The Gospel On Display

As I mentioned in my last blog, this past Sunday was the first time I preached in the PM service at Wallaroo Bible Fellowship. My title was, “The Gospel on Display”, and my text was Mark 2:13-17. I love this passage because it illustrates the true nature of the gospel. I thought this passage would be a great way to kick things off.

I began the message by asking the question: “What is the Gospel?” There are many wrong answers to this question. For instance, some say the gospel is love, that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Others say the gospel is self-fulillment, that God wants you to find personal fulfillment in Jesus. Another false view suggests that the gospel primarily consists in morals, that you should be a good person and then you can go to heaven when you die. Furthere still, others say the gospel is a prayer, i.e., if you pray the sinners prayer and mean it in your heart, then you will go to heaven. Each of these false views has a remnant of truth in them (except for the third view), but none of them decisevely answers the question, “What Is the Gospel?”

According to the Bible the gospel is the good news that God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus is able to save sinners from the wrath of God. One glaring implication of this basic definition is that you can’t clean yourself up by doing religious things, and then come to Jesus. Jesus does not save righteous people! Jesus saves sinners (Romans 5:8). This begs a second question: If you can’t save yourself by being righteous, or by being religious, then what do you do? Answer: You must repent of your sins (Acts 17:30), and you must believe in Christ (Romans 4:5). I said more, but you get the point!

I went on to suggest that in this passage the gospel is on display in the life of Christ. This passage portrays “Three Aspects of the Gospel Illustrated in the Life of Jesus”: I. The Message of the Gospel is Repentance and Faith (2:13-14); II. The Enemy of the Gospel is Self-Righteousness (2:15-16); III. The Purpose of the Gospel is Salvation (2:17).

I. The Message of the Gospel is Repentance and Faith (2:13-14)

Jesus is walking along the Sea of Galille, teaching people, and he enters the city of Capernaum. As he passes by, he sees Levi, a tax collector, sitting in the tax booth. Levi was a Jew. He had a very strong religious background. But he was employed by the despised Roman Government. To put it simply, this means that Levi had compromised himself, spiritually, politically, and religiously. By forsaking his Jewish roots Levi had trashed his family, trashed his synagogue, trashed his nation, and trashed his God. He was a hated, wicked, despised, and sinful man.

And Jesus says to Him, “Follow Me” Implication? The Gospel is for sinners! Jesus looks right into the life of this wicked, sinful, hated man, and he says, “Follow Me”. Jesus call for Levi to follow demanded two things, namely, that he repent of his wicked life of sin, and that he follow after Christ for the rest of his life. Jesus demanded repentance and he demanded faith. This is the Gospel.

II. The Enemy of the Gospel is Self-Righteousness (2:15-16)

As soon as Levi (Matthew) becomes a Christian he decideds to throw a party for Jesus (Luke 5:29). So Jesus goes to Levi’s house to eat. Let’s set the scene. First, note that this was not just any meal. This was a very special meal, as indicated by the fact that Jesus was reclining, rather than sitting at the table. Reclining was actually a Gentile practice, only used in special occasions. Second, note that Jesus was eating and drinking with “tax collectors and sinners.” This is not a theological designation, but a social designation. These were the inferior, irreligious, social outcasts. So here sits Jesus engaging in a Gentile practice with one of the most wicked men (formerly) in the whole city, surrounded by religious and social outcasts.

So the scribes of the Pharisees ask, “Why is He eating and drinking with sinners and tax-collectors?” The scribes of the Pharisees were the most religious group within the most religious group in all of Israel. They obvioulsy didn’t like the situation that is before them. Why? Simply put, the Pharisees believed that right standing with God was merited only through self-righteousness. They believed that the only way to establish and maintain a relationship with God is by establishing and maintaing their own self-righteousness. Jesus’ action of eating with tax-collectors and sinners states emphatically that the way to be saved is not by participating in religious practices, but by repentance of sin and faith in Himself.

The scribes of the Pharisees were totally wrong.  The way you enter into a relationship with God is not by keeping man-made religious rules! It is not by establishing your own righteousness before God on the basis of your personal efforts! This is the enemy of the gospel, namely, the belief that if you are religious enough or good enough or righteous enough, that God will accept you. It is a lie. The only way to know God is by repenting of sin and trusting in Christ. The Pharisees got it wrong. Don’t make the same mistake.

III. The Purpose of the Gospel is Salvation (2:17)

Jesus responds to the scribes shock and anger by quoting a proverb: “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” Who needs a physician? The sick of course. The scribes would be forced to agree with this statement, and therfore, are forced to agree with the next: “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” In other words, Jesus did not come to save people who think they are righteous. He came to save people who know they have sin, and who know they need a savior. The Pharisees are indicted. The purpose of the gospel is the salvation of sinners.

If you are willing to recognize your sin, then you can be saved. If you are trying to earn your way to a right relationship with God by your own personal efforts (whether religious or not), then you can not be saved. They way to be saved is to recognize you can’t save yourself. God can only save you if you place your faith in Him and repent of your sins. Have you?

That’s about how it went. I left out a good bit of cultural info (in this blog), but you get the just of it.

See why I love this passage?


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