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A Slight Change of Focus

A SLIGHT CHANGE OF FOCUS                                    Mark 2: 13-17

I want you to look at this section of our auditorium over here…wouldn’t it be exciting to see 10 new faces sitting over here?

And wouldn’t it be exciting to see 10 or 15 baptisms this year?

I believe it is possible and it may be that all we need to do is change our focus…our attitudes just a little.

In verse 13 Jesus is doing what He came primarily to do.. .He is teaching.

And now notice verse 15…”it came about that He was reclining at the table in his house (probably Levi’s house), and many tax-gatherers and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples (notice His disciples are there) ; for there were many of them, and they were following Him.”

Now, let me give you a little background to help you understand what is going on here.

Tax collectors were so despised by their own people that they were kicked out of the synagogues.

And so, when Jesus is gathered here with all these tax-collectors…that raises a few eyebrows.

So, look at verse 16. The Pharisees and scribes start asking, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax-gatherers and sinners?”

Well, Jesus hears their criticism and I want you to look at what He says in verse 17. Jesus speaks to the scribes and Pharisees and He says: “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.”

Here is, I believe, at least in part, the answer to having 10 new faces here…and 10 new faces here…and 10 new faces over here.

But here is the problem…here is what is causing the tension between Jesus and these Pharisees.

healing…in need of being saved…in need of a physician.. .and what better place for a doctor…and His disciples to be than among those who are sick.

And I believe that is the primary lesson for us in this story.

And because we do that…and because we have done that…that is in part one of the reasons why we haven’t already seen 10 new faces here…and 10 here…and 10 here?

Let me ask you this: Do you know what people I spend the majority of my time with?

In this passage, Jesus eats with these tax gatherers…these sinners…these people who are “sick.”

And this doesn’t just apply to me…it applies to all of us.

Fellowship with each other is very important…but God doesn’t want us to seclude ourselves away from those in need of the Physician.

And look with me at 1 Cor. 5:9-11:  I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with the idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.”

Look at this passage found in Luke 14 starting in verse 12. Speaking of Jesus, Luke says: And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. 13 “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. “

But Jesus says here, “If you want to be wonderful in the eyes of God, then go beyond your friends, your relatives, your brothers…and the rich neighbors…and invite those that society considers to be the outcasts…the rejects…and reach out to them…show compassion to them.

Now, obviously, in this story these tax gatherers and sinners were not on the same spiritual level as Jesus.

And that is what we will have to do.

But, if I refuse to eat with them one thing I know…they will never be sitting in this section…or that
one…or that one.

If we will only change our focus a little…our attitudes…and start looking for people who are outsiders…the rejects…the tax gatherers…

Now, let’s be careful with this.

And notice, He is not there to be infected by their sickness. He is there to make them well.

Jesus doesn’t do that…He doesn’t endorse that at any tune.

And what that means is this: It is a risky thing to move among the sick.

But some of you are strong in the Lord…and your relationship with God is so strong that you can move among the sinful without catching the disease…and that is where you belong.

And let me tell you something else we can learn from Jesus in this situation: No Christian should be condemned for being with the wrong people for the right reason.

consider to be a “tax collector” or a “sinner.”

Brethren, I believe that God, through us, can put 10 new faces here.. .and 10 new faces here.. .and 10 new faces here in a short time.. .if we will stop looking exclusively inward.. .and start looking outwardly for those who are in need of the Physician.