Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Encouragement to encounter Christ’s grace and to go forth in His mission



By Andrew Chan, Senior Pastor, PBC

Sept.23, 2001 PM Contemporary Service

The old saying goes "truth is stranger than fiction." And, there are many stories in our newspapers and on television that bear out that statement. Some of my favorite examples are "dumb criminals”.

1. The bank robber police are able to track down and arrest because his hold-up note was written on the back of his birth certificate.

2. The ex-computer company employee who returned to his office late at night to steal computer equipment. He was able to enter the building because he had jammed some paper into the door lock. The police apprehended him after finding the piece of paper, which was part of a parking ticket he had received a couple of days earlier.

3. Police in Boston were investigating a car theft. When they asked the owner about any valuables that were in the car, the man told them that two tickets to that evening’s Red Sox game were among the items in the car. Figuring they had nothing to lose, the cops went to the game and found both robbers sitting in those seats, and they had driven the stolen car to the game.

4. The robber who wrapped his whole head in duct tape for his disguise. He forgot to leave openings for his mouth and nose and wound up unconscious on the floor.

5. The guy who tried to break into a store by throwing a concrete block through the window. Unfortunately, the window wasn’t made of glass, but rather Plexiglas. The concrete block ricocheted of the Plexiglas and struck the would-be burglar in the head, knocking him out cold. All this was captured on video.

Hear another story now… truth is stranger than fiction…

Matt.9:9-13 (NLT)

As Jesus was going down the road, he saw Matthew sitting at his tax-collection booth. “Come, be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.

10 That night Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. 11 The Pharisees were indignant. “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” they asked his disciples.

12 When he heard this, Jesus replied, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices.’ For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.”

What’s with Jesus here? How come he is basically ignoring the “the good people”? I think Brennan Manning is right when he commented on this story: “This passage should be read, reread, and memorized. Every Christian generation tries to dim the blinding brightness of its meaning because the gospel sounds too good to be true.” We think the gospel has to be “deeper”, with more “meaningful” application, with more “meat.” That’s just too good to be true, ain’t it? There’s got to be more to it. Oh, how we dim the brightness of the gospel. We think the salvation belongs to those who are able to get all their pat answers regarding religion down to a science. We reduced God to a head game! Then we reduce Him to rules! We think we are doing God a favor, when we grudgingly get out of bed, head on to Sunday School to teach or learn. Perhaps we even hand out a bulletin, give some money at church, singing songs, get baptized, read the bible, pray, listening to academic theological treatises, turning up on Sunday on-time and filling up paperwork on church membership that we become religious, spiritual, pious, proper and right. To that Jesus, simply says I desire mercy not sacrifice. I have come to call the sinners, not those who think they are already good enough. Get it? All Jesus wants is to pour out His love, give mercy to undeserving sinners, to receive sinners and proclaim them not guilty of sin. WHY? He just loves people, that’s the Bible truth! He loves you and I and He is on a mission to tell us that. That’s the mission to call the sinners home to the love of God, who desires to shower mercy, and not terrorize us or bomb us out of existence.

This Good news means we can stop all our pretending. We need not to go through anymore self-deception. We don’t need to protect God’s reputation. It has already being ruined by His humiliating death, hanging naked on a cross, reserved for criminals. His reputation has already been ruined because He dared to offer mercy to sick people, sinners, such as you and I as the wrathful eyes of the self-righteous Pharisees looked on. Yes, the Good news means that though Christ is victorious over sin and death as He rose from the dead, the battle with lust, greed and pride still rages on within us. As a sinner, who knows the on-going protective power of God’s redemptive love and mercy, I can be free to acknowledge that I am often unloving, I get irritated at irritable people, impatient people, I get angry at those who talk behind my back and resentful. I don’t need to put on a white hat just to go to church, I can admit failure and Jesus loves me still, you see, He died for all my sins! I don’t need spiritual cosmetics to make myself better looking for God. God accepts me, zits and all. I don’t need to go on a crusade or a jihad get rid of infidels to prove how righteous I am. I can accept ownership of my own spiritual poverty, powerlessness and neediness. God pours out His mercy as we come admitting that to Him. That’s the mission Jesus was on when came here, to die on that cross.

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