Lesson 36—October 12, 2014
Who’s Really Sick?
To learn more of the work and ministry of Jesus.
According to The Believer’s Bible:
Tax collectors are treated by the Jews as the most despised members of society, being ranked with prostitutes and the basest of people. They collected for the Roman government, and therefore were detested for aiding the Jews’ foreign conqueror as well as for frequently defrauding the people by means of levying excess taxes.
Jesus had called Matthew to “follow me,” and Matthew left his tax business and followed Jesus. Matthew left behind the old life. In gratitude, Matthew gives a great feast and invites Jesus and His disciples as well as his own friends and associates who were not the respectable people of society; in fact, they were not even the church-going crowd. They were the “tax collectors and sinners.” Matthew had found something wonderful, a genuinely wonderful love from Jesus, and he wanted to share this love with others.
“Matthew did not forget his sinful friends after his conversion. He wanted them to have the same wonderful life-changing experience
with Jesus that he had come to know” (Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible-Mark).
Levi made his identification with Christ public by holding a great banquet in Jesus’ honor at his house. The righteous Jews of the community would not have responded to an invitation to come to the house of a tax collector, so the banquet was filled with fellow tax collectors and others who fell into the category of sinners. Jesus did not draw back from association with such people. The Pharisees and teachers of the law (scribes) found Jesus’ conduct most objectionable and challenged the disciples to explain why Jesus would fellowship with tax collectors and sinners (Pentecost).
(V16) Remember that when Jesus healed the paralytic, it was some of the scribes who had objected, although they remained silent. Now they are joined by the Pharisees. From this point on, give attention to this coming together of the scribes and Pharisees. Another religious group, called the Sadducees, will join in the effort to disprove the work, ministry and mission of Jesus Christ.
• Why did the scribes and Pharisees join together in posing this question in verse 16: “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”
• What prompted the question by the scribes and Pharisees?
• Why did the scribes and Pharisees ask the question to Jesus’ disciples instead of to Jesus Himself? Please give prayerful thought to your answer—really think about it.
Let us remember that the very word “Pharisee” means “separation.” The idea was that “holy” men separated themselves so they would not be contaminated by associating with such people as tax collectors and sinners.
John Phillips states it this way:
Publicans! Sinners! We can hear the horror and contempt in their voices. We can see the disgust on their faces. Why, such people were moral lepers. They were outcasts, untouchables. Not one of the members of the religious establishment would even so much as dream of having his name linked with such people. […]Yet, here is this young prophet from Nazareth attending a party convened by the scum of the neighborhood. They could not gainsay His miracles, but now they begin to question His morals.
(V16) Notice to whom the question was addressed. To Jesus’ disciples. The scribes and Pharisees want the disciples to explain Jesus’ behavior.
Remember, the disciples had surrendered their lives to follow Christ. They were “disciples” which mean “learners.” They were early in their learning and training with Jesus. In verse fifteen, the word disciple appears for the first of fifty-eight times in the book of Mark.
• Has anyone ever questioned you about your faith in Jesus Christ, in an effort to make you look foolish for not knowing how to respond to their question?
• Has anyone ever deliberately tried to trip you up with questions concerning the Bible, Jesus Christ, your faith, your love for Jesus,or just the reality of God?
(V17) “When Jesus heard it, He said to them…”
On this specific occasion, Jesus did not want or need His disciples to speak for Him. He answers for Himself!
Jesus uses this critical question presented by the scribes and Pharisees to teach all those gathered in Matthew’s house about Himself and His mission. He will give His own explanation.
(V17) Jesus gives His answer
1. “Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick”
2. “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Here is a statement of Jesus’ mission: “It might be paraphrased, ‘I did not come to call individuals who regard themselves as righteous or whom society regards as upright, but I came to call those who recognize that they are sinners and in need of a Savior’” (Vos).
The scribes and Pharisees were a self-righteous group. Jesus took them at their own appraisal. They would be the last to acknowledge that they were in need of Jesus’ ministry. Thus they were the “whole” or the “well.” A physician would not be expected to be found among such a healthy group. On the other hand, the scribes and Pharisees certainly regarded the tax collectors and sinners as sick. Therefore the physician of souls would naturally be found among them, striving to heal them of their illness (Hobbs).
• Please explain this Brackin terminology:
Before you can get a person saved, you must first get him lost.
In 1951, A. B. Bruce stated:
Jesus would not have met such people [tax collectors and sinners] in the synagogue, as they seem to have been excluded from it. So since they could/would not come to the synagogue, Jesus went where they were. Too often today in the churches one finds largely the “whole.” Present-day followers of Jesus would do well to follow the example of their Lord, going where the “sick” are when they do not come to the stated meeting places of the churches.”
Please note when A. B. Bruce wrote these words—1951.
In the minds of the scribes and Pharisees, how could Jesus dare associate with such sinners?
Those who live in modern, western society have difficulty realizing just how scandalous it was for Jesus to associate with outcasts. In Jewish society, table fellowship was one of the most intimate expressions of fellowship. For this reason, the religious leaders could not understand how Jesus could be a religious person and dine with tax collectors and sinners (Brooks).
For Jesus to refuse to associate with sinners would have been as ridiculous as a doctor not to associate with the sick.
• How can we (followers of Jesus Christ) apply the truth of verses 16 and 17 to our own lives in 2014?
Please read Matthew 9:13. Of the three accounts (Matthew, Mark and Luke), only Matthew records the words of verse thirteen.
Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6 to make the point that God is more interested in a person’s loyal love then in the observance of external rituals. Jesus refers to the Pharisees [ironically] as the righteous. They were not righteous; that was only how they perceived themselves because of their pious and scrupulous law-keeping. [See Philippians 3:6] But Jesus explained, quoting from the familiar words of an Old Testament prophet, that God had already judged sacrifices without mercy as worthless (MacDonald).
• How can we show others the love of Jesus Christ?
• Important Question: How can we (followers of Jesus Christ) associate with sinners without associating with sin?