If you’re visiting with us, I want to welcome you to Alpine Bible Church. I want to invite all of you to turn to the book of Mark, as we engage this series together that we’re on talking about the Genius of Jesus. Which I think is important for our lives, especially in the summertime when life gets busy, you travel around, you can’t wait for your kids to get back in schools. You go crazy. You know how summer goes. But one of the things that we really want to do as a church family is we just want to draw closer to Jesus. We want to use this summer, just to look at the simplicity of Christ and where our hearts rest in Him. And connect to the Lord in that way. To know Him as he desires to be made known.
And just for the sake of clarity, as we gather together here as a church family, I just want us to think about the significance of the time that we have here together. You live in your week, you’ve got lots of things coming at you, lots of different to do lists that you’ve got to get accomplished. And lots of things that are trying to speak into your life and tell you how important they are. All these important things. But there’s nothing more sacred and important than the opportunity we have to open God’s word.
God’s word isn’t just an important thing in the midst of all sorts of important things that you encounter in your life. This is God communicating to you His love letter about the significance of who you are and who he is and how that connects and how it drives what we do as people. And so out all the priorities that we have today, the most important thing I think we can do together, and I’m so thankful that you’re here to be able to partake of this with us, is just look at God’s word and understand what he communicates to us about himself so that we can understand who we are in light of who he is and why we’re even on this planet together.
And so when you look at the Bible this morning, one of the hopes that I have for all of us as we go through this series is just in consideration of Jesus, the opportunity we have just to hit the reset button to some degree. Because when people talk about Jesus, there are lots of opinions on who Jesus is. And many of them are bad. And by bad I mean wrong. But if we could just go to scripture and just start with the simplicity of God. I want to know you as you desire to be made known. And so God let your Word speak to me, to the heart of who you are. So that I can understand that in worship, in the clarity of what that is.
And so together we’ve looked at that. And we saw the pronouncement of Mark 1. In fact, I just laid out Mark for us as we go on through the series, this is the fourth week.
But Mark has divided really in two parts. The first eight chapters are Jesus demonstrating to us the beauty of his kingdom and what it represents. In the last eight chapters, it’s really calling us to give our lives to it. Exchanging his life for ours. As he’s died for us, we give our lives for him. And as we give our lives for him, we died to self to live to him. But really what we find in life is that when we live for Christ, we really, in dying the self, we really live for the very reason we were created.
God designed us for his purpose. Finding our identity in him gives us meaning and purpose and value in everything that we do in life. And so dying to self becomes significant and that called in Christ in chapter eight is highly important to us. And so leading up to that chapter, it’s very important we discover who Jesus is because of the commitment he’s going to call us to.
In the first 15 verses of Mark, he dives into that identity. In fact, he speaks to it in the first 15 verses in different forms by different individuals and the clarity of who he is. And in calling us to commit to that. And declaring that clarity, Mark says in the beginning, he is the Jesus Christ, the son of God. We looked at that title of what Jesus Christ means, the saving King, the Son of God. How that phrase was given to Caesar, and you were supposed to worship Caesar as a god. But to declare as someone other than Caesar, living in the flesh as the Son of God was treason against Rome, and it could get you killed. In fact, it did get many of the Christians killed.
And so Mark was making a very risky statement by declaring this about Jesus. John the Baptist saying about Jesus that he’s not even worthy to untie his his shoes or sandals. And when John is saying this about Jesus in verse seven of chapter one, he’s taking the position of a servant in a home, the lowest position of a servant in the home, cleaned people’s feet. And John is saying, I’m even beneath that in comparison to Jesus. And even the Father speaks at Jesus’s baptism to the identity of Jesus. And clarifying who that is in calling us to that commitment in Christ is what is being demonstrated here.
And I think it’s important just to acknowledge that really none of us are perfect theologically. When it comes to the Bible the reason we approached this and when it comes to worship, when we engage God, what our hearts desires should be is to know him more clearly and love him more dearly.
To know Jesus clearly and to love him deeply. And has the clarity of who he is becomes apparent to our lives, we just further commit ourselves to him. And that’s what this Christian life is about. To know him more and to draw near to him in life. And as we draw near to Jesus, we more greatly live for the purpose which God has called us in this world. Committing to that.
And then you see in Mark 1:15, Jesus finally opens his mouth and he gives the first declaration. And he talks about this kingdom. One of the things that we acknowledge about the kingdom is that in life there are all sorts of Kings claiming to have kingdoms. But in life we were created really for relationship to one King in that kingdom. And when God made us in the beginning, we had that relationship with the Lord. He creates Adam and Eve for the purpose of walking in relationship with God for all of eternity. And then sin enters the world. And that relationship with God is destroyed because of sin.
And God wars against sin. But God comes on a rescue mission for us. So his desires to connect us again back to that kingdom because of the sacrifice he pays for ours sin. That we could be reconciled to him and enjoy his presence for all of eternity. In fact, prophetically the Bible tells us in Isaiah, Jesus is the Prince of Peace. The what your soul longs for is peace. We see this in living out our lives, that there’s tension, there’s turmoil, there’s heartache, there’s pain.
Our soul craves for peace. When you experienced the death of someone that you love, your soul aches to such a degree that you don’t even have words for things like that. Just longing for peace. Jesus being called the Prince of peace comes in Mark 1:15 and he promises the coming of that kingdom. In fact, he says the kingdom of God is at hand. So the question in all of that is then if the kingdom is here, then why are things in turmoil? Why is there sin? Why is there destruction? Why is there heartache? Why is there no peace?
When he talks about the kingdom. When his kingdom comes, it’s not at this point, the declaration of perfection. In fact, we’re not going to see perfection, and we’re going to be in struggle until we see Jesus face to face and the culmination of the perfection of the kingdom arrives. And what we looked at together in Jesus declaring this kingdom is to see that his kingdom is bigger than the pain of this world. That no suffering will ever be in vain when it comes to Christ. That he rules and reigns over all of it and all of it will be reconciled in him. And we looked at it specifically in Mary. In fact we acknowledged that God’s kingdom is so big that even in our pain, his presence is there. Our God is there.
Jesus calls us to that, in him, that kingdom that he came to declare. And he’s identified in Mark, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He’s identified by John the Baptist, make straight your paths. Here comes the King. Unworthy to untie his shoe laces. He’s identified in the Father. This is my beloved son in whom I’m well pleased, we should be talked about as a proclamation of a kingship position.
And then finally in Mark 2, Jesus identifies himself. And this becomes very important because the identity of all that we are as a church, we say we’re all about Jesus. And so the identity of all that we are is wrapped up in who Jesus says he is. And we’ve talked about how Jesus wouldn’t take for himself the title of Messiah by self proclamation. Other people declared him to be the Messiah, but Jesus wouldn’t take that title on himself.
And the reason Jesus didn’t assert himself as the Messiah is because there were so many misconceptions during his day about what the Messiah would represent. And rather than just dump into that mess, Jesus created this other imagery of who he was from scripture. And Jesus identifies himself. And so if our desire is to know him as he desires to make himself known, this becomes significant to our lives to see how Christ chooses to express himself. In Mark 2:10, and Mark 2:28, Jesus uses these verses in the midst of these stories that he shares to show his identity and how his identity matters in relationship to people.
And so this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to look at truthfully at just the identity of Jesus. Then we’re going to see how this correlates to the stories. And then we’re going to talk why in the world that matters for us. Why is that even a big deal? But understanding who Jesus is as he makes himself known is important. And Jesus uses this phrase in Mark 2:10, the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. The title Jesus desires to use for himself is this phrase, Son of Man. It’s used 84 times in the New Testament, over 80 times in the gospels. And most of the time that phrase is stated, it’s Jesus identifying himself.
Jesus uses this title for himself more than any other title he uses in all of scripture, Son of Man. What is it Jesus wants us to know? When we talked about the importance of keshers, as we’ve looked at Mark. It’s significant to understand when you read scripture that it was originally written to a specific people group at a specific place in time. And before we can begin to interpret what it means for us today, we must first understand what it meant to the original audience it was written too. Because if you don’t understand what it meant in the original context, then we’re going to pervert it and skew it and our present day understanding.
And so this phrase, Son of Man had significant meaning to the Jewish mind. In fact, we’ve used this term as keshers to help us grab the thought that’s being expressed in scripture. When you looked at the first chapter, we saw quotes to the Old Testament. They were keshers. When you look at this phrase in Mark 3, Son of Man, it’s a kesher.
What in the world is a kesher? If you’re just jumping in, you should not know what a kesher is, but let me explain. When you were a Jew, you memorize scripture. You knew the Old Testament. They didn’t have chapter and verse divisions like we have today. That was added 12th century, 15th century. That came much later. What it does for us in our Bible studies as we gather together as a church to know God, is it gives us an address. Like you live in a home. If you want someone to know where you are, you give them their address, they find the location. I say to you today, turn to Mark 2, you find the address. You have the location.
Well, the Jews didn’t have that. But what they did do was memorize scripture. And when someone wanted to elude to a particular passage of the Bible because they had it memorized, someone would just recite a phrase or a part of a quote and in their mind that would create this imagery represented. They would already associate it with significant passages of scripture as to what that meant. The same is true with the phrase Son of Man.
Jesus uses this phrase as a reference to the Jewish mind for them to gather an identity of who Jesus is. That’s what a kesher represents. It’s the string of pearls. It’s the building of this theology. What we’re going to notice as we read, we’re going to look at these two significant passages that Jesus is drawing too. And what we’re going to read about this story of what the son of man is, is a poetic description of who Jesus is. And that’s important to understand for a Jewish mentality too. Because in our culture we learn more in the Roman type system.
And if someone comes to you and says, what’s God like? We would typically respond with what God is. We’d say God is and we would give the attributes. God is love. God is mercy. God is just. God is all powerful. God is all knowing. And then we would describe the characteristics of God. We would declare those. In the Jewish mentality it would be a little different.
They wouldn’t just say God is. Rather they say God is like. Then they would create this beautiful poetic expression. God is like living water, streams that never ends. God, it’s like a mountain roaring with thunder. God is like a, scripture talks about a mother hen gathers her chicks. God is this poetic, beautiful illustration in the Hebrew mind.
When you read about the Son of Man, the same is true. In fact, in Ezekiel 34. This whole passage of 34 talks about this declaration of the Son of Man. I’ve just given you a few verses out of this entire chapter that expresses exactly what the Son of Man represents. But this is what it says, son of man prophesy against the shepherds and the leaders of Israel. So this is an indictment against Israel’s leaders. So my sheep had been scattered without a shepherd and they are easy prey for any wild animal. But it says, I will find my sheep and rescue them. So I will rescue my flock and they will no longer be abused. I will judge between one animal or the flock and another, and I will set over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will feed them and be a shepherd to them. And I the Lord will be their God and my servant David will be a Prince among my people.
The indictment against Israel is they’re not shepherding the way God calls them to shepherd. He would ultimately send a shepherd. And in fact, Jesus connects himself to this as the Son of Man in John chapter 10. He calls himself the Good Shepherd. You know, one of the greatest gifts anyone could ever give that ever orates from this pulpit is to always acknowledge, whoever teaches, just representing an under shepherd. That our pursuit in life is always the Great Shepherd, the Good Shepherd. It’s Jesus. Everyone else will fall short.
And so Jesus is acknowledging that he himself is the shepherd and what makes himself such a good shepherd is the way that he teaches us about his leadership here. A boss or ruler or just someone that sits over you and he declares to you what you need to do. But a good shepherd is a leader. He gets with his people. He knows his people. He demonstrates by example for his people.
He is that good shepherd, the Son of Man. But on top of that, at the end of this, it acknowledges something about it. The throne of David, one of Israel’s kingship, the greatest King in the history of Israel. But here’s the interesting thing about this statement in Ezekiel 34. King David’s been dead for over 200 years. What it is acknowledging for us about Jesus is, one, the type of leader he will be. But in addition to that, that he’s also king. What it’s saying about this kingdom is that it does not end. He’s going to shepherd his people.
In fact, if you see the same phrase in Daniel 7, then probably the most famous section of scripture where the Son of Man is use comes in Daniel 7:13 and again, Hebrew mind poetically displaying God. They answer the question, what is he like? And it says in Daniel 7:13, behold with the clouds of heaven, there came one like a Son of Man.
And this imagery would be important to the Jewish mind because the clouds are associated with God. It’s authority, it’s power, it’s deity. When you read about clouds in the Old Testament, God is there. And here in this passage you’re reading about this cloud and cloaking the Son of Man. And then it talks about this relationship with another deity or this form of God in the triunity of God. The father and Son, it says, behold with the clouds of heaven, there came one like a Son of Man, and he came to the ancient of days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, talking about the Son of Man. He’s given this authority. He’s given a dominion and glory and the kingdom.
Glory only belongs to God. And you see the Son of Man having this. And it says that all the peoples, nations and languages should serve him. And that word for serve as significant in the Old Testament. In our language today we have this word that we call worship. And in our language we only have one word for worship. It’s worship. But in the Old Testament they had a few words for worship and one of those was serve.
So what it’s saying in this passage is that all the people, all the nations, all the languages are worshiping the Son of Man. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away. And his kingdom, one that shall not be destroyed. So it’s declaring the preeminence of the kingdom that this Davidic King would represent in concern for his people. This saving King coming to rescue the sheep. Whose kingdom would be everlasting, whose kingdom would be above all other kingdoms, who would be worshiped by the people. Coming in the clouds.
Some of us may look at this passage and say, as it relates to the ancient of days. Well the ancient of days is really the premiere God and the Son of Man is sort of this under God given authority. But when you just think about the ancient of days as it relates to the rest of scripture. In Daniel 7:9, just a little bit before this section, it refers to the ancient of days, as I looked thrones were placed and the ancient of days took his seat. His clothing was white as snow. And the hair of his head like pure wool.
This idea of white is one of purity and it represents one of wisdom. In fact, at the end of Ecclesiastes, it associates in chapter 12 of Ecclesiastes, it associates wisdom with gray hair. And what it’s saying about the Lord in this passage is that his hair is really, really white. And so when it comes to wisdom, it’s the ultimate form of wisdom.
So this ancient of days, he’s pure and he’s wise, and his throne was fiery flames. And you see this holiness and you see this power and you see this authority. It’s wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him. I mean that is my God, right power, wisdom, authority, purity, all of that described in God. This ancient of days. Beautiful picture. And then it says this in Revelation 1:13, which is talking about Jesus. It says in verse 13 one like the Son of Man. But look at this, the hairs of his head were white like white wool, like snow.
His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace and his face was like that of the sun shining at full strength. And he’s called the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Another word for that? Ancient of days. The same characteristics described to the ancient of days in Daniel is ascribed to Jesus in the new Testament as the Son of Man. What’s it saying? He’s God.
Now you consider the culmination of everything we just said in this passage. This is where we’re just connecting our minds to this so that our heart can embrace it. The Son of Man has to do with humanity. It’s a phrase of humanity. Son of Man, that phrase “man” in Hebrew is directly connected to the word Adam. And when Adams used in the Bible, it either refers to Adam specifically or it refers to Adam holistically as a representation of all of humanity.
So when Jesus takes this phrase, Son of Man, it’s this representation in humanity as the representation of all of humanity. So when Jesus comes to pay the price for our sins, his death on the cross is the payment for humanity as we trust in him. This Son of Man comes in flesh to die for us as the representation for all of us. So we trust in him. So Son of Man, very much speaking to humanity.
But at the same time when you read these passages in Daniel 7. When you read the passage in Ezekiel 34. The attributes ascribed to the Son of Man are that of deity. And so what it’s saying in this phrase that Jesus is giving us is the fullness of God in humanity as he dwelt among us as deity, God becoming flesh for his sheep. And it’s on the backdrop of this identity that he then shares the stories of his kingdom because his identity has everything to do with the authority that he declares and the trust that you can place in him.
So what we see about his kingdom, we started with last week. It begins, we saw in Mark chapter one he goes before this leper in verse 40. We start to see unfolding about this kingdom that Jesus represents, that he declared in chapter one verse 15 is that his kingdom reaches the untouchables and it touches the unreachable. Remember in chapter one, verse 40 he comes to this leper.
A leper according to the culture and customs of that time had to walk in society and constantly say to people that he was unclean. So if you move through the crowd of individuals, he would always have to say out loud, “I’m unclean, I’m unclean,” so the crowds would have to move away. He was lonely and isolated. And he comes to Jesus and asked the question, Lord, are you willing to forgive? Not are you able, but are you willing? It’s a question of love. God, no one else cares for me. God, I’m by myself. But what about your Kingdom? How far does it go? Are you willing to love me? And we see how he reaches out and touches the leper.
And then it tells us in Mark 2:5-7, it’s the story of the paralytic. The story tells us that Jesus is in a home, he’s teaching. It’s so crowded that these friends come with their friend that’s a paralytic and they can’t get them into Jesus. And so they end up on the roof of this house and they dig a hole in the roof and they lower this individual down just to have this encounter with Jesus.
The story tells us in verse five and Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, son, your sins are forgiven. Some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in our hearts. Why does this man speak this way? He is blasphemed. Who can forgive sins but God alone? I want to talk about that forgiveness in a minute. But what Jesus is doing in the lives of people in the representation of his kingdom is this paradigm shift.
Because they in their minds think that the kingdom of God is only for those that make themselves lovable. God I’ve just demonstrated to you how good I am, therefore you must choose to love me. I am that good. What Jesus is showing is that he didn’t come to this world for the religious. In fact, the religious had the hardest time with Jesus. Because they can’t see their need for how desperate they are for Jesus. Jesus is going to give this illustration a minute that the people he came for are the ones that are broke. He comes for the leper that’s lonely.
We’re going to see in this next story that Jesus goes to a tax collector, which people did not like. I ain’t loving the IRS. We do. Well the person, maybe not always the job. But we love everyone here. But Jesus in this story that then comes to the paralytic. And this is what scholars acknowledge about this paralytic, is they believe that the reason he’s a paralytic is because of something that he had done that was sinful. Meaning something in his life he did that he wasn’t supposed to do that led to him being paralyzed. And the reason scholars think that is, one, it fits in between the stories of two individuals that are walking the same sort of path of life. But Jesus says to this paralytic rather than just heal him, he starts off with this: your sins are forgiven. God speaks to his heart before he physically changes his life.
If this man had done something wrong in his life that for some reason led to him being paralyzed, the question that he would always wonder as he walked around is, that’s good, I’m glad I’m physically fine, but what about my heart? Does God really loves me? Does God really forgive me? But before Jesus spoke about his body, he talked to his heart.
Can I tell you, to everyone present here this morning? The most important thing today is what God desires to speak to your heart. Where it’s hardened. Where it wars against him. Where it fights for its own kingdom apart from the Lord. What God wants out of everything, it’s not the programs. It’s not that you went to church and he did got a favor. He doesn’t need you. But he wants you. Speak to your heart and in this story he does this to the paralytic and he says, your sins are forgiven.
I want to be honest. Every Sunday I want to say this, but out of fear, it just getting mundane and boring I don’t. But you know the thing that marks Christianity unique from everything else in the world, every other belief system in the world. The thing that marks us unique is forgiveness. All other religions in this world are all about working, working, working. Demonstrating to God that you’re worthy. But here’s the problem when it comes to understanding Biblical theology, who Jesus is, what he came to accomplish, is that works don’t work.
Now, let me tell you why. It’s because the problem that you have isn’t your ability to work or not work. The problem that you have is that you need reconciled to God. And the only way that’s ever going to happen is forgiveness. You can work all day long and never be forgiven.
The illustration works like this in our lives. If someone has wronged you and I go to that person and say, don’t worry about it, you’ve been forgiven. That doesn’t make a difference. It doesn’t matter. That relationship is never going to be reconciled until the one who’s been wronged forgives the one who’s wronged them. All day long I can tell you, you know you’ve been forgiven from God. Or you can work and work and work and work, but none of that will ever matter until you’ve been forgiven by Christ. Why? Because the preeminent thing that God has called you to in him, it’s relationship.
Religions are about works. Christianity is about relationship. In order for relationships to work, there has to be forgiveness. At some point, the people you’re close to in life, you’re gonna offend them. And the only way that relationship ever moves forward is learning to have a reconciliation and forgiveness with one another and walking in that together. And the same is true with Jesus.
Think about this for just a moment. Jesus died. Jesus died. He came from heaven. He was King on a throne. He came from the perfect place and he came as a servant. He didn’t have to do that. He didn’t need to do that, and he died. Now, why in the world would someone ever do such a thing? Why would God become flesh and do something like that? Because your need was so drastic. Works weren’t gonna work. You need reconciled. You needed forgiveness.
Until you recognize how desperate you are apart from Jesus, you’re never going to see your need for Jesus. That’s what Jesus is going to look at these religious leaders we’ll see in a minute and he’s going to tell them, I didn’t come for those that thought they are healthy. I came for the sick, the most difficult people to reach, the hardest people to reach other religiously astute who see they have no need for Jesus in their lives. That’s what Jesus, when he comes declaring this kingdom, he’s not going to the religious people. He’s going to those that see their need. We all need reconciliation. We all need his forgiveness.
And Jesus is teaching us in the life of this paralytic in this story, how significant forgiveness becomes and how this is unique in Christianity above all else. Because what we’re called to in this world is relationship with God and what his kingdom brings for us is forgiveness with him, that we could walk in that relationship. And then it says in verse seven they teach us this important thing, who can forgive sins but God alone? So I said to you, if someone has offended you and I forgive them, that doesn’t matter. That does not matter. You have to forgive them to reconcile that relationship. And if someone’s done something against God, and I tell you, you have been forgiven, that does not matter. God has got to forgive you. God forgives you.
And now Jesus steps into this situation and he says, your sins are forgiven. The Pharisees are already acknowledging something in this story. Who can forgive sins against God, except for God alone. Jesus came to forgive, and Jesus can do that because Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus reconciles you.
Son of Man and his humanity proclaiming his deity. It says this in verse eight, immediately, Jesus aware in the spirit that they were reasoning that within themselves and said to them, why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? I love this. The Pharisees are like, who does he think he is? They are looking at Jesus, looking down on Jesus, not liking this Jesus character. It’s about religion. We need to work these people to death. And then Jesus is like your forgive and they’re like, Whoa, there’s like a 50,000 list that they’ve got to accomplish here before maybe God would even accept them.
They didn’t even have to say it out loud. They were reasoning in their hearts. And then Jesus because he’s God knows what they’re thinking in their hearts. I love that about church, like when we gather together as God’s community, we open up God’s word after the service I often hear this, people say. Man, how did you know I needed to hear that today? It’s like you spoke right to me. No, we opened up God’s word and this is what God knows. We’re all sinners and this applies to everybody, man. Jesus knows what’s in our hearts. And Jesus is speaking to their hearts and why are you reasoning these things in your hearts?
And he says in verse nine, which is easier to say to the paralytic, your sins are forgiven or to say, get up and pick up your pallet and walk? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins. I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home. Jesus physically demonstrating what he is declaring spiritually. His kingdom loves the unlovable. Touches the untouchables. Reaches the unreachable.
And then it goes on from this story. In verse 14, and Jesus passed by and he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus in case you know you care who he is. Oh yeah, cool. Sitting in the tax booth and he said to him, follow me. And he got up and followed him. What Jesus is doing in this story, this is just like, yeah, I’ve already offended the Pharisees, let’s just shock them all together.
It’s like asking the question, okay, community of people: who do you hate more than anybody? And they’re say, the tax collector. They would have been like if there’s anyone that’s the furthest from God ever, he’s worse than a sinner, he’s a tax collector. And the tax collector during this time, the Jewish community, they were all about their individuality in God’s people. And the tax collector was one that sided with Rome. So he’s a Jew and the Jewish community turns his back on his people, goes to Rome, I’m going to tax my own people and send you the money. How about it? And so the Jews did not like them. They’d walk on the other street, they’d spit on the ground and they pass on this guy. He did not have friends. And the friends that he typically had were not maybe the best company that you would want to impress your mama with when you brought him over.
In fact, it says this in verse 15 check this out. It says, and it happened that he was reclining at the table in his house. So Jesus is hanging out with Levi, and many tax collectors and sinner were dining with Jesus and his disciples. For their many of them, and they were following him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, why is he eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners? It’s like they’re saying, well, I can kinda understand sinners, but tax collectors?
Sinners are bad enough, but it’s tax collectors and sinners. Jesus is acknowledging this guy’s company, it’s not that religiously impressive. What Jesus is acknowledging in this story, is the point of his kingdom. Making all things new. To wreck us in his grace. To show us what life in him is all about.
One of the things I love about Matthew, in the book of Luke it says this about him, and he left everything behind and got up and began to follow Jesus. In Mark it just tells us he followed Jesus. But it looks like, no, no, let’s just elaborate on this a little bit more. He gave up everything.
We talked about what it means to declare that Jesus is the son of God. Caesar was son of God. You worship Caesar. And the other gods that they believed in that were in the heavens in Roman theology. But the declaration that Jesus was God, you’d lose in that scenario, maybe your life. In fact, Paul gets his head cut off for that reason. But what Mark is acknowledging about Matthew, and if you were a political leader during this time, you had to declare your loyalty to Caesar and declare them to be son of God. But if you stop declaring him to be son of God, declared Jesus, son of God, you could no longer hold your political position and maybe you got to stay alive, but you can no longer hold that position. And Matthew or Levi representing this tax position for Rome, when he acknowledges who Jesus is and he pursues after him with his life. He abandons everything.
You ever been there in that, in your life where you’re like, what am I doing? I cannot figure out a purpose, meaning, I don’t even know why I’m getting up and doing what I’m doing. I mean I need something worth living for. And then Jesus walks by him in Matthew’s life and he hears the pronouncement of his kingdom and he’s like, yeah, that’s it man. That is what I need from my life. And he just gets up and he pursues after him. The story is just told in a story after story form of exactly who Jesus came and why he’s transformed his life. And the Pharisees come before Jesus and they questioned again and they’re like, why are you here? Why are you loving these people? And he gives these illustrations. He says in verse 17, I’m a physician. I didn’t come for those that didn’t think that they needed a doctor. In fact, your hearts too hard for Jesus. And let me just say this morning if, if you can’t recognize your need for Jesus, may God have mercy on our souls.
He says to the Pharisees, I’m a doctor. I came as a physician to heal. I’m the bridegroom. Not only just to shock you, not only do I want to be with Matthew, but you think about the relationship. Husband and wife, there is no more intimate relationship. So he’s saying, not only do I want to be at this guy’s house. I want to be as intimate relationship with Matthew as possible. I love him that deeply.
And then he compares it to new wine skins and new wine. Making all things new. It’s not in us. It’s not in our power. Everything new in Jesus. Jesus makes us new. Jesus transforms us. Jesus loves us right where we are. You look at these stories. That’s what it’s saying. The paralytic, the leper. The leper no one loved. The paralytic. everyone would looked at and said he got what he deserved. He’s like that because of the sin that he did. Or you look at Matthew, he doesn’t deserve any friends. He’s a tax collector. Jesus loves them right where they are and he also loves him too much to leave him that way.
So these stories are just connecting so we can see exactly what this kingdom is about so that we don’t miss it. Now, let me just give you a few reasons why I want to relate this to a text and I’m just going to tell you why. Why all this matters. But you see Jesus building to this in Mark 3:5, talking about the religious leaders, and he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart. Do you not see how important this is?
Have you ever been there in life where like you’re trying to tell someone they want some advice and you’re trying to get an advice and you know that this is going to work in their lives, if they just listened. And then they just don’t listen? You’re thinking, man, would God forgive a smack across the head for just a second. There’s something not connecting here. You need to hear this. That’s what I’m saying about Jesus. How are you not seeing how important this is? He’s grieved in his heart. He’s just demonstrated it. He’s demonstrated that throughout these chapters.
And then in verse 13 he acknowledges another group. Jesus went up on the mountain and called to those who he desired and they came to him. Really, you are for his kingdom or against his kingdom. And any kingdom that’s contrary to God’s kingdom, is gonna ultimately lose to the kingdom that will live for all of eternity. So Jesus is really brings us to this hinge point. He’s demonstrating this kingdom and he’s bringing us to this hinge point of recognizing who he is and worshiping him in that truth. To know him more truthfully and to love him more deeply.
Let me just draw these illustrations for us. I think first we can learn a lot about what’s taking place from the religious leaders. People so committed to the program and religion they just miss the simplicity of Jesus. Out of everything that’s important today. Everything that we do. It’s just for your heart to connect to Jesus and to allow that transforming hand of Christ in your life just to permeate throughout our community. We’re a tribe that belongs to him. Finds our identity in him, not in the things that we do. We just do the things because of who we are in him. So don’t miss the simplicity of Jesus because of the distraction around you.
Two, is the way Jesus makes everything new and how fearlessly that kingdom does that. When you think about our church, I just want to recognize God calls us to be Holy. God calls us to separate ourselves for him. To say holiness means out of everything we could belong to in life, we belong to him. But one thing that’s not going to happen within our church, or it shouldn’t happen, at least on this side of eternity, is we’re not going to be perfect.
In fact, honestly, I don’t want to belong to a community whose desires to be perfect, because this is what we’re going to have to do: we’re going to have to push people away. And that’s the exact opposite of his kingdom. Jesus didn’t run from the mess. He ran right into it. And so what you see mastered in Jesus’ life, the beautiful picture of Jesus his life is he did hold to the truth. He declared it unapologetically. He met people where they were and he loved them.
As a church community, if we’re doing what God calls us to do, we should always be messy. We should. We should find people in life and just love them as Jesus would love them and let the grace of God wreck their lives and to see how God transforms their lives. I want to forever be messy, but I always want to be clear too. I always want to be clear in the truth and holding the truth and being messy for Jesus.
In fact, the Bible tells us to do that. Jude contend for the faith in the book of Jude. Earnestly contend for the faith, hold the truth. And at the same time fearlessly run into the mess that is this world. Become all things to all people, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9. Meet people where they are. In a phrase that hopefully just sears our conscious, listen, pastor’s going to say this: we are going to love the hell out of people. And share the truth with them along the way. That’s what we do. That’s what Jesus is doing in this story. He loves you right where you are. And love you too much to leave you that way.
Let me just say this last point. In your walk with God, I think it’s as simple as this. Finding clarity in Christ and diving deeper in commitment to him. I’m not perfect theologically, no one is. But everyday I want to know Jesus a little more. And I want to dive deeper into commitment to him because when I see the goodness of who God is in my life, that is what I want to cling to. So Jesus, help me to know you more. And the truth of the matter is the reason we don’t do that, it’s because our hearts are callous and we’re not committed.
Let me give you an illustration. You don’t have to answer this out loud, but I want you to think about the stock market for a minute? Okay. Just answer it to yourself. Are you invested in the stock market? I’m not trying to tell you to invest in the stock market, but are you? If you are invested in the stock market, how much did you care about that stock market before you invested? Maybe you did to some degree. Maybe you just kind of loosely followed it because your desire was to one day invest in it. But I can make you a promise. You care way much about what happens with that stock market after you invested in it then before you belong to it.
Some of you are like addicted. Why? Because because you care. Because you invested and because you put something that belongs there. The same is true with the kingdom of God. If your heart is not connected, if you are not invested, you will not care. But the more you see the clarity of who Jesus is and the more you allow your heart to connect to that, the more you’re going to care about the way that kingdom works within his community and in this world.
Let me give you this one last example and I’ll be done. This morning you’re sitting in a chair. I want to recognize people in this church, we give. And some of us just give sacrificially and it’s a blessing. We’re thankful for all that. But truthfully, every one of us right now, this morning, sit in the chair that was given to us by someone else’s sacrifice. In fact, we were supposed to have a church from North Carolina visit us today, and one of the family members had a stroke and they canceled their trip. They’re going to come later in the year, but there’s a church in North Carolina that many of you may not even know that has given more financially for our church to exist than any other church in the United States. When we sit here this morning, not on our sacrifice, but ultimately on Jesus’ sacrifice in those like Matthew who committed themselves to who Christ is, as Christ as revealed themselves in their lives. You’re sitting on someone else’s sacrifice this morning.
Think about the beauty of that story? Because the church has been doing that for thousands of years. And what can transpire from us and the commitment that we see in who Christ is and giving our lives to that. Just look into beauty of this tax collector and see how Jesus expressed himself in saying, yeah, I believe. And just like Matthew, leaving it all on, pursuing him in that kingdom, making that kingdom about my life. From that this morning out of out of what comes from the sacrifice of others, then we have an opportunity to giving our lives to see how that continues to transpire for beyond us. From these walls beyond this location and to into future generations. Why? Because of our love for Jesus. And then let me just leave with this thought.
Truth is we’re not going to do this until we walk with Jesus. You cannot fake what you do not have. And you cannot impart what you do not possess. What Jesus desires for us in this passage, it’s to see the identity of who he is and how his kingdom desires to wreck our world with his grace.