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Mercy, Jesus & the Tax Collector

Jesus & the Outsider  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Have you ever done something that you feel like your parents or grandparents couldn’t every forgive you for?
Gone somewhere you shouldn’t have gone
Done something you shouldn’t have done
Spend time with someone who is a bad influence
Lied about something
Taken something that wasn’t yours
I think all of us have something deep down that makes us feel unforgiveable.
In the Oxford English Dictionary, mercy is descried as “compassion or forgiveness shown towards an enemy or person in one’s power.”
To be able to receive mercy, there must be a party in authority and that party has to be offended by the other party.

Tonight we are going to talk about the mercy of God as we begin a series where we look at Jesus’ interactions with outsiders. This was most of Jesus ministry. He ate with, talked with, healed, and ministered to those who society had left out.


Mark 2:13–17 CSB
13 Jesus went out again beside the sea. The whole crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 Then, passing by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the toll booth, and he said to him, “Follow me,” and he got up and followed him. 15 While he was reclining at the table in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who were following him. 16 When the scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

v. 13

Jesus may have taught by the sea often because it made a natural amphitheater for teaching.

v. 14

Levi is also known as Matthew.
This toll booth was probably setup for people entering the city to tax goods coming into the city.
Tax collectors often worked for the Roman government or people who worked with the Roman government. They were seen as betrayers of their people because they did business with Gentiles.
A tax collector couldn’t even be a witness in a trial because his perspective was not respected or trusted.
Jesus calls him to follow Him, meaning become my disciple.
Matthew responds how everyone should respond, leaving everything behind to be with His King and Teacher. To follow a teacher is to put your faith in Him.

v. 15

Reclining at someone’s table is indicative of an intimate friendship with someone.
This may have been something where Levi gathers his sinner friends to come hear what Jesus has to say.

v. 16

The scribes who were Pharisees were indignant because an upstanding rabbi would NEVER have a meal with a sinner like Levi and his friends because it would make him unclean according to their laws.

v. 17

Jesus response is our focus tonight.
The comparison of a doctor to a teacher was common.
He shows that he didn’t come to this earth to spend time and befriend people who thought they were righteous. Instead, he came for those who know they are in need of a Savior.


Jesus came to bring mercy to you.

Yes, Jesus died for us. Sometimes, we believe that for everyone else but us. Look at what Jesus says though. He says in the presence of these INDIVIDUALS that He is there as a doctor for them.
The beginning of accepting mercy is understanding that you need it.

You can’t be too unclean for the mercy of God.

All of these people Jesus called to follow Him and is eating with are considered unclean by their whole society, yet he has an intimate meal with them. He brings them into His family.
In turn, he is NOT for those how believe they are righteous. He is not for those who think they have it all together.
The same can be said of you. Nothing you have done can keep you from the mercy of God except believing that you don’t need it in the first place. No sin is too great.

Your accepting of His mercy means that you extend His mercy.

When Matthew began to follow Jesus, he made a commitment to be like his teacher, talk like his teacher, and walk like his teacher. When he experienced the mercy of God, he invited his friends to come and hear about it for themselves.
We MUST do the same. If you have experience the mercy of God, you must follow Jesus by extending your and his mercy to them.


To be able to receive mercy, there must be a party in authority and that party has to be offended by the other party.


Two questions for you:
Do you need to accept the mercy of God today and say “Yes!” to Jesus now that He is calling you to follow Him?
Do you need to extend mercy to someone in your life tonight and forgive them?


What are some common obstacles that keep people from accepting the mercy of God through Jesus?
Do you believe that you need mercy from God? Have you received it from Jesus?
Who in your world would be considered an outcast because of who they are, something they’ve done, or someone they’ve associated with? How can you introduce them to Jesus?
Will you make a commitment to stop keeping outsiders as outsiders and start helping them become found in Jesus?
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