Monday, September 23, 2013

Jesus Came for Sinners (Mark 2:13-17)

In this story we see how Jesus dealt with sinners and non-religious people.

1) Jesus calls sinners into a relationship with Him. Jesus called Levi, who was a taxman. In those days, that was not just an unpopular position, it was a known corrupt way of getting rich. Tax collectors would purposely collect more than the Government demanded and keep the surplus. This was condoned by Rome, but it is seen as particularly treacherous to betray your own people and profit from an occupying force. Jesus chose Levi, an obvious sinner, to be His disciple. Really, every person called by God is a sinner. Levi was no worse and no better than any one of us. In God’s eyes one sinner is as much a sinner as any other. He loves us all.

(2) Jesus spent His time with sinners, not religious people. Jesus wanted to reach sinners, so he spent his time with them. You might say that everyone is a sinner, so why not spend time with everyone? Yes. However, Jesus sought out people who society saw (and who saw themselves) as sinners. There are a lot of sinners in this world who think that they are righteous, or whom society sees as good. As such, they have no dependence on God. Jesus seeks the “poor in spirit.” Those who know they need God.

(3) We have a relationship with Jesus because we recognize we are sinners too. When we are tempted to spend all of our time and only have relationships with religious people, we must remember that (a) Jesus has rescued us from sin, (b) He wants to rescue others and wants us to help Him reach them, and (C) in order to reach non-Christians we need to be with them. We need to spend time with them. We need to do things to make them feel welcome amongst us.

Ironically, the church treats its children, who start out lost, far better than other lost people. We usually make people go through a three-step process to belong to our fellowship. We tell them Believe, Behave, and then you can Belong. This is backwards from the way it should be. With our children we say, “You Belong to our group, this is how we Behave.” In time they often Believe.

Finally (4) We must never think we are better than other sinners. In Matthew’s telling of this story, he refers to Hosea 6:6. In that verse, God declares that He desires relationship with us, not religious sacrifice. We need to find ways to love those around us and bring them into the relationship we have with God. It is less about the religious behavior we engage in amongst ourselves and more about living out our relationship with God amongst people who need Him.

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