Summary: Jesus calls all the wrong kinds of people to join his revolution. Apparently, the wrong kinds of people are just right for Jesus.

“All the Wrong Kinds of People”

Mark 1:16-20

Mark 2:13-17

INTRODUCTION: If you were going to start a revolution, what kinds of people would you recruit? What demographic would you target? What character qualities would you look for? I suppose it might depend on what kind of revolution you were hoping to start, wouldn’t it? So let’s suppose it’s the biggest revolution there can be—God’s revolution, a spiritual revolution. Say that (as Brian McLaren puts it) humanity has created a totalitarian regime—a regime of lust; a regime of pride and power; a regime of racism, classism, ageism, and nationalism; a regime of consumerism and greed, where life is commodified, where people become slaves to their jobs, where time is money (which makes life become money). This regime is unacceptable, to put it mildly, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. God is sending His Only Son to recruit people to join a revolutionary movement of change ...

>>What kinds of people does Jesus call to join him in spiritual revolution? It seems to me, frankly, that Jesus called all the wrong kinds of people. [READ 1:16-20]

I. Jesus called people who were busy (1:16-20)

A. He called people busy with work (16-18)

1. A few people in Jewish Palestine were rich; most were relatively poor. Some, like fishermen, tended to fall between the rich and the poor. James and John clearly were not poor—they had “hired servants” as only well-off people did. None of these first followers left their business behind because it was going badly; they left behind well-paying jobs.

2. APPLICATION: Is your work keeping you busy? Maybe you’re the wrong kind of people to look for as spiritual revolutionaries.

B. He called people busy with family (19-20)

1. Many Jewish teachers in Jesus’ day felt that the greatest commandment was to honor one’s parents. To abruptly leave behind one’s family and the family business was a great sacrifice that went against everything the culture taught.

2. I picture Zebedee as Marty Crane, the grumpy father on "Frasier": “Oh sure! Just drop what you’re doing and follow this teacher guy. Who’s gonna finish mending these nets? Whup, net’s got a tear—I guess we’re all done with fishing! In my day, family came first! But if you boys want to leave everything I’ve taught you, and dump your only marketable skill, to wander around with some carpenter’s kid from Nazareth, you go right ahead.”

3. APPLICATION: Is your family keeping you busy? Your kids, your spouse, your parents? Maybe you’re not revolutionary material. But you know, Jesus called all the wrong kinds of people.

II. Jesus called people who were disreputable (2:13-16)

A. Levi was sitting “at the tax collector’s booth." We’re not talking about an income tax collector here. He was a customs official. Levi would have been assigned to a tax booth at a bridge or on a major highway. And he would charge a commodities tax on anything you were bringing into the area. So if you just caught ten fish on the Sea of Galilee, you would get taxed for the privilege of carrying your fish through that area on your way.

1. And what made people hate these tax collectors so much is that they usually charged people way more money than what the government required! And they took the extra money and kept it for themselves! And the Roman government didn’t care as long as they got their cut.

2. But there was something else that made Levi even worse than the average tax collector. He was JEWISH! Jews weren’t supposed to be getting rich at the expense of their own people! And they weren’t supposed to be working for the evil, Gentile Roman government! In fact, the Pharisees had a rule that if a Jewish man took a job as a tax collector, he was kicked out of the synagogue, and ostracized by the community. When they saw Levi, they would have said, "Levi is a traitor to Almighty God! He’s the worst kind of sinner there is!"

3. You might wonder what was going through the mind of the disciples as Jesus walked toward the tax-collecting booth.

a. “Is this it? Is this the beginning of the revolution, is he going to turn over the table, rip down the booth & beat this guy up? … That’d be good.”

b. “Maybe he is going to call that wicked man to repentance, I hope he’ll give it to him with both barrels!”

B. But when Jesus saw Levi, he saw a lonely man who needed a Savior. He saw someone who desperately needed something else to live instead of taking other people’s money. And so Jesus extended an invitation to this lonely outcast and said, "Follow me! Society may have rejected you. But I’m not going to reject you. Come Levi, and fulfill your destiny at my side. Come and follow me!"

1. And the fact that Levi DOES leave everything to follow Jesus makes his life a real challenge to those of us who are more interested in building our own kingdoms than in building His kingdom. He hadn’t been thinking of himself as revolutionary material--he was the wrong kind of person.

2. I guess Levi was so excited and so grateful, that he said, "Lord, why don’t you have supper at my house? You invited me into your ministry. Let me return the favor and invite you into my life." And he was so overjoyed that not only did he invite Jesus, he invited all of his tax collector friends! He wanted everyone he knew to meet the man who touched his life.

C. ILLUSTRATION: One Sunday evening, William Booth was walking in London with his son, Bramwell, who was then 12 or 13 years old. The father surprised the son by taking him to a tavern! The place was crowded with men and women. Some of them were drunk. Some of them were loud. And the air was filled with the smell of alcohol and tobacco. And Bramwell said to his dad, "Can we go now? Why did you even bring me in here?" And General Booth said, "Son, these are our people; these are the ones I want you to love. These are the people I want you to live for. These are the people I want you to bring to Christ." Years later, Bramwell wrote, "That was a lesson I never forgot."

D. APPLICATION: Do you have a past? Do you run with a questionable crowd? Have you had a recent “lapse in judgment” that has caused you & your family pain? Do you struggle with a shameful hidden sin? Maybe you’re the wrong kind of person. But the strangest thing is, Jesus kept calling all the wrong kinds of people.

III. Jesus called people who didn’t really “get it” (2:17)

A. Table fellowship indicated a level of intimacy among those who shared it. The Pharisees were particularly scrupulous about their special rules on eating and did not like to eat with less scrupulous people, especially people like tax gatherers and sinners. Here they assume that Jesus, being a wise teacher, ought to share their religious convictions. But Jesus called people who didn’t really get who he really was or what his mission was really about. Mark makes this point again and again—and I haven’t even mentioned Judas, who would betray him. Or Peter, who thrice publically denied him. Or Saul, who would imprison and murder Jesus’ followers out of religious zeal.

B. ILLUSTRATION Dallas Willard writes: “As a child I lived in an area of southern Missouri where electricity was available only in the form of lightning. But in my senior year of high school the REA (Rural Electrification Administration) extended its lines into the area where we lived, and electrical power became available to households and farms. When those lines came by our farm, a very different way of living presented itself. Our relationships to fundamental aspects of life—daylight and dark, hot and cold, clean and dirty, work and leisure, preparing food and preserving it—could then be vastly changed for the better. But we still had to believe in the electricity and its arrangements, understand them, and take the practical steps involved in relying on it. You may think the comparison rather crude, and in some respects it is. But it will help us to understand Jesus’ basic message about the kingdom of heaven if we pause to reflect on those farmers who, in effect, heard the message: "Repent, for electricity is at hand." “ Turn from your kerosene lamps and lanterns, your iceboxes and cellars, your scrub-boards and rug beaters, your woman-powered sewing machines and your radio with dry-cell batteries.” The power that could make their lives far better was right there near them where, by making relatively simple arrangements, they could utilize it. Strangely, a few did not accept it. They did not enter the kingdom of electricity. Some just didn’t want to change. Others could not afford it, or so they thought.

To be sure, God’s kingdom has been here as long as we humans have been here, and longer. But it has been available to us through simple confidence in Jesus, the Anointed, only from the time he became a public figure.

C. APPLICATION: Jesus brought his followers along with him even though they didn’t know who he was. This is the rationale for a withreach approach. And it’s revolutionary.

1. A large religious publisher asked on a nationwide survey what churches ought to do more of in order to be credible and true to purpose. Among respondents who are active in a church, the predominant answers focused on sharing Christ (and on worship). The predominant answer from non-church attenders: “Do more for the poor and the hungry.”

2. Outreach categorizes people as “in” or “out,” and targets the ones who are out. We tend to be very skilled at this. We name committees and annual campaigns “outreach,” we have “outreach” training, buy “outreach” programs. But few people like to be targeted.

3. What people do respond to, is when we seek to come alongside, connect with them naturally and at a meaningful level, develop community with them, listen for their heart’s dream as well as their hurts and needs, discern what God may already have begun within them, and journey with them toward God and toward God’s dreams for them and for us.

4. Churchwide Withreach Project this September

CONCLUSION: Jesus calls all the wrong kinds of people to follow him in his spiritual revolution that he calls the Kingdom of God. I’m the wrong kind of person to be a revolutionary. I’m not that organized, and I’m not that great a strategist. I prioritize my comfort too much, and I can be pretty selfish. And I don’t really look the part. I’m the wrong kind of person, and so are you. You might be thinking, “I’m not really revolutionary material.” And you’re right. Yet, Jesus persists in calling all the wrong kinds of people. The wrong kinds of people are just right for Jesus.