Summary: A message examining how Jesus interacted with "sinners" and such.
Jesus, Friend of Sinners
October 23, 2005
What we’re going to look at today is a great example of one of the things I love most about Jesus and what I try to exemplify most about him.
I’m not perfect in this, and I blow it sometimes, but I hope someday that someone will complain about me the way the complained about Jesus in this area.
Here we see Jesus daring to be seen associating with sinners. And he gets called on the carpet for it. But the great thing is that he’s okay with that. Why? Because it gives him yet another opportunity to teach people about the love of God and to show it in a way that everyone could relate to.
It’s easy to say that God loves everybody. It’s another thing to hang out around people that you’re not always comfortable around simply because God loves them.
Let’s look at how Jesus handles this by looking at Matthew, chapter 9, verses 9-13. If you’re using the Bibles in the seats in front of you, you can find this passage on page 687.
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ’sinners’?"
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ’I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
In this passage, I think we can find four habits of Jesus that are actually exhibited throughout the gospels. These habits excited some and bugged others. But they all served to glorify the Father and expand the kingdom of God.
And my intention here today is to give you something you can not only file away in your brain about the way Jesus operated while on earth, but that you’ll find something you can use in your efforts to reflect Jesus while you’re on earth.
Let’s get started, shall we? Here’s the first habit we find:
Jesus called all kinds of people.
The "Matthew" here is the author of the gospel of Matthew, who, as we see from our passage today, was a tax collector.
Tax collectors were despised because they worked for the Romans. They worked on commission by collecting taxes plus a profit for their efforts.
I wonder what kind of reaction Jesus got from the other disciples when Jesus walked up to Matthew?
I wonder if they were thinking, "This’ll be good - Jesus’ll give him the old ’what for!’" And then, to their shock, amazement, and maybe even horror, they hear Jesus utter the words of invitation.
Jesus called fisherman, tax collectors, and even a Zealot - a person who was dedicated to the violent overthrow of Rome. Can you imaging HIS reaction when he first met Matthew?
There is no place in Scripture where Jesus asked for a guy’s spiritual or career credentials before becoming his follower. He didn’t call spiritual giants to be his followers.
I don’t know about you, but I’m awful glad about that. That not only gives me hope for myself, it gives me hope for some of you, too! He called all kinds of people.
Here’s another habit we find in our passage...
Jesus "hung around" all kinds of people.
I’m going to camp here a bit, so hang on, okay?
Jesus could hang out with the rich and the poor, the religious leaders and, as we see in this passage today, those who weren’t particularly religious.
Verse 10 -
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples.
And this caused no end of scandal. It got him into trouble more than once, as we see from these verses in Luke 15 -
Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
What attracted all these "sinful" people to the holiest man of all time, Jesus? It was his willingness to be seen with them!
There is a mind-set among some Christians that says we should insulate ourselves from sinners so we don’t get polluted by their sin.
The grain of truth there is that if we’re not careful, we can be the "influencee" rather than the "influencer."