Summary: In this sermon we see that the main reason Jesus came was to rescue sinners.
Today is the third week of a ten-week series of messages based on a book that is titled Christianity Explored by Rico Tice and Barry Cooper, out of England.
The purpose of this series is to explore Christianity, primarily through the writing of Mark in his book we call The Gospel of Mark.
By the way, this series is an excellent opportunity for you to invite friends, family, neighbors and colleagues to attend. If they are interested in learning more about Christianity, they will not be disappointed. So, invite people to join you on Sundays in the coming weeks.
Now, I have asserted that the heart of Christianity is a person—Jesus of Nazareth. To that end we are particularly interested in addressing three questions:
1. Who is Jesus?
2. Why did Jesus come?
3. What does it mean to follow Jesus?
Last week we looked at the first question: Who is Jesus? Mark asserts that Jesus is “the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). That is, Jesus is God in human form. Moreover, Mark gives five evidences that Jesus is God in human form because he shows us that Jesus has power and authority to teach, heal, calm storms, raise the dead, and (most importantly and significantly) forgive sin.
Today I want to look at the second question: Why did Jesus come? Let us begin by reading 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.” (Mark 2:13-17)
Sometimes we experience things in life that give us an uncomfortable dose of reality. Maybe you’ve joined a gym and discovered just how unfit you are; or had a medical check that gave you a jolt; or been told a few home truths by a close friend.
When I was a student at the University of Cape Town I had to pass an exam for a level 1 course at the end of the summer in order to attend the level 2 course that fall. At the start of the summer I had all the books, notes and materials necessary to study for the exam. I remember thinking to myself that I had almost three months to prepare for the exam. During the summer I occasionally spent a few minutes here and there glancing at the material. But, before I knew it, the summer was over and I was back at the University of Cape Town taking the exam. Needless to say, I was horribly unprepared for the exam. I failed the exam. My lack of preparation for the exam was exposed.
Listening to what Jesus has to say about you and me can be extremely uncomfortable because it exposes what we are really like. And, in a way, the title for this sermon could be, “I wish I didn’t have to tell you this!”
Today, I want to address the question: Why did Jesus come? How would you answer that question?
Did Jesus want to bring peace on earth? That’s the Jesus of Christmas carols.
Was it to cure disease and end suffering in the world? That’s Jesus the great healer.
Did he want to give us a supreme example of how to live? That’s Jesus the great teacher.
Or was his aim to reform society? That’s Jesus the political activist.
Although there is an element of truth in each of these options, Mark’s Gospel doesn’t give any of them as Jesus’ main aim.
According to Mark, the reason Jesus came was to rescue rebels.
So, today, I want us to see that the main reason Jesus came was to rescue rebels.
I. Jesus Came to Rescue Rebels
So, first, Jesus came to rescue rebels.
In Mark 2:13-17 there are two groups of people—the good guys and the bad guys.
The bad guys are made up of people like Levi the son of Alphaeus, many tax collectors and sinners. Tax collectors were even more hated then than they are today. Not only were they seen as cheating their fellow Jews out of their hard-earned cash, but they were also seen as betraying God’s people because they were working for the occupying Roman forces. The tax collectors and sinners are all just lumped together, and they’re the bad guys.