Faithlife Sermons

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:42
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Mark 2:13–17 ESV
He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Rome collected taxes by a system called “Tax Farming.” They assessed a district a fixed tax figure, then sold the right to collect taxes to the highest bidder. The buyer had to hand over the assessed figure at the end of the year and could keep whatever he gathered above that.
The system consisted of two categories of taxes. First were stated taxes:
Poll Tax - men 14-65 and women 12-65 had to pay simply for being alive.
Ground Tax - One Tenth of all grain and one fifth of all wine and oil produced. Some places even had a tax on fish.
Income Tax - One percent of ones annual income
The second area of taxes and duties had ample room for extortion.
Taxes for using roads and docking in harbors
Sales taxes on certain items
import and export duties
Cart taxes - each wheel of a cart was taxed.
Tax collectors could stop people on the side of the road, make them open their bags, and charge just about anything they wanted. If the people couldn’t afford it, the tax collector would sometimes offer to loan them the money at ridiculous interest rates.
So rare was an honest tax collector that one Roman writer said he once saw a monument to an honest tax collector!
Hebrew Tax collectors were easily the most hated members of society. They were not only hated for their extortion, but were looked on as traitors for serving the Roman oppressors. These Jews could not serve as witnesses or a judge in court, and were excommunicated from the synagogues.
This made Jesus relationship with Levi all the more scandalous.

Christ is the Friend of Sinners

Mark 2:13–15 ESV
He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.
Jesus called the worste of sinners.
Jesus exalts the rejected.
Centures ago a number of workmen were seen dragging a great marble block into the city of Florence, Italy. It had come from the famous marble quarries of Carrara and was intended to be made into a stature of a great Old Testament prophet. But it contained imperfections, and when the great sculptor Donatello saw it, he refused it at once. So there it lay in the cathedral yard, a useless block. One day another sculptor caught sight of the flawed block. Butr as he examined it, there rose in his mind something of immense beauty, and he resolved t osculpt it. For two years the artist worked feverishly on teh work of art. Finally, on January 25, 1504, the greatest artists of the day assembled to see what he had made of the despised and rejected block. Among them were Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Pietro Perugino, the teacher of Raphael. As the veil dropped to the floor, the stature was met with a chorus of praise. It was a masterpiece! The succeeding centures have confirmed that judgment . Michelangelo’s David is one of the greatest works of art the world has ever known.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
No one looking at Levi would have believed that he would become Matthew, disciple of Jesus and writer of one of the four gospels. But Jesus knew. In fact, He had created Levi for this purpose. Before the foundation of the world Jesus had prepared the works that Matthew would walk in.
The natural response to Christ’s work in our lives is to honor him.
Levi throws a reception for Jesus to honor Him.
Levi also wanted to share Jesus with his friends.

Christ is the Enemy of the Self-Righteous

Mark 2:16 ESV
And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
We must beware our self-righteous tendencies
There are Christians today who operate on similar unspoken suppositions.
In 19th century England, there was a poor woman who attended a church women’s meeting. She had been living with a man of another race by which she had had a baby, and she brought the child with her. She liked the meeting and came back again and again. But then the vicar came to her and said, “I must ask you not to come to this meeting again.” seeing her questioning look, he continued, “The other women say that they will stop coming if you continue to come.” Looking at him she asked, “Sir, I know that I’m a sinner, but isn’t there anywhere a sinner can go?” Fortunately she found Christ at a local Salvation Army.
This mentality was pervasive among the pharisees of Jesus’ day, but it’s just as pervasive in the hearts of so called Christians today.
Maybe none of us would claim to believe like the Pharisees. Actually, when we read about this attitude we dispise it. But we came to Christ, and in our desire to be godly we sought out people “like us.” Ultimately we arrange our lives so that we are with nonbelievers as little as possible. We attend Christian prayer meetings that are 100 percent Christian. We play sports with Christians and eat dinner with Christians. We have Christian doctors, dentists, and even Christian plumbers. The result is, we pass by hundreds without ever noticing them or positively influencing them for Christ. So while none of us here are pharisees philosophically, we may be practically by the way we live our lives.
We must socialize with the lost to evangelize the lost.
Reaching the lost for Christ might not look like a mission trip or an outreach program. Maybe, just maybe the best way to reach the lost for Christ is to actually live with them. Interact with them. Build relationships with them. And share Jesus with them.

Christ is the Savior of the Needy

Mark 2:17 ESV
And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Everyone needs Jesus, but not everyone is needy
By that I mean that while the Pharisees desperately needed Jesus for salvation, they didn’t realize they needed him, so they expressed no desire to need him. They were oblivious to the need of their souls.
Christ didn’t come to the ones that say “I have no need of you.” He came to the sick, the hurting, the needy.
Matthew 5:3–6 ESV
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
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