Mark: According To
Part 13 Mark 2:13-17
Eating with Sinners
Let’s take a moment to set a time line of events which we have seen over the last 57 or so verses. It is clear that not all the disciples were following Jesus, also the sermon on the mount had not yet taken place. It is safe to say that Philip, Bartholomew, Simon Peter, his brother Andrew, James and his younger brother John were following Jesus. Perhaps not constantly for Peter, James, John and Andrew sometimes heard the call of the fishing boat and would slip away to fish. Those that had been with Jesus had heard and saw many great things.
Verse 13 starts 13 Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them. 14 As He passed by, He saw Levi (Matthew) the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ So he arose and followed Him.
This is the way it should be. The reputation of Jesus or even Jesus’ followers should be such that when one is asked to follow Jesus there is no hesitation. And in deed I have seen a few that have come to Christ in just such a way. They have heard the calling of Christ and it takes just a simple invitation from one of Christ’s faithful servants for them to become active within and without the Christian community.
It is interesting to see the joy on their faces as they fully accept Jesus as their savior, so much so that there is an atmosphere of joy as they long to celebrate with other believers in what they have just found.
Levi Matthew was so overjoyed at this invitation to follow Christ that he decided to open his own home to Jesus, his disciples and all of Matthews friends. Who better to share the news of salvation with than those he used to hang around with and your new-found friends.
15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him.
I had never seen the this before, even with as many times as I have read it, the text literally says, “for there were many, and they followed Him.
This must have created quite a stir in and around Capernaum with so many suddenly leaving all and following Jesus. These were the hated tax collector, who were Jews that had aligned their allegiance to Rome. They taxed the people harshly and were known to be dishonest keeping for themselves any overages that they charged the people.
16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with tax collectors and sinner, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”
The servant of God, Jesus himself was giving us a wonderful example of service to God. You cannot keep yourself from all contact with the common sinner and expect them to want to become a Christian. All too often, the Christian builds a wall of separation around themselves in an attempt to keep themselves from becoming unclean by associating with common sinners.
Jesus was pointing out that this is not the way to do friendship evangelism. Friendship evangelism needs one and one personal contact. Once that contact is made and trust is formed and relationships start to bloom, then others need to be brought in to help fortify what has been presented to the one seeking Christ. But if we are not actively looking for opportunities for friendship evangelism then we have built up a wall around us like the Pharisees and other religious leaders in Christ’s day had done.
Our churches are dying for lack of friendship evangelism, and Christ gave us an example of coming together, eating and talking, sharing together, and yes, helping those that are in trouble.
17 “But when Jesus heard it, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’”
Looking back over the pages of sacred history of the four gospels it is very clear that more acts of kindness were done by those considered sinners and outcast of society than those who were considered righteous. God desires that all his faithful followers would have the character of a servant. A servant that is humble and teachable, who looks upon their own life and does not see the greatness they have done, but see where their character has not matched up with the perfect character of God. Then, because of their humble attitude, many will follow Christ who otherwise would never had the opportunity, because those doing the work are not after show or personal gain, but to glorify God.
The reality is when one thinks they are righteous, no amount of convincing on our part will show them were they fall short of God’s glory. Therefore, Jesus said, I did not come for those that are (feel they are) righteous, but for those that are sick and see their need.
My friend, where does the sum of your life fall. Are you among the righteous that are proud and unteachable, who would never stoop to the level of a servant, or are you a servant for the wrong reason for you are seeking fame and glory for the acts of kindness you perform. Which by the way is just as destructive as being self-righteous!
Or are you like the sinners and tax collectors that sat around talking and exchanging ideas and thoughts with the creator of the world, soaking up his message of simplicity of spirit and love for others. They had a teachable spirit and a willingness to serve so they followed Christ.
So the question is, “Will you follow Christ with the mentality of a servant as Christ Himself did?”