Thursday, September 24, 2015

Jesus Loves Even...‘Them’

Mark 2:14-17 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. (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? (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.

This is one of those passages that gets misused, misapplied and abused by those that want to support and promote THEIR own agendas.  

Why is this passage referenced so much by so many?  The passage simply is telling the event of Jesus convincing regular people to follow him.  In this case, it was Alphaeus.  What is so special about Alphaeus?  He is a tax collector.  Tax collectors during Jesus’ time was uniquely hated.  The Romans used the native people to collect the taxes from their own people and so they were hated for being traitors.  What’s more is that they had the full authority of the Roman government and could set the tax at whatever they wanted.  For instance, if the Roman Government wanted $100 from a jewish family, the individual tax collector could DEMAND $200 and keep the difference.   Therefore they were HATED by the average person...much more than we despise the IRS.

After Jesus convinced Alphaeus to follow him, he went to Alphaeus’s house to eat a meal.  In doing so, it appears that Alphaeus did something that I believe that we all would have done...he invited his friends over to meet Jesus.  The problem is that because, as a tax collector, he was considered the dregs of society.  And so his friends would also be considered dregs as well.  The text identified these people as “publicans & sinners”.  The horror of this passage is that Jesus had the audacity to actually eat and spend time time with these “low life’s”.  The text tells us that when the religious leaders of the day saw this, they condemned Jesus for his behavior.

This is where the twisting of the truth happens.  People think, teach, promote and distort the idea that because Jesus ate with them he condoned their lifestyles.  I have heard people go so far as to paraphrase this passage that Jesus hung out in bars and actually participated in the sinful acts of the world.  This is so far off from the truth that it is disgusting.

3 Truths we need to get from this passage:

1.  Jesus Valued All Men!
While the religious leaders of the day were quick to write off the “sinners” and relegate them as lost causes, Jesus saw them as lost and he came to find them!  He saw them as sick and dying and in need of saving. This is one passage that we learn about Jesus being the Great Physician.

Mark 2:17 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.

There is no sin so big, there is no amount of sin so many that Jesus did not come to save.  Therefore if Jesus thinks all people are worth saving, we should too!

2.  Jesus Did NOT Condone Sin!
While those that desire to misuse this passage wants to focus on Jesus socializing with the sinners, they wrongly conclude that his socializing with them was an approval of their sin.  On the contrary.  So if he did not condone their actions, what was the purpose of spending time together?  He loved them and wanted to save them!  News Flash:  You cannot save someone that you first reject and toss away!  There is an old saying that applies here: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know that you care”!  Jesus understood this principle and so in order to get folks to listen, that might not have otherwise...he let them know that he cared by eating with them.  That is NOT condoning their lifestyle!

3.  Jesus Teaches that Sin Must be Repented from
The passage itself, if people care to actually care to read it, shows that Jesus did not condone, approve of, or even over look the lifestyles, behaviors, choices or actions of these sinners.

Mark 2:17 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.

Instead of approving their sin, Jesus taught, hoped for and encouraged their REPENTANCE.  Repentance is an acknowledgement of sin and a desire and a commitment to turn away from sin to live a life that is in alignment with the Will of God!

Romans 12:1-2  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 

Reflecting His SON,  
Dennis Hogan
Minister, North Hardin Church of Christ

1804 Sam Stewart Dr.
Radcliff, KY  40160

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