Coming of the King FB

A Dining Place for Sinners

He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:13–17

We’re confronted, as we open this passage, with questions–questions about the Kingdom. Who gets into the Kingdom? What are the qualifications for getting into this Kingdom?

Christ will explain to the Pharisees that, if they ever want to join the Kingdom, they would have to change the way they identify themselves. They would have to leave the “righteous ones” and join themselves to the band of sinners. The question is: “Are they willing to do that?” Are we willing to do that?

Are we willing to be self-reflective enough to realize that, at the end of the day, we have nothing to offer God of our own righteousness; that what God’s standards are, and who we are, shows plainly that we are broken; that we are unfit; that we are sinful; that we truly are in need of redemption? Or will we keep telling ourselves that we are a good person–that “I’m not like people who do bad things?” Christ says the only way to join the kingdom is to say, “No, I really am in that company. These really are my people. These sinners are my kind!” Only then do you have any chance of joining the Kingdom of God.

If you’re satisfied with your righteousness, or if you’re “not that bad,” Christ didn’t come for you. And that’s not good news. Because you will be exposed on that last day.

These people are able to sit at table with Jesus, why? Not because he didn’t care about sins, but because he can say to those who are honest about their sinfulness that he has the power within himself to forgive them, and to change them forevermore.