Mark 2:13-17 Jesus Came For Sinners

by | Oct 23, 2023 | Mark, New Testament

I. Matthew (Levi)

A. The Choosing Of Matthew Vs. 13, 14

1. V. 13-He taught them- The third time Mark mentions that Jesus was teaching the people.

2. V. 14-Levi was also known as Matthew- (Matthew 9:9)

a. Matthew- became a follower of Jesus, and later on, an apostle and Gospel author.

i. Jesus sometimes changed the name of His followers. (See 3:17)

ii. Jesus may have changed Levi’s name to Matthew– which meant Gift of God

iii. Matthew came from the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe. Now he was a tax collector.

b. Tax collectors-At that time, the Roman Kingdom was an occupying force in Israel.

c. They allowed the Jews to practice religion, but they were greatly hated by the Jews.

d. Tax collectors placed bids with the Roman government to get the job of tax collector.

e. Their job was to gather taxes from the Jewish citizens to give to Rome.

f. They were paid no salary, but could demand more money than what Rome actually wanted, and they could keep the extra money for themselves.

g. They were considered traitors & thieves. They loved money more than their nation.

h. They were Jewish citizens who collaborated with the enemy.

i. Lane- “When a Jew entered the customs service (tax collecting) he was regarded as an outcast from society: he was disqualified as a judge or a witness in a court session, was excommunicated from the synagogue, and in the eyes of the community his disgrace extended to his family.”

j. Tax collectors had been known to assess duty payable at impossible sums and then offer to lend the money to travelers at a high rate of interest. Such was Matthew.

3. V. 14-Follow Me- Not a casual invitation, but an invitation to become a disciple.

a. In doing this, Jesus is making enemies of many Jewish citizens.

b. He is inviting a culturally hated person to be a part of his group.

c. Jesus is willing to call anyone to follow Him, in spite of their great sins and failures.

d. Imagine Matthew’s hard heart now being softened by Jesus. No longer using people.

4. V. 14-Matthew was giving up a coveted position to follow Jesus.

a. It would be a great financial loss to follow Jesus. Unsure future.

b. Peter, James and John could go back to fishing.

c. Matthew had no such guarantee that he could ever return to collecting taxes.

d. Matthew burned all his bridges to follow Jesus. There would be no backup plan.

B. Jesus In Matthew’s House V. 15

1. This seems to have been Matthew’s farewell dinner. Leaving the old life to follow Jesus.

2. V. 15-The sinners were comfortable with Jesus. There were many sinners there.

a. They were not used to being welcomed by a rabbi. Rabbis were respected teachers.

b. This must have been a cultural challenge for some of the followers of Jesus.

c. Some of Jesus’ followers included nationalist zealots who hated Rome.

i. Judas Iscariot, Jude (Thaddeus), Simon the Zealot

ii. Jesus must have known the tension that would result among them from Him inviting Matthew to join them. Jesus didn’t try to make things easy/comfortable

d. Matthew invited fellow sinners to meet Jesus.

e. Matthew experienced unconditional love & approval, but not to stay the way he was.

f. He was invited to follow a Savior would ask them to follow Him no matter what

g. Jesus was called “a friend of sinners”. (Matthew 11:19)

II. A Dispute Over Jesus’ Actions

A. The Spiritually Self-Righteous Objected To Jesus’ Actions V. 16

1. V. 16-The religious leaders were confused/unhappy about Jesus eating with sinners.

a. Cultural speaking, eating and drinking with someone was a sign of close friendship.

b. It was a mark of identifying with someone. Oneness. Togetherness.

2. V. 16-The scribes and Pharisees (“separated ones”) were religiously conservative, but were actually self-righteous people who looked down on everyone.

a. They obeyed the Laws of God externally, but not internally.

b. They didn’t have any love or mercy for anyone.

c. They obeyed outwardly, but inwardly were spiritually dead and had no love for God.

d. Read Matthew 23:1-36

3. These men asked WHY Jesus would spend time with such people. Jesus gladly answered

B. Jesus Answers Their Objections V. 17

1. Jesus agreed with them. These people were sinners.

a. Ray Stedman-Jesus’ answer is very revealing. He actually agrees with their remarks. He says, in effect, “You’re right, these are sick, hurting, troubled men. Their style of life has damaged them deeply. They don’t see life rightly; they are covering up many evils; they are false in many ways. You’re right, these are sick men. But where else would a doctor be?” That is his argument. “I’ve come to heal men, and therefore where they are hurting is where I’m needed.”

2. Physically healthy people don’t need a doctor, only sick people need a doctor.

3. Spiritually righteous people don’t need to repent, but sinners need to repent.

4. That is why Jesus went to them; to call them to repentance, to become spiritually healthy

5. Jesus wasn’t just passing time with them and loving them with no further intention.

6. Those who realize that they are spiritually sick will welcome Jesus.

a. Those who do not realize that they are spiritually sick will see no need for Jesus.

b. They do not see that their spiritual sickness will lead them to spiritual death.

c. Eventually, life’s hardships may convince them of their need for Jesus. No guarantee.

7. Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6 to these leaders who prided themselves in religious duty.

a. Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

b. Sacrifice was part of the O.T. law, but it could be done w/o love for fellow man.

c. These religious rulers prided themselves on their external sacrifices.

d. But they had no mercy at all for these spiritually sick people. They despised them.

8. Jesus used a physical truth to illustrate a spiritual reality.

a. Jesus didn’t come to call righteous people to repent from their sins, but sinners.

b. Matthew’s friends knew that they were sinners.

c. Sadly, the Pharisees and scribes didn’t realize that they were also sinners.

d. That was one reason they didn’t draw near to Jesus; they saw no need to draw near.

e. Turn to Romans 3:23; Romans 6:16-23


1. If you have never said yes to Jesus, you need to understand that you are spiritually sick.

a. It’s not bad habits or personality quirks that you need to overcome.

b. If you think you can rid yourself of the spiritual disease of sin, you are wrong.

c. You need to be willing to leave your old life behind (like Matthew), & follow Jesus.

2. If you are a Christian, you need to remember where you came from; then be merciful to all.

a. Be willing to reach out to spiritually sick people, spend time with them, be seen with them.

b. Be careful that they don’t pull you down, but that you (thru Jesus) help lift them up

c. Do not become like the Pharisees in your thinking. Do not become self-righteous.