Notes On Mark’s Gospel (26)

“On Your Mark”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

The Friend of Sinners (Chapter 2 Verses 13-17)

Matthew does not simply want to give food to these people, he wants them to be saved. But first and foremost it is the honour of Christ, his glory, that concerns Matthew. That surely is the basis for all our evangelism, the glory of our God. It is not human sympathy, it is not the Lord’s return, but because of what he has done for, and made us in Christ (1Peter 2.9). The spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling. The use of Matthew’s home is a reminder to us of the service we can render in our homes. This was a bridge-building exercise in order to reach sinners with God’s grace. Yes there are dangers, it needs to be controlled, overseen, but we must reach out to this needy world. The evangelical Church can sometimes be a little bit like the Pharisees, always available for people to come to them, you can come to our Church if you want help or saving? Is it fear? Are we afraid? The kingdom of God is a not a fear zone.

The hearts of the Pharisees are revealed once more (v16). Utterly aghast at Jesus’ association with sinners. Now they can see with their own eyes the wicked things Jesus is doing. Notice again their bravery, it is the disciples they go for, they don’t ask Jesus outright. Why? On what grounds do your actions stand is the question? Guilt by association, their doctrine was salvation by separation, a holiness so fragile, so vulnerable, it was useless to the real world. The doctrines of God’s grace are not a set of quarantine rules. But Jesus’ word and work was known well by now throughout Palestine, only by ignoring its effects, its results could they raise such a superficial objection. With due promptness Jesus delivers his crushing answer. Does a doctor only visit healthy people (v17)? He might catch an infection, that is their reasoning. Of course they imagine themselves to be well, utterly sound, no need for any physician there. So they on the basis of their own judgment do not need Jesus, so Jesus on that self-same basis goes to those who need him, the sick, sinners. In accordance with their own reasoning he is perfectly justified. But, it is his business to deal with the sick, in order to cure them, yet without contaminating himself (Exodus 15.26). Like so many Church going, religious people today, they saw no fault in themselves, self-deluded, blinded to the truth of their own sin. We do not want this Jesus disturbing us. The Bible tells us sin is a reality in us all (Romans 6.23; Romans 3.10-18). But there is Saviour, and Jesus is his lovely name (Acts 4.12).

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)

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