*edited for readability*
Welcome. We’ve been walking through the book of Mark, so if you’d open up to Mark chapter two this morning. And if you’re new, if this is your first time; you’ve never been here before: My name is Dave. I’m the lead pastor and I’m so grateful you’re here. We love, love, love the word of God because it points us to the son of God. The son of God explains God the Father to us, and so we love looking at him together. This morning we’re going to be walking through Mark chapter two. And so let me read it to you. After I read it, we’ll just enjoy it together. It’s a beautiful text. Mark’s going to answer the question for us this week and next week: OK, if Jesus is King; if Jesus is altogether amazing; if His character is perfect; if His love is perfect; if crowds from all over are coming to see Jesus–how does He get crucified? Like, how does that happen?
Like, if you’ve got somebody who’s raising the dead, healing the sick, telling the paralytic to walk–How does that guy get crucified? Mark’s going to walk us through that this morning. And the answer is pretty horrifying.
Jesus gets crucified because of religious guys like me (who says), “No, I’m really… I’m really impressed with my own work, my own religiosity, my own righteousness. I don’t really need Jesus.”
And so this is really a warning for the church in America. It’s a gentle, tender warning, but it’s a warning nonetheless. Because I’ll tell you what: before I read the text, one of my favorite pastimes is judging people. I don’t even have to think about it. Like, my brain within two or three seconds will just judge. I’ll size up… It’s one of my favorite pastimes. It makes me sick to even tell you that. But I think that it’s this delicious morsel of the flesh that we all probably have. I’ll just fillet myself and say it’s one of my favorite things to do. If it’s yours, then this passage is for us to repent, humble ourselves-to find our identity, security, significance, and worth in Jesus Christ and not in our religion.
So let me read it to you. Chapter 2 Verse 13. God says Mark writes:
“and He (Jesus) went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them. 14 As he passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alpheus sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed him. 15 And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his (Levi’s) house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. 16 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?” 17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It’ is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” 18 John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they came and said to Him (Jesus), “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast, can they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. 22 No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
Now before we jump into this and just kind of fillet the Pharisee inside of me; the religious part of me–I want to give you a big theological perspective. So we can walk through this with understanding, really from the beginning of scriptures to the end. If you did a straight read through of the whole bible, got to the last page (1191 in my Bible), you’d walk away thinking, “okay God is all sufficient and self sufficient.”
He’s the only self-sufficient being there is. That is: God needs nothing from outside of himself. This is actually a huge point theologically: the aseity of God or the self-sufficiency of God. This is: there’s nothing I can bring to God that he doesn’t already have. He needs nothing from me today. He needs nothing. That puts him in a class and category all on his own. The small theological perspective is: you and I are created beings. If I don’t have a constant supply line from God, I dry up. We all very much need God. This is why when sins separated us from God, it really cut the supply line. That’s why you are currently actively dying. I don’t know if you know that. We’ll talk more about that at Easter. Right now your time clock is running out because your supply line from God has been broken.
Listen, the enemy doesn’t need to be very brilliant to ruin me. He only needs to cut my supply line. Just look at military logistics. The enemy knows if he can cut my supply line, I’m done for. See if I’m not getting grace: I can’t give grace. If I’m not getting forgiveness: I can’t give forgiveness. If I’m not praying and communing; if my comms are down with God: I’m on my own mission. All the enemy has to do is cut my supply line. Now I wish that were as bad as it could get.
Here’s what happens in the body of Christ when our supply line is cut. I wish the church would just say (“you know what, our supply line from God has been cut. We’re not getting grace, we’re not getting love, we’re not getting forgiveness — so we can’t give it. Let’s just shut the doors and close this church”). I wish that were the case. What happens in the church is: when our supply line is cut, we just turn religious. We focus on external things. We’re not getting grace; we’re not getting forgiveness; we’re not getting mercy; we’re not getting love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness (Galatians 5:22-23) because the supply line is cut. So we just turn to religion and we begin to devour one another.
That’s what Mark is going to walk us through today. Jesus came into His own and His own didn’t receive him. The very cats that should have welcomed Jesus and been like, (emphatic) “Yes Jesus is here!” were like, (bothered) “Jesus is here.” And by the end of this story next week, they’re saying “we need to kill him.” (Mark 3:6)
These are Jesus’ supposed friends… turn on him. Here’s the premise of what I’m going to talk about today. We’re going to see the King with a perfect supply line to the Father and how He treats sinners; how He treats broken people; how He even treats religious people. And then we’re going to see the religious people who’ve had their supply lines cut. We’re going to see how they view sinners; how they view everything around them. And we’re going to juxtapose it, and I’m going to challenge you: I’m going to ask, “Where is the the Pharisee in you that you can repent of?” As I repent of this religion that kills us. Watch how Mark plays this out. We’ll start out in verse 13 and 14, because he’s going to show us how Jesus sees people and how religious people see people. Watch this:
“and He [Jesus] went out again [verse 13] by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.
Watch this: This is gonna set a lot of people free this morning. I am so excited for you.
[verse 14] ‘As he [Jesus] passed by, He saw Levi (that’s a big deal) the son of Alpheus sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed him.”
First, let me set the scene, setting, scenario this way. I don’t know that I have to do a whole bunch of cultural work to get you to understand how hated Levi was. Let me do it this way though: “How many of you love the IRS?” No? (There.. there’s always a couple like: Yes! Anyone? OK.) See, April 15th is coming up and we all kind of grate because the IRS wants our money. It’s like (it’s our money, and they want it, and so I don’t like the IRS). Levi was even worse; he wasn’t just a member of the IRS per se. Levi was a Jew, who went ahead and partnered with one of the Herods; purchased the rights to collect taxes in this area. What they would do is: they would purchase it for a set amount and then they would overcharge and that’s where they would make their profit. Problem is Levi was a Jew who partnered with a pagan power to get money from his own people. So Levi was like…he would be the equivalent of a Taliban member in America.
Right? We look at them like “oh that’s disgusting. That’s horrible! You’re working for the enemy.” Exactly. Even worse for Levi because he would have been like a Taliban member with Ebola because you didn’t even want to be around him. Literally. Everything I read in history says tax collectors were the worst of the worst of the worst. They were the ones that you would look at and tell your children “you never want to end up like that, do you?” So there’s the scene, setting, scenario. You got Levi: he’s just a piece of dirt. You’ve got Jesus who comes along. And if you compare this (write down Luke Chapter 5 and Matthew Chapter 9)… if you compare this… this same story. I love Mark’s account, because it shows me the King with a perfect supply line to the Father. He doesn’t see disgusting, broken, messed up sinners who need to be cast aside.
Look what Jesus sees: “as He passed by, He saw…” (Mark 2: 14) This is different than the other accounts. The other accounts say he saw a tax collector right? Jesus didn’t. See, Jesus sees people. Religion sees sinners.
You check your own heart: When you see someone- what do you think? Do you first see their sign; their label; their title? What’s been given to them? You know we live in a world that just labels people, don’t you? If you don’t, I want you to think carefully about the labels and titles that have been given to you. See, oftentimes it’s mom and dad. Are you the smart one or are you the dumb one? The fast one; the slow one? The skinny one; the fat one? You the burden or are you the blessing? See oftentimes our families give us names and we put those names on. And then our peers give us names–we put those names on. If not, oftentimes in church we give labels, titles, and names. Are you the addict? You the alcoholic? You the loser? You the divorcée? You’ve had an abortion. (Oh my goodness Dave). We put these labels, these titles, these names on and we begin to see the world through those labels, titles, and names. And as the church, we often perpetuate that.
See this is what religion always has to do. Because they don’t receive love, joy, peace, patience: they can’t give it. We’ve got to give labels, names, and titles, so that we feel better than other people. What are you… what label do you carry? Honestly what name do you carry? When you’re alone and you think about what people think about you: what name is that?
Here’s what I love about Jesus Christ: He looks at people! He looks at Levi, the worst of the worst, and he doesn’t see a sinner. He sees a soul that needs to be saved. Totally different ball game. He says “Levi, come to me, because I want to give you a brand new name.” This is what the body of Christ; this is what the gospel; this is what Jesus Christ does. He gives us a new name. In a world that will title you, and label you, and smash you, and put you down. Jesus says, “No, come to me. Actually I want you to know you’re adopted into my family. (Eph 1:5) I love you.”
“Dave I want you to know you’re accepted by the Father because of what… The world may reject you and put the title, the name, the label, the sign on you: reject. But you’re accepted! You have access to the Father (Eph 2:18). I want you to know: You’re wanted; You’re born of God (1 John 3:1); You’re beloved (Rom 1:7); You’re blessed; You’re a citizen of Heaven (Phil 3:20); A child of God (1 John 3:1); You’re complete in Christ! (Col 2:10)” What name do you wear? What name do you hold onto? What name do you allow to define you? You see, Jesus wants to take that and give you a brand new name.
And I’ll tell you what – this is what the whole story of the scriptures are about. You reach the end and Revelation and He gives us a new name; for all eternity. He sees us for who we are. He calls us by name and changes everything. He does what religion can never do. You see Hillside, I want to be very careful. We have people that come in that are broken, that are hurting, that are weak. We want to be very careful that we don’t put those names, those titles, those labels; but we actually point them to the one who gives them a brand new name. Well watch where Jesus goes on from here – because religions see sinners; Jesus sees souls that need to be saved. Watch verse 15 and 16. This gets hilarious. I want you to clear your mind of really ever having read this story before. Go with me on a little journey. Watch verse 15 and 16:
15 And it happened that He [verse 16, Jesus] was reclining at the table in his [Levi’s] house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them [that is tax collectors and sinners] and they [tax collectors and sinners] were following Him. [Jesus]
So just take verse 15. I don’t know how long it’s been. It may have been a day; it may have been a week. Levi starts following Jesus. Jesus gives him a new name, new direction, new passion. Levi becomes an amazing missionary. Very quickly! He takes his house, his money, and he throws a party for all his tax collector and prostitute buddies. And they all get together and guess who shows up? Jesus does! Right there. Well watch what happens here.
16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples…”
So they totally triangulate. They don’t want to talk to Jesus. Because He totally smacks them down. He’s way too smart. So they go to his disciples and they complain.
“Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?”
You see Jesus sees souls that need to be saved and what he actually does–this is a big part of Jesus’ ministry–is He seeks us. (Ezekiel 34:11)
Do you know that? He actually seeks after you. The story of your life is not: “I was really smart and I was out looking for Jesus. And praise God I found him, because he was lost, and he needed my help to find him.” That’s not anybody’s story here.
We don’t get together as the Phi Beta Kappa of humanity. (I was so smart: I went and found God. He was out somewhere and..). That’s nobody’s story. Jesus came to seek us. Jesus entered into our brokenness. Jesus finds us. Religious people, because their supply line is cut off: they don’t have love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness. They don’t want to seek after sinners. What religion actually does is shun sinners. You know that? Religion is the self-appointed shunners. They decide who the shun-ees are, and they get to shun the people they’ve decided are worth shunning. So they’re the shunners. They totally got Dwight Schrute disease. Religious people always think that they’re the assistant… assistant regional manager. They’re very… have you ever watched The Office? Anyone? (Okay. There’s enough to go. Jim, no? Honestly? A little?)
You only have to watch it once to get what I’m talking about here. Dwight Schrute thinks he’s the assistant regional manager. They constantly have to remind him, “no, you can be assistant to the regional manager.” He’s like (Same thing).
No it’s not! Religion makes people very self-important. So we look at people and are like (“I get to shun you. No you can’t talk back. I’m the shunner. I’m very important. Can’t you tell? On the outside, I’m very clean. I’m very put together; so I’ve decided to shun you. I can unshun you, but you can’t unshun yourself.”) That’s what religion does. So they come. Now watch this. This is hilarious. Jesus is loving, and serving, and caring for people. Go back to verse 15. The religious people are totally spying on him. Is that not super duper weird to anybody else? They had the same Bible that Jesus had. This would not have been loving your neighbor. This would not have been fulfilling the law. They were totally sinning! Spying on Jesus: trying to get a picture so they could put it on Instagram–of Jesus drinking and eating with sinners.
See this is what religion does: you justify yourself, and you use the Bible as binoculars to mess with other people–while you won’t apply it to yourself as a mirror. Hillside, this is such a disease. You see, once that supply line has been cut and you’re not getting the grace you need each day for the trial at hand: you will convince yourself that you’re still worshipping and serving God. So you’ll still come to the Bible. But because you aren’t getting grace and your supply line is cut: you will use the Bible not on yourself, you’ll use it on other people. You weaponize it! You’ll use it against your spouse. And Pharisee-ism happens so subtly, we don’t even realize it. It just creeps up on us. And before you know it, you’re using the Bible as binoculars to find other people’s faults, flaws, and failures. And you point them out and then you shun them because you think you’re very self-important. Jesus doesn’t. He seeks sinners and goes and sits down with them. At this point in the story of Mark, it becomes very clear that Jesus is going to get crucified just for hanging out and loving the wrong kind of people. Watch where Mark takes it from here. Verse 17 it’s so….it’s so simple…. it’s so beautiful.
Jesus’ responses are brilliant and simple. Watch what he says: (verse 17) And hearing this, (that they asked, “why are you eating with tax collectors and sinners?”) Jesus said to them, “It’ is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Is that…. is that new information to anyone? Is that like, “oh my goodness, you’re right! Healthy people don’t go see a doctor. I’ve got this in my doctor service. I’ve got doctors.” I doubt that any person ever showed up and is like “Brandon cut me open, just for fun. (Well what’s hurting?) Nothing. I just wanted to come see a doctor because I’m bored. Will you cut me open and do abdominal surgery?” That doesn’t happen right? Jesus speaks to the obvious. He speaks the obvious and he’s sympathizing. He says, “it’s not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. (Mark 2:17) Therefore I came to seek, and to save, to serve those who are sick.” Here’s where Pharisee-ism…. here’s where religion… just… Let me take it this way: I have seen in my experience that dudes don’t like to go to the doctor. How many else have seen that? (Honestly. OK. It’s not just me.) That makes me feel better about me. See I can be totally sick. I can be close to death. My wife would be like “you should probably go see the doctor. I’m like (NO I’ll be fine).
This is a true story. You can check it. You can report on it. I had a growth on my forehead. It got bigger and bigger. It was under the skin. It looked like I was growing a horn on my forehead, which is very problematic for a pastor. (Chris – like an accountant grows a horn it’s like yeah… yeah… right?) Pastor grows a horn, and it’s like (sweetie we might want to look at going back to the Presbyterian Church). Brooke was like, “Dave you got to get that checked.” (No I’m fine. What could go wrong?) Right? It got bigger. I got headaches. I couldn’t function. I’d pull over to the side of the road. I was losing my vision and stuff. Finally I go in and the dude is like “that’s an aneurysm on your temporal artery bro. We’ve got to do surgery.” Right then, took took me in. The point is: dudes don’t like to go to doctors because they’re very, very religious. We think we’re fine. Religion totally blinds us…..totally blinds us to the fact that we are not well.
Jesus tells a joke here, because he’s telling these religious cats, “hey, I didn’t come for the healthy. I only came for the sick.” (Mark 2:17) That’s a joke because everyone is sick… there’s none righteous. No not one. There’s none who seeks after God. There’s none who does righteous. They would have known Psalm 14. They would have known all about that. They would have had it memorized. And Jesus is totally saying, “hey, you guys are sick too. Come to me. I love you. I’ll forgive you, I’ll serve you.”
But religion blinds us to the reality of our need for grace. Religion totally blinds us to the reality. So Jesus said, “I didn’t come for those who are well”. And I bet in our religious minds we’re like, “yeah and I’m well — I don’t need help.” Here’s the point here: God loves to give grace to the humble. God loves to give grace to the humble. (James 4:6) Did you know that? If you’ll humble yourself today- I don’t care what your struggle is; I don’t care what your burden is; I don’t care what your sin pattern is. If you go to Jesus and say “I’m sick”; He says, “Awesome! That’s what I came for. I totally came to help people who are sick. Thanks for humbling yourself.”
This is the message of the scriptures to us: Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He might lift you up. (1 Peter 5:6)
God loves to give grace to the humble but He’s actually opposed to what? The proud. He can’t give grace to the proud. See this is the amazing thing about religion. It dresses up the outside and says I’m okay. But in that pride, it cuts off the supply line, and it can’t get the grace that it needs every day for the struggle and trial at hand.
Verse 18, 19, 20, and 21. Now watch this: 18 John’s disciples (this is John the baptizer) and the Pharisees were fasting; Interesting twist of narrative here. So John’s disciples: great guys that are fasting; the Pharisees disciples: they’re fasting.…and they came (to Jesus) and said to Him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, (Jesus) but Your disciples do not fast?” (“You’re not….You’re not keeping the rules. We set…we set the rules… we set the guidelines”).
See God had made it very simple. He put one fast in place: Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement. All the nation of Israel was to fast- the Pharisees: they upped it. They said “hey, if one fast is good, let’s do it twice a week. Once a year? If God likes once a year–dude how much…how much more would you like? Twice a week?” So they totally upped their game because this is what religion does. It adds a whole bunch of rules to what God said is good. They’ll say, “well if that’s good, we’re going to do better.” And then Jesus comes and they’re like, “Hey Jesus, you’re not keeping our rules. Like we made up the rules for the playground and you’re not keeping them.”
19 And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast, can they?” It’s a true question. The Pharisees would have known by the law they were set free from fasting during this wedding feast. “So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.”
Watch 20, 21, and 22:
20 But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. 22 No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
Now this … this gets lost… every time I read through that, this gets lost in our culture. Anybody sew patches on jeans or clothes anymore? Honestly, I do, but I’m weird like that. (One two three four. Thank you. Thank you for your honesty. No one saw, you’re safe. Isn’t that what they say in the ….anyway). And how many… even…. when…. those of us who do make wine, you don’t use wine skins anymore. We have bottles, we have corks, we don’t do this. Let me cast this in a different light. How many of you had a Commodore 64 when it came out? Honestly? You know what the Commodore 64 is? Listen, first service so… aren’t…. ok Commodore 128? Atari anybody? Okay, this is my Atari crowd. Awesome! Awesome! Then I’ll totally change… last group: a lot older than you guys. They knew Commodore 64. But I’ll rock the Atari. 80s: the Atari comes out. Let me put this into the 80s theme. This is Jesus saying, “hey you can’t take your Atari and take a new Intel Pentium processor and put it in the Atari. The Atari totally can’t rock the Pentium processor. It’s going to fry both down. They’re not going to work.”
Here’s what Jesus is saying. Jesus is very excited about where he is going. He’s going to make a new heavens and a new earth. He’s going to change everything. He’s going to make a declaration that there will no longer be any death, nor mourning, nor crying, nor pain. He’s made all things new. (Revelation 21) Jesus is excited about moving all of history towards that point. He actually invites us to be part of that, as He uses the church to change communities, and culture, and country. He’s very excited about moving forward and changing lives; changing marriages. Religion doesn’t like that. Religion tries to drive out of the rear view mirror. Anybody ever tried to drive, down 281… anyone by looking in your rearview mirror? OK try it on the way home, but not for very long. And that will be a picture of religion. Religion always looks back and says “Aw, the good old days.” I hear this every week y’all. (Well I just like the good old days.. back when.. when things were simple, and church was simple. The good old days when things were really good). And I like to ask people, “What year are you talking about?” (You know the 50s and 60s). “Oh like, during Jim Crow and Vietnam? Like, those are the good old days that we talk about? When the nation was torn apart? Huge trauma and no healing from trauma. Those are the good days?” (Well the church got together and I liked the songs we sang). Well yeah, because we totally isolated from a world that was falling apart. It wasn’t that long ago that Vietnam had ripped our nation apart. When Jim Crow laws were still being enforced because of pigment of skin color: we…we were told we couldn’t eat with certain people and they couldn’t eat with us. Isn’t that horrific? “Those are the good days ahh?” (Well no I’m talking about the 70s). “Oh really? OK.” When the sexual era..listen I’ve seen videotapes and I’ve read about the 60s and 70s. The sexual revolution. I saw what you all did at Woodstock. It’s not a secret. And those seeds that were planted then have actually come to fruition. You’re talking about the 70s: Roe v. Wade- 73/74. When we’re like, “you know what. Yes we want to be able to do whatever we want, whenever we want to do it.” And then we had to do away with the infants, the child, the children that were being born. So we… we okayed abortion. “Those are the good days that you’re talking about?”
See this is what religion does: it looks back and says (it was so good). No, it actually wasn’t ya’ll. But this is where religion gets stuck. Jesus says, “Come with me. Let’s go to the Promised Land. That’s where I’m leading you. Where the church, the body of Christ– under the word of God, infused by the the power of the Spirit of God– really does change everything. That we engage culture. That we actually love, and serve, and care for broken, hurting, weak people. Where the church doesn’t isolate, separate, and alienate.”
Let me walk you through what Jesus just said. What religion always does – it will take a a minor thing, it will make it a major thing, and it will lose the main thing –every time. I face it every week so I’m going to walk you through it. Religion that looks back at the past and says the past was great. Religion will make a major thing out of a minor thing and lose the main thing. Let me prove it to you right now, and I’ll do it with humor so we can laugh about it.
I will get emails that say, “Dave what version of the bible do you use?” That’s a trick question. I’ve done this enough to know that’s a trick question. It doesn’t matter what I respond other than King James Version: I am going to get shellacked, yo. “Dave, what version of the bible do you use?” NASB. (GASP–Does that talk about Jesus in the NASB?) Sometimes I’ll mess with you. For those of you here that aren’t laughing: You will now email me- be like, “Dave, you know the King James version really is the only version.” Sometimes I’ll mess with you and say, “Guess what? I only study out of the New Living Bible.” Just to see if I can’t cause a coronary to take place. When I tell people that I actually did come to Christ out of the NIV they’re blown away. (“Like really? Out of the NIV… people… I didn’t know anybody got saved out of the NIV. I thought….I thought that that was the nearly inspired version. It’s kind of Christian, but not really…)
Listen we’ll get together… the Charismatics will show up. They’ll… they’ll have their spirit filled Bibles right? You can tell, because it’ll say ‘spirit filled Bible’ and they’re very excited about coming to church. The Methodist: they’ll show up and they’ll have New Living. Right? Catholics show up and they don’t have a Bible. They’re like (“I didn’t know you can have your own Bible. That’s really…”) Right? I don’t… I don’t say that mockingly. I love that. That they’re coming. I’m like “Let me know. I’ll buy you one-a nice leather one. I’ll get you a leather. I’ll walk you through each page and show you Jesus on each page.” But what religion does is: it will take a minor thing- it makes it a major thing — and it loses the main thing. It loses Jesus Christ. You don’t believe me?
You look back at the history of the church since the 50s when Vietnam kicked off. The church: We chose to argue over, and over, and over about denominational turf. That’s where we spent our 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. (No we baptized people deep. We do it right. God is happy with us. We’re going to divide from everybody else. We alone do it right). That’s taking something- Making it absolute- and losing the main thing. Why do we get baptized? It’s because Jesus was crucified. He was buried. He rose again. And we want to proclaim we’re on Team Jesus. Some people sprinkle; some people dunk. Listen, I’m just glad they want to know and follow Jesus Christ. That’s where I come down. I’ve got studied conviction about it. I can walk you through the Greek, what I believe. But, I’m not going to make minor things major things and lose the only thing that matters. His name is Jesus Christ. I had people come in and they’ll say, “How do you do communion?” (Well we do it once a month. We do it with bread and juice). “Juice? Like Welch’s grape juice?” (I think… I don’t know what brand. I think we even buy it on sale. I don’t know…. I don’t purchase it.”) “Well why don’t you use wine?” (Well… I’m a recovering alcoholic, so that’s tough for me right?) If Jesus says, “you gotta do it with wine.” I’m like, ‘yeah that’s got me off to the races.’ “Why don’t you do it every week?” (Well we’re open to that. We may… we may not.) Jesus says, “As often as you do it, do so in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor 11:24)
How we do it, when we do it… Yes we’re going to have studied conviction on that-but that we do it, and that it makes much of Jesus Christ. Don’t make minor things major things and lose the main thing. His name is Jesus Christ. And that’s what Jesus is saying here. “You guys are totally trying to combine Old Testament and New Testament. I came to totally fulfill the Old Testament. Every picture, every part, every piece, every pericope, in the Old Testament points to me. You guys should be coming to me, worshipping me, following me.” But instead what religion does– it seeks to do away with Jesus Christ, and says ‘no we don’t need Jesus Christ.’
Jesus brings up fasting. Listen, you know in our day and age we are like, “well do you fast? Do you not fast? Is fasting good?” Jesus fasted. Should we fast?” Yeah, fasting is a great thing. It is a great thing! I’m going to say this multiple times, but don’t make a minor thing the major thing and lose the main thing. His name is Jesus Christ. Should we fast? Yes. (No Amens. I knew this was going to be a tough one). Should we fast? Okay, let me walk you through why nobody likes what I just said.
Jesus expected that we would. He expected that I would. That I would deny the flesh. That I would deny myself something, at some time, in some way, to follow him. Did I make it broad enough for everyone? That we would deny something, in some way, at some time, to follow Jesus Christ. What religion does: it says, “how much did you fast this week? How long was it – 24 hours? Oh Only 12.. J.V. Christian… he only…. only 12 hours. Well when you grow up then maybe you’ll do a whole day and not just a half day.” Should…. should Americans fast? Yes. The reason we are not excited about Jesus Christ coming back is because our bellies are full. Consistently, constantly, every day– and there’s no room to think about Jesus because I am so filled every day with the food of this world. And so I would start out by saying “just skip a Snickers bar once.” No in all honesty, that’s where it started. Listen, I wasn’t going to jump into the deep end. Go for 24 hours. WHAT? But where it started was, “You know what, right now I really superduper want a Snickers bar, but I can say no to a Snickers bar and make room for Jesus Christ– and say Lord I want you more than that Snickers bar right now.” And I start there and you begin to grow on that. Should we… should we fast? Absolutely! As the Spirit of God leads you to make room in your heart for Jesus Christ. See we don’t look forward to Jesus coming back cause there’s no room in our schedules for that.
There’s no room in my schedule for Jesus to come back; for the trumpet to sound; the dead in Christ rise first; and then all of us who are alive and remain to be caught up and together in the air with him. (1 Thess 4:16-17)
I don’t have time for that. I’m super busy. “Wait Jesus, come back later.” See our schedules are so full and our adrenal glands so spent. I don’t have time in my schedule for Jesus. This is why the supply line of grace is totally cut off.
‘I don’t have time to read. I don’t have time to pray.’ Then you’ll call me and say, “Dave, life is falling apart it’s awful. It’s horrible… nothing’s going well.” Then I’ll say “How’s the supply line?” He’s given us a supply line of grace, prayer, the word of God, the saints, time together, fellowship, baptism, communion–this total supply line of grace. But we cut it off and then religion will make…will make a big deal out of things that are not a big deal. Here’s where I want to get to. I’m way over…here’s where I want to get to. Let me tell you this. Here’s a trustworthy statement, worthy of full acceptance: That Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners; among whom I am chief and foremost of all. And if Jesus Christ can save a wretch, reprobate, a blasphemer, a wicked, vile person like me- then there is hope for every single person in this world.
I don’t care who you are when they walk through this door. What they need to see is not a whole bunch of religious people condemning other people. They need to see people whose supply lines are connected to the Father–who can give grace, and mercy, and peace, and love, and joy– so that they can see the body of Christ being the body of Christ, and have their hearts stirred. And maybe that kindness of God would lead them to repentance. You see we don’t gather as people who are super, duper awesome. We gather as people who are broken, weak sinners who’ve received grace and therefore we can give grace. Let’s repent of our Pharisee hearts. Let’s repent of our religious hearts. And Hillside Fellowship, let’s be a place when sinners; when broken, weak, fallen, and messed up people; that have worn the labels of this world come in— We get to point them to the one who removes those labels and gives them a new name. Let’s watch Jesus Christ use us to transform our community for His glory. Let’s pray.
Father God, thank you so much for this morning. Thank you for the fact that although I was profoundly and still am profoundly religious-that you love me and you invite me to humble myself and die to that religion and find grace in your Son Jesus Christ. Father, I love Hillside. I love this body. And I do ask you to allow us to be a place of grace and truth, that is incredibly compassionate, and tender, and addicted to Truth. Father, would you combine those things and save souls so we might see sinners set free Lord. Would you use this for your glory in that way? In Jesus name Amen.
Mark 2:13-22 NASB
13 And He went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.
14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He *said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.
15 And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. 16 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?” 17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
18 John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they came and said to Him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast, can they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.
21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. 22 No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
- The King’s Friends 2:13-17
- The King’s Enemies 2:18-22
QUESTIONS FOR NEXT WEEK
- Jesus came unto His own and His own did not receive Him, why didn’t they?
- How do our hearts naturally trend toward religion, trying to fix ourselves and be good so that God will be pleased with us?
- Where do you find religion, self-righteousness and attempts to please God in your own efforts present in your life?
- Why is the grace given to us in the good news of Jesus so difficult to understand and accept?
- Do you believe that God is totally pleased with you because of what His son Jesus has done for you?