Summary: Looking at ways Jesus shows us His heart, through His love and power.
Jesus Came for Sinners
October 16, 2016
When you have children you always want to make sure that they hang out with the right people. You scrutinize what you know about their friends. You have your impressions from the times you meet them, the times you see them interact with others, and the comments you hear about them from others.
We don’t want them to hang out with those kids who may lead them into those valleys of darkness, where our kids will do something or just be with someone when bad things happen.
On the other hand, we want our kids to hang out with people who seem nice, respecting of others, considerate, fun, make good choices, don’t swear, don’t drink, don’t do drugs. We want them to enjoy life, but to be smart with their decisions, especially with their friends.
Well, we’re in part 2 of a series I’m calling the Heart of Christ. We’re looking at some stories and situations where Jesus really showed us His heart. Where we see what our Lord and Savior was all about. Sometimes we hear people talk a big game, but we don’t see it in action. For Jesus, His words and actions were congruous.
There’s a story in the Gospel of Matthew which is very telling, which shows the heart of Jesus. In some ways, maybe the first time we started reading the Bible we came across this passage and shook our head wondering why Jesus would do this. As we got to know more about Jesus, and understand His mission, this passage made all the more sense.
Let’s look at 5 verse passage from Matthew 9:9-13 ~
9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed Him.
10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and His disciples.
11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 But when He heard it, Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” — Matthew 9:9-13
Let's take a quick look at the political and religious environment of Israel, actually, the southern kingdom, called Judea, in the 1st century. The Romans had conquered almost everything and were in charge. They set up a capitol city in a place called Caesarea, about 70 miles north of Jerusalem. Herod the Great built this city in honor of Caesar Augustus and the Roman Empire.
If you were to dock your boat in the port of Caesarea, the first substantial building you would come across would be a temple to Caesar Augustus. He was considered one of the Roman gods. So in Israel, in the Promised Land, there was a temple for emperor worship. If you were a Jew living in Israel in the 1st century, this all would have really bothered you — to have Roman soldiers walking through your streets, to have Caesarea built along your coast, and to have a temple built to the Emperor Augustus.
The Jewish people reacted to this by creating a group actually called the "separated ones." These people wanted to keep their hearts separate from the Romans for God, as God had commanded, "You shall have no other gods . . . . Do not make statues and bow down to them." The Jews had certain cleanliness practices, including eating only "clean" or kosher foods. But the separated ones not only believed that certain foods were clean or unclean; they came to believe that there were clean and unclean people. The Romans were unclean, and the separated ones tried to make themselves clean.
As you read through the ministry of Jesus, you will not run into the term "separated ones." Yet, in many ways, we can respect these people for what they were wanting to accomplish.
The phrase Separated Ones actually comes from a word you have heard of - - - Pharisees. The word Pharisee means "separated one." It was the Pharisees who determined not to take part in Roman practices. They wanted hearts that were separated from the Romans for God.
This is all part of the back story to help us see what was going on.
So Jesus is walking down the road, and He passes a tax collection booth. A little history . . . The Romans would hire Jews to collect Roman taxes in their villages. They would hire people who knew the villages, who knew who was who and who owed what. The Romans would basically auction off the right to be the town's tax collector to the highest bidder. Then the tax collector could skim money off the top, calling it commissions.