Summary: Dominant Thought: Jesus came to call the sinner to righteousness and to show the self-righteous his sin.

Paul was a member of the church in St. Joe, IN, an elder. He and his wife were really great friends to us the whole time we lived there. They’d do anything for us…almost. Paul was retired, which meant he had a lot of time to work on his lawn, and he enjoyed it, and it showed. His lawn always looked like it belonged on the cover of “Better Homes and Gardens.” Have you ever had someone like that live just 2 doors down from you?

It makes your lawn look pretty bad! I loved Paul, but he sure made my lawn crummy, even if it was just average.

Seems like there has always been someone like that next door to me! Seriously, couldn’t someone with just a slightly weedy, slightly unkempt lawn live by me? Having that slightly imperfect lawn next door can help yours look so much better!

It’s like the Oreo diet plan I read about: you just buy 4 dozen bags of double stuffed Oreos… and give them to all the people who hang out around you!

Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Mt 23 are like that unkempt lawn:

Matthew 23:13 (NIV)

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

Matthew 23:15 (NIV)

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

Matthew 23:24-26 (NIV)

24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. 25 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

We really like the Pharisees, don't we? They can make us look so good - always fighting with Jesus, always in the wrong, it seems. We really look good when we compare ourselves to them... unless we look like them!!!

Mark has grouped together very neatly these run-ins with our favorite Bible villains. You have to ignore the chapter divisions at this point – Mark didn’t write those in. Each run-in, Jesus responded differently. It’s not until the 5th scene that we hear the Pharisee’s even respond. Jesus is the star here, not them.

The confrontation that we are going to look at today deals with the purpose of His ministry. How Jesus relates to sinful people is one of the more often misunderstood issues about Him. Mark's gospel couldn't be clearer on this point: Jesus had a purpose in His ministry, and sinful people played a big part in that purpose.

Mark 2:13-17 (NIV)

Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

I. Uses Sinners

Levi was a tax collector. To put that into more familiar terms, Levi was like an IRS auditor X10!

Look at him that way, and you begin to get an idea of what the people thought of tax collectors! They were thieves, traitors to the Jewish nation who obtained their job by buying it. Levi worked for Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas worked for the Roman Empire. There was no love lost between Roman politicians and the Jews. Become one of their toadies and you’re not going to be on very many Jewish favorite fives lists.

So, you have less than 3 years before you hand over your life’s work to 11 men. The success of your entire mission will rest on how well they carry on after you leave. You better choose carefully. What kind of people do you recruit? Political leaders? Religious leaders? Skilled workers? Engineers? Rich people? Public figures? Who do you use?

Jesus uses (used) sinners.


1. Serving the Lord is one of the ways that we grow up in Him.

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