Mark Pt 11: Friends In Low Places
Have you ever been at an event where the people don’t fit well together, and it can be a bit awkward?
Illustration - My Wedding - Clare’s Side and My Side
In our portion of scripture this morning we come to an event like this, where there is a divide in the room, for we are about to meet Levi or as most people know him by his greek name Matthew, a man who was a social outcast who kept company with those society despised.
Let’s pickup in verses 1 and 2 as we bear witness to..
1.The Call from Christ
1.The Call from Christ
13 And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
We are introduced to Levi, the son of Alphaeus, better know to us as Matthew
A few things to notice about this Man.
He was of the tribe of Levi, the Levites were the tribe set apart for the priestly duties to the nation - all priests were levites but not all levites were priests. It was accustomed for all levite males at that time to either become priest or lawyers -
But this levite Matthew, is neither a priest or lawyer, he is in fact a tax collector, much to the disappointment of his parents i sure, who would have high hopes for their son.
You say tax collector isn't that bad!
well The publicans collected taxes for the Roman government, and the Jews regarded them as traitors and extortioners. They grew rich by padding the tax assessments that they were to collect. they were held in utter contempt by their own people, so you can imagine how his parents felt.
Matthew likely was a customs official with a tax office by the lake; he was responsible for collecting customs duties on the lucrative fishing trade. So he would have been well known to the disciples involved in the fishing trade business
Matthew had no doubt seen some of the Lord’s miracles. He had heard Him preach, and his heart had been touched. He was ready when the Lord called.
Follow - Levi had to give everything up, he couldn't go back to his old job, the Romans would have been done with him, his seat at the tax both would have been taken, not like Peter and Andrew who could go back to fishing at any time, they had a family business waiting, and indeed they did just that after the Lord was crucified.
Matthew has to give it all up and never look back because there is nothing left to look back to...
He truly counted the cost of following Jesus and determined he was worth it!!!
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
the call is the same today, not be a fan of Jesus, but to be a follower.
Notice the immediate obedience, he arose and followed.
So the call from christ is to follow, and that exactly what Matthew did. And Matthew is so excited about his new relationship with Jesus that he wants to share this with all his friends, he wants others to meet the Master, which leads us to...
2.The Celebration for Christ
2.The Celebration for Christ
15 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
The scene now changes to Matthews house, and Mark is describing quite the gathering, quite the occasion, and we want to think about the crowd
A. The Crowd
Matthew arranged to bring all of his old friends to meet all of his new friends. He especially wanted all of his old friends to meet Jesus. Matthew was probably rich and possibly had a large house. He might also have had many friends among the lower classes. The religious world classified the kind of people with whom Matthew associated simply as “publicans and sinners” and would have nothing to do with them. Jesus, however, received them gladly.
So think about this group, on the one hand the lowest of society on the other those that thought of themselves above others, two sides that despised each other.
If it were not for Jesus they would have not been in the same room, I mean what would they talk about, what would they have in common?
Jesus made the difference both sides were interested in Him. He was the common centre around which they all gathered.
Application: and isn't that the truth when we come to Jesus , when we truly follow him, when we become one of his, there is no room for classes, there is no room for privilege above others, there is no room for favourites, we are loved in the beloved!!!
Also in Christ we have commonalty, we can go anywhere and find fellowship - Romania
But there is a element that wants to attack Christ, those against him and soon comes the charge
B. The Charge
When He forgave the paralytic man’s sins, the scribes had objected, albeit silently.
Now the Pharisees joined them, and they voiced their criticism audibly.
The scribes were the custodians of the text of Scripture; the Pharisees were the custodians of the traditions of Scripture. They were meticulous in keeping the countless manmade rules and regulations that had evolved around the basic 613 commandments of the Mosaic Law.
Their idea of a holy man could be summarised in the word separation. A good man would not want to be contaminated by associating himself with traitors. He would not want to be compromised socially or have his reputation ruined by such association.
“Publicans! Sinners!” We can hear the horror and contempt in their voices. We can see the disgust on their faces. Why, such people were moral lepers. They were outcasts, untouchables. Not one of the members of the religious establishment would even so much as dream of having his name linked with such people.
Yet, here was this young prophet from Nazareth attending a party convened by the scum of the neighborhood.
They could not gainsay His miracles, but now they began to question His morals.
They challenged His disciples to explain this very peculiar behaviour of their prophet. Surely a prophet’s task was to denounce and damn such people, not to dine with them.
The Lord, however, did not need His disciples to make excuses for Him, which leads us to our final thought as we see
3.The Clarity from Christ
3.The Clarity from Christ
17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
A lot of noise must have been going on all around but the Lord’s ears missed nothing, even as His eyes saw everything. He saw the disciples, who were evidently keeping pretty well to themselves, as the scribes and Pharisees approached with their scarcely veiled criticism. He heard what they said, as He hears all that is said.
Before the embarrassed disciples could blurt out some inadequate reply, He took the floor. He drew a simple but obvious parallel. “It’s not healthy people who need a doctor but sick people,” He said. “It’s not good people who need a Savior but bad people.”
The Lord’s critics, of course, thought themselves to be good people, and they classified publicans and harlots as bad people.
They brought into focus one great fact of the gospel—no one is too bad for the Lord Jesus to save, but many people think themselves to be too good to need salvation.
25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
You see thats what we are really dealing with folks, two types of people, those who realise they need saved, and those that think they don’t
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
The fact is all need saved,
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one to his own way; And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Needed saved is a fact, wanting to be saved is another matter, and that lies on the individual, God does not force himself upon people
So Jesus was indeed a friend of sinners, no he didn't affirm there sin, for his command was always go and sin no more, but Jesus give us the perfect example of how we are to be in this world as Christians, we are to understand that grace and mercy is available for all, we are to try to reach those society rejects, love them with the love of Christ, see them as lost and dying, and share the Good news
We are to resist and reject any form of class system within the body of Christ, that means whoever comes in this door, we welcome them and minister to them just as we would any one of our own.
It so important we keep our testimony in that area..
In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that during his student days he read the Gospels seriously and considered converting to Christianity. He believed that in the teachings of Jesus he could find the solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India.
So one Sunday he decided to attend services at a nearby church and talk to the minister about becoming a Christian. When he entered the sanctuary, however, the usher refused to give him a seat and suggested that he go worship with his own people. Gandhi left the church and never returned. "If Christians have caste differences also," he said, "I might as well remain a Hindu." That usher's prejudice not only betrayed Jesus but also turned a person away from trusting Him as Saviour.
Folks, all ground is level at the foot of the cross, and we have understand that we have have no room, for discrimination of any kind within the body of Christ, we cannot be grace and mercy for us but not for others.
So when we come across those that society rejects, those that are deemed outcasts, unseemly, unwanted, we are to remember how the Lord see’s them, as lost needed a saviour.
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Jesus had friends in low places, but his reaching out brought them into the family of God, where there can be no room for discrimination or racism or favourites.