest of our time on right now.
Jesus says you cant sew new cloth onto an old garment and you can not put new wine into old wineskins
Just quick parables
But here Jesus is brilliant because what is happening so far in all of his ministry?
Casting Demons out of the synagogue…Thats new
He’s healing people of their sickness
he is touching unclean people and whats even worse than that
He just asked Levi the town trader to be his disciple! then he ate at his house!!!
Jesus’ entire ministry up until this point is defined by pouring into the world something new…
Jesus is the new wine
He is the new patch of cloth
The old world wont be able to contain him…so a new one has to emerge
Know what all of this tells me...
It is impossible to fit Jesus into your old life
Levi the tax collector had to totally abandon his old life to follow Jesus…he couldn’t just fit him in
You can’t approach faith in Jesus as something that you are fitting into your life
It doesn't work that way
You will always be dissatisfied with God, you will stay 2-3 years at a church then you will go on to find the next one because you wont feel “fed”
when you are just merely trying to fit Jesus into your life then you are concerned with keeping all of the old parts of your life too.
Our relationship with God depends on our old life being discarded and a new life emerging
We cant merely fit Jesus in like new wine into an old container
We have to be made new ourselves
We have to be like Levi and in response to the grace of Jesus have him over to our table to eat with
We have to be like Levi and recklessly abandon our old lives
Only a new creation can contain the new wine
The old self must die

As the band comes

Response:
I think there are three responses to today
1. Maybe you are here today and you are thinking that there is no way that God could love you. But the reality is that He is here for the sick and the hurting…If that is you today, the son of God stepped out of heaven just for you…Maybe its time to recklessly abandon your old life…To let it go...
2. Maybe you are here today and you need to redefine holiness a bit in your own life and there are people whom you have been avoiding but you need to show the revolutionary
3. Maybe your here today and your just sick of the Old....Jesus wants to pour his new life into you
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