BIG IDEA: Where would you be surprised to run into Jesus? Turns out you could find him anywhere.
SERIES: The Most Important Question Ever Asked – A Study in the Gospel According to Mark: John Mark, a traveling companion of the Apostle Peter, wrote this gospel. We trust his writing because of that tie to Peter, an Apostle of Christ. He writes this gospel by taking down Peter’s account of Christ. It’s written likely because the Apostles were aging and their stories needed to be told for the coming generations. These are essentially the memoirs of Peter written to a group of Christians in Rome, and it’s written with a sense of urgency. Jesus came to accomplish a mission and to do so with a remarkable sense of urgency. Throughout the entirety of the gospel, there is the most important question ever asked: Who do you say Jesus is? Fist gospel written.
SCRIPTURE: Mark 2:13-17
13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 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.
15 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. 16 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?” 17 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.”
- Have you prejudged Jesus? Who he is, who he hangs out with, what he’s about?
- Are you willing to set that aside, and allow Jesus to tell you himself?
- Notice Two Things:
- God initiates: It may seem, based on the story of the paralytic and the story of Levi, that sometimes we initiate the conversation with God and sometimes he initiates. But God always initiates, and he gets all the credit and all the glory. Your job is to respond.
- The Crowd Mentality: In both stories, there’s a crowd, and some people stay in crowd and others step out of it. We have an element of groupthink happening. When they seek an answer, they don’t go to the source, but instead, they seek out the answer they want to hear as opposed to the truth. The scribes and the Pharisees don’t ask Jesus why he’s eating with less than savory types. They ask the disciples, instead, who at this point really didn’t know Jesus all that well.
- Do you want the full story of who Jesus is? Are you willing to go to the source to get the best answer? Then stop asking the less informed and go straight to the source: ask Jesus who he says that he is. Pray through the gospels, asking Jesus who he is. You will start to develop the best possible answer that you can have.
- Why did the company Jesus kept upset the scribes and the Pharisees? The scribes and the Pharisees were hyper religious and very conservative in their ability to follow Old Testament law and the religion of their day. One of the things that was frowned upon, was socializing with tax collectors.
- Who were the tax collectors? They were people who would charge a toll between counties as goods and individuals passed through.
- Disgust: The level of disgust that the Jews had for tax collectors, especially Jewish tax collectors, was on an unparalleled level. They were the most hated group of people. We could think of tax collectors of Wall Street executives where the Jews were organizers for the Occupy Wall Street movement.
- Jesus doesn’t excuse the behavior of the people he associated with. He knew the crooked and corrupt ways of the tax collectors. His message is not one of dismissal or approval, but rather one of healing. He came to heal the sick, straighten the crooked.
- Not for the righteous: If you fail to understand Jesus’ mission, to save the sinner, then you will miss Jesus. He came to deal with the symptoms of unrighteousness, which is knowing the commands of God and not acting on them.
- None are righteous: We choose time and time again to act against the commands of God.
- Right Medicine: If you are not able to actively identify and admit to the symptoms of unrighteousness in your life, then you won’t call the doctor, or you’ll call the wrong doctor.
- Self-Awareness: The tax collectors and sinners had enough self-awareness to know that they were in need of a doctor. Jesus didn’t sneak into the gathering at Levi’s house, hoping to catch them unawares. Most likely, Levi invited his friends to hear what Jesus had to say. In this story, it’s the scribes and the Pharisees who lack self-awareness. How did it play out like this?
- Who has the advantage? Tax collectors and sinners have a bit of an advantage over the religiously and morally upright because the former group has nothing to hide. They have less shame (a horizontal, personal issue) and more guilt (a vertical, legal issue).
- A Legal Issue: Our unrighteousness is a legal issue, a vertical issue in our relationship with God. Jesus came to resolve our legal issue of unrighteousness, to resolve our guilt.
- Misuse: Using the Jesus community only to deal with shame in your life, then you will miss out on resolving your guilt. Dealing just with shame is putting a band aid on a greater problem. Jesus communities are about being forgiven so that you can love and accept others.
- Who have you decided isn’t worthy of the Kingdom of God? Pray for the courage to re-engage those people because they deserve to hear about Jesus. If Jesus is willing to be shamed by the company that he kept, then so should you.
- You should still be careful: Jesus didn’t have any history of sin. If you have a history of sin, then watch you hang out with, and don’t put yourself in dangerous positions based on your history of sin. And don’t isolate yourself. Be thoughtful and surround yourself with both Christians and non-Christians.
- You will be the light of the gospel in people’s lives.