Summary: It's a fact worth pondering: the tax collectors and sinners LIKED being with Jesus. That's not usually how the lost feel around us. What did Jesus have that we don't?
AN IMPORTANT FACT: The tax collectors and “sinners” liked hanging out with Jesus.
- Matthew 9:10.
- It’s easy to rush past verse 10 and get to the rest of this story, but it’s worth settling for a moment here and thinking about its implications. The tax collectors and sinners wanted to be with Him. He wasn’t forcing them or bribing them – they wanted to be near Him.
- That is a far cry from our reputation today.
- Most of what we’re known for today is negative, not positive.
- Now, this wasn’t because Jesus was light on sin. He did not wink at sin, yet He still drew crowds.
- He consistently called people to repent and told people to “go and sin no more.”
WHAT'S THAT MEAN? True Christlikeness is intrinsically attractive.
- Why was it that they wanted to be near Him?
a. Genuine hope via the miracles.
b. Genuine hope via changed lives.
c. Genuine hope via opportunity for forgiveness.
d. Genuine hope via feeling loved by Him.
e. Genuine hope via Him not being holier-than-thou.
- Compare Jesus’ life to that of the Pharisees:
a. They were hypocrites.
b. They didn’t show how to live for God but instead just left people feeling guilty.
c. They were focused on appearance.
d. They were not humble.
e. They had technical rules.
f. They didn’t show true mercy and justice.
- There is a radiance to genuine love and compassion that is attractive. There is a warmth to someone genuinely caring for you that is attractive.
- Conversely, there is a deadness and emptiness to hypocritical Pharisaism that makes you want no part of it.
- When it comes to this intrinsic attractiveness, there is a strong argument to made that many Christians have more in common with the Pharisees than with Jesus.
- An interesting example that we’ve seen over the last year is Pope Francis. Even though we’re not Catholic, we can see what I’m talking about at work there.
- He has made a lot of headlines for his acts of mercy and integrity. Even people who know nothing about the Bible and who Jesus really is find what Francis is doing to be attractive. There is a natural attractiveness to it. They know that what He is doing is right and godly, even if they don’t really have any ability to back that up with Scripture.
- Obviously, there are significant theological difference between Catholics and Baptists, but even as a non-Catholic the winsome nature of Francis is clear.
- In considering the intrinsic attractiveness of Christlikeness, we need to ponder how relatively unattractive “sinners” find us as Christians as well as our churches.
- One comment I’ve received numerous times down through the years from a host of people is “you don’t act like a preacher.” What do people mean by that? They mean that I don’t put on airs and act all puffed up – just being real. It’s nice to hear that compliment, but mostly it makes me sad that the overall impression of preachers is so bad that acting normal stands out.
THREE QUESTIONS FOR US:
1. HOW MANY UNSAVED FRIENDS DO I HAVE?
- We often circle the wagons and only have church friends.
- This problem gets worse the longer we’re Christians.
- As you look at your life right now, can you name five unsaved friends you have?
- Consider the statement in v. 11 – they are dumbfounded that a holy man would want to be near these sinners. It’s all-too-easy for our mission to slide from holiness-by-transformation to holiness-by-separation.
2. HOW MANY UNSAVED FRIENDS DO I ENJOY?
- Let’s go a step beyond just having unsaved friends – how many unsaved friends do I enjoy?
- Jesus obviously enjoyed being around these folks – it’s evident in their response to Him. He genuinely loved them and enjoyed them.
- We don’t like them.
- We get offended by their questionable behavior.
- Rather than seeing the valuable person behind the action, we see only the sinful action.
- We make it clear by our actions that we don’t want to be around them.
- Yancey talking to the prostitute: “Have you thought about going to church?” “Why would I go to church? I feel bad enough about myself already.”
3. WHAT IN MY LIFE WOULD THEY WANT?
- We want those away from God to become Christians. As they look at our lives, what about our lives is drawing them toward God?
- Do they see an attractive mercy?
- Do they see an attractive joy?
- Do they see and attractive peace?
- Or do they think of coming to God as something that you’d have to do as a concession to not wanting to go to hell rather than a joyful acceptance of abundant life?