Jesus the unorthodox Messiah, part 2: Mark 2:13-17

Paolo Veronese 007

Mark 2:13-17 ESV

“13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 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.

15 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.16 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?”

17 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.””

Messiahs are not supposed to hang out with sinners and bad people (tax collectors- Jewish person who is working for Rome).  They are supposed to keep themselves pure, and hanging out with these kind of people can stain them.

Exactly.  Jesus took our sins and stains upon himself. He came to reconcile sinners to God. It’s not the supposed righteous who need a savior, it’s the sinners. We’re all sinners (Romans 3:23; 1 Timothy 2:15). Missing the mark of God’s holiness. Falling short. And those who are honest with themselves know this is true.  So Jesus hangs out with them.

Why did the Pharisees talk to his disciples?  Two possible reasons: they don’t want to approach Jesus yet and so they ask them. Better reason: Pharisees were not going to go into the center of this sinful house where sinners were. And the disciples are finding Jesus’ ways new, also. Jesus is eating with the sinners. So they ask the disciples who were eating perhaps on the periphery.  They probably didn’t care a lot for tax collectors themselves.  This is new territory for them, Jesus calling someone despised by their society. So perhaps they were hanging on the outside of the group at Levi’s house and the Pharisees found them where they could approach them. And so they asked them this question.

Notice it is Jesus who takes up the answer, however.  He’s the one who knows why he is doing this, after all.  And he makes it clear he came to help sinners.  So he is with them.  In Matthew and Luke he is called the friend of tax collectors and sinners.  Others are calling him that. What a great name if we were called such today.  But this also implies that Jesus could judge others as sinful. As sinners.  And we are all sinners. So if we hang out with someone with the good news in our hearts, we have an answer to give to a sinner like ourselves.  And it’s ok to agree with God about what is sinful.  This is a fallen sinful world. Period. And there are twisted perversions all amongst us. And we are all in need of the savior Jesus.  We need to stop justifying our sinful behaviors and start agreeing with the Judge and Savior of mankind: he came to call sinners.

  • Do we befriend and hang out with “sinners” where they live?
  •  Do we care about outcasts from society?
  • Do we think we need to keep ourselves pure by not associating with those who we find impure?
  • Do we judge others who spend time with sinners where they like to hang out?