Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: The Scandal of Grace
Accompanying Robert Rayburn sermon: The Great Divide
Accompanying David Legge sermon: The Savior to Sinners
Yesterday we saw that Jesus had the power and authority to forgive sins. Our passage today shows us whose sins He forgives - those who know they are sinners, admit they are sinners, and who seek forgiveness from Christ, the only One with authority to forgive sins.
The glory of the gospel is not that God gives salvation to the people who earn it, or He gives salvation to the people who achieve it, or the people who are good enough, or righteous enough, or holy enough, but He gives salvation to the ungodly and the unholy and the unrighteous who believe in Christ and repent. This is the scandal of grace and it scandalizes every works/righteousness system in existence. It is the difference between the true gospel and all other religions.
At this point, Judaism had evolved into a system of works. You earned your salvation by your own self effort and your own righteousness. Jesus' message required them to admit they were sinners, and they were too righteous for that.
In fact, the most derogatory thing they could say about Jesus was to say that He was a friend of sinners. After all, He called a tax collector to be His disciple! A tax collector! The lowest of the low. A Jew, who has sold out his own people, extorting money from them to feed the coffers of the Romans, and line his own pockets in the process. A tax collector was the worst sort of the worst. And Jesus calls him - Levi. Who is actually Matthew. We don't have a record of Jesus changing Levi's name to Matthew in scripture. Perhaps Levi/Matthew changed it himself in order to distance himself from his past.
Jesus commands Levi/Matthew to follow him. MacArthur points out something that is so obvious, I've always missed it. Jesus called Matthew because He knew what was in his heart.
Now this is an explicit command and it is immediately obeyed. The commands assume something. What it assumes is that Jesus knows his heart, right? John 2:25, "Nobody needed to tell Jesus what was in the heart of a man because He knew what was in the heart of a man," omniscience. He knew it was in his heart.
Now remember, Capernaum is Jesus' home base. This guy's a high-profile resident of Capernaum. He has heard Jesus preach. He's well aware of His power, well aware of His message. It has found a place in His heart. He is a repenter by the work of God. He is a believer by the work of God. He has a heart that the Lord has changed. Jesus knows that. This is an illustration of omniscience. And He says, "Follow Me."
Now I can tell you this, Matthew must have been shocked, he must have been absolutely shocked that this Jesus knew what he desired, and the response? He followed Him. Luke 5:28 says, "He forsook everything." Now if you had been a fisherman, you could always go back. He fished there for anybody who could catch them, right? He could always go back and be a fisherman. But once you walked away from your tax franchise, believe me, the vultures sitting on the brink waiting to take over, would take over and there wouldn't be anything to go back to.
So when Luke adds, "He forsook all," he means that. There was no return....
The righteous couldn't stand this about Jesus, it would turn their whole system upside down.
They were so far from God, they could identify people as sinners and instead of wanting to be the source of their healing and bringing them spiritual well-being, they had no mercy on them. And when Jesus came and did, they raged with hate at the merciful physician who in compassion welcomed the forgiven and believing sinners into His salvation Kingdom. With Jesus, where sin abounds, grace abounds much more.
Christians are not good people. They are people who know how bad they are, who know that they are incapable of rescuing themselves, and who are desperate for a saviour, and in that desperation they turn to the only One who can rescue them - Jesus Christ, friend of sinners.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Mark 2:18-22