************ Sermon on Luke 5:32 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 1, 2007
"Jesus Calls Sinners to Repentance"
I Jesus Came for Sinners
A Levi, otherwise known as Matthew, had just been converted. So he decided on a feast. Of course he decided on a feast. After all, his whole life has just been transformed.
Topic: ConversionThe same is true of the Christian life. Jesus took a tax collector, a notorious sinner, and transformed him into one of His disciples.
Subtopic: Examples of
In England there's a paper factory that makes the finest stationery that's made. One day a man touring the factory asked what it was made from. He was shown a huge pile of old rags. The rag content is what determined the quality of the paper. The man wouldn't believe it. In 6 weeks he received a package of paper from the company with his initials embossed on it. On the 1st page were written the words: "Dirty Rags Transformed."
Levi has been transformed by the call of the Lord – even as Jesus has called and transformed those professing their faith this morning – so Levi decides to have a party. To this party Levi invited Jesus, the other disciples, former coworkers, and "others" described by the Pharisees as "sinners" (cf Lk 5:30).
B The Pharisees were upset when they found out what Jesus and His disciples were doing. They asked, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" (Lk 5:30).
We need to realize that table fellowship in that time and place and culture was one of the most sacred of acts. It indicated trust, equality, friendship, and protection. It established a bond between those in attendance. But, don't we say the same thing about the Lord's Supper?
By eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners Jesus and His disciples were declaring these people were their equal. They were declaring there was a bond between them and these people. They were declaring friendship with these people.
C "What is so bad about this?", you might ask. To you and I this might seem as something innocent and certainly nothing to get upset about.
This, however, was not the case as far as the Pharisees were concerned. The Pharisees avoided all contact with tax collectors and sinners. "Tax collectors," like Levi, sat at a toll booth and levied duty on the merchandise that was brought through. Since the tax rates were not always clear, it was easy for an dishonest man to make extra money for himself. We have no evidence that Levi was a thief but even if he served honestly, the Pharisees still despised him for defiling himself by working for the Gentiles. To the Pharisees, Levi was unclean and unfit for Temple worship. "Sinners" were those Jews who failed to practice and follow all the rules and regulations set up by the Pharisees to keep themselves pure and holy. Like the "tax collectors," "sinners" were also considered unclean and unfit for worship.
The Pharisees believed that if they came into contact with an "unclean" person they themselves became unclean. Eating with unclean people – as Jesus and His disciples were doing – for sure would make you unclean and unfit for worship. The Pharisees believed that contact with "unclean" people meant they themselves could not worship God, offer sacrifices for sins, give gifts, or participate in the holy feasts. Carried to its logical conclusion, continued contact with "unclean" people could actually endanger their salvation. When Pharisees did come into contact with an unclean person they had to go through a lengthy cleansing process.
It is little wonder, then, that the Pharisees were upset with Jesus and His disciples. "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" (Lk 5:30).
D What Jesus did needs no defending. Yet, in our text for this morning we read Jesus' explanation to the Pharisees. Jesus said,
(Lk 5:31-32) "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. (32) I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
In this short parable Jesus mentions a well-known and self-evident fact: it isn't healthy people who need the healing services of a doctor; rather, it is sick people who are seen by the doctor. Jesus identifies Himself here as the doctor, as the Great Physician. Jesus is saying that He came to heal the sick, not the well. Or as Jesus Himself puts it, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Lk 5:32). Or, I think of the words of Jesus further on in the Gospel: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Lk 19:10).
The scribes and Pharisees saw Levi and his friends as condemned sinners, but Jesus saw them as spiritually sick "patients" who needed the help of a doctor. In fact, He had illustrated this when He cleansed the leper (Lk 5:12f) and healed the paralytic (Lk 5:17f) just a few verses before our Bible reading.
Why did Jesus come into the world? You can hear all sorts of things: to be our example, as a great teacher, to overthrow the Jewish religious establishment, to start a new faith. As Christians we too can give all sorts of different but still correct answers. The New Testament, you see, has different ways of describing the mission and purpose of the Master: to bring the Kingdom, to destroy the work of Satan, to do the Father's will, to glorify God. But there is one basic answer that every Christian should know: Christ came to seek and save people who are lost. Christ came to save sinners.
Topic: ConversionGod sent Jesus for sinners, for the spiritually sick! Mike and Jack and Joan – or any of us – do not profess Christ because we are perfect but because we know we are sinners.
Title: A Change of Heart
"Why in the world would I want to become a Christian?" asked a young woman who was responding to a question posed by a street minister. That day, the minister was handing out to those passing by a pamphlet on inviting Christ into one's life and becoming a Christian.
"Being a Christian means I will have to give up everything I enjoy; smoking, drinking, telling jokes, and wearing the types of clothes I like," said the young woman. The minister just stood and listened as the woman went on, "I am not perfect. I cannot be like you. I am a sinner, so I cannot be a Christian."
After a moment, the minister responded, "Is that what you think, that Jesus died for the sins of the PERFECT, for the sinless?"
"Well, no," replied the young woman.
The minister continued, "It is because of our sinful nature that God sent His Son. The Bible is not filled with stories of perfect people, but of the imperfect; of robbers who repented of their stealing, of prostitutes who turned from their evil ways, and of adulterers who sought forgiveness from their sins."
As you prepare for the Lord's Supper this coming week, remember this most basic point of the Gospel – that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And, don't ever forget, you and I are included. We are the sinners He has come to save.
II Jesus Calls Sinners to Repentance
A I want you to notice how Jesus defines His mission to the sick and sinful:
(Luke 5:32) "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."Let's put this positively: Jesus has come to call sinners to repentance. As we prepare for the Lord's Supper Jesus calls us to repent.
We talked about repentance in Pastor's Class. We know John the Baptist preached repentance in order to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus. We know repentance is mentioned in the first recorded sermon of Jesus. We know it is a must: "Unless you repent you too will all perish" (Lk 13:3,5). We have all heard this word hundred of times but do we really know what it means?
Repentance always includes four things.
First, repentance always includes an admission of sin. You must be convinced that you are a sinner. You aren't really admitting your guilt if in your heart you think you are basically good and innocent.
The Pharisees didn't really think they were sinners. Jesus said He did not come for the healthy and righteous. But, who are the healthy and righteous? Who is it that does not need the services of the Great Physician? The Pharisees thought they were the healthy who did not need healing. They thought of themselves as holy and blameless. They thought they had no sin. They thought they had no need for Jesus. The scribes and Pharisees were quick to diagnose the needs of others, but they were blind to their own needs, for they were sinners like everyone else. They appeared righteous on the outside but were corrupt within (Mt 23:25–28). Mind you, the Pharisees were some of the holiest people around. I would love it if the members of Trinity United Reformed Church kept the law of God the way they did. Yet, the fact remains, they too needed the Savior.
Perhaps there are some here this morning who are like the Pharisees. Perhaps there are some here who think they are righteous and holy and blameless. Perhaps there are some here who think they have no need for Jesus. Perhaps there are some here who think the rest of the church needs forgiveness, but they themselves do not. Perhaps there are some here who think Jesus had to die – not for themselves, but for their wicked neighbors, an erring aunt, a wayward nephew or cousin or brother. These are the sort of people who hear a Sunday sermon and say, "Too bad 'so and so" was not here to hear it." If you think this way, I am afraid the Lord's Supper is NOT for you. The Lord's Supper, like the Savior, is for sinners.
Admit your sin. How do we know our sin? The law of God tells us. The law of God requires us to love God above all and our neighbor as ourselves. No one does this. No one can do this. Therefore, the law tells us we are sinners.
Look at yourself in the light of God's law. Look at what God demands: love! Look at what you cannot do: love! Look at yourself in the light of God's law and repent. Look at yourself in the light of God's law and admit you are a sinner, a miserable sinner, a terrible sinner who deserves nothing but eternal hell fire.
Admit your sin. The first step toward healing the sickness of sin is admitting that we have a need and that we must do something about it.
B Second, repentance always includes sorrow for sin. Not just remorse. Not just feeling bad that you lost your temper again, that you looked at internet pornography again, that you used swear words again, that you took advantage of someone again, that you had anger and hate in your heart again.
Remember what Judas did after he betrayed Jesus? He felt bad. He even felt miserable and deeply regretted what he had done. He felt bad for himself. He was full of self-pity. He was sorry he was caught. He was sorry everyone saw what he did. He was sorry for the consequences of his sin. All his sorrow centered on himself. He didn't truly repent. He wasn't full of sorrow that he had offended God and sinned against God. If he had truly repented then he would have sought the Savior's forgiveness. But he didn't. Instead, he went out and hung himself.
True sorrow is God-centered. It is a sorrow born out of love for God. One who truly grieves over his sin realizes that he has sinned against God and hurt the heart of God.
C Third, repentance always includes a turning from sin. I would say this is the most important part of repentance. You know, it is too easy to admit and confess your sin, to express sorrow for sin. We do it every day. "Forgive us our debts," we pray every day. "I am a sinner," we pray ever day. But to stop the sin, to turn from the sin, to avoid the sin – that is an entirely different matter. That is hard, hard, hard, so very hard. True repentance is not just feeling sorry for sin but feeling sorry enough to quit.
Topic: ConversionCassie repented. She truly repented. She did more than just feel sorry about her life of sin. She quit her life of sin – I am not saying she was perfect – and served Christ.
Subtopic: Examples of
Title: Cassie's Conversion
Remember Cassie who was martyred for her faith in the Columbine shooting massacre in 1999?
Cassie was totally anti-Christian 2 years before she died. She was involved in witchcraft and very suicidal. Her parents forcibly dragged her into the youth pastor's office. When she walked out, his reaction was, "Wow, she's a lost cause."
Through the prayers of her church's youth group, parents, and others, about 6 months later Cassie walked back up to the youth pastor and said, "You'll never guess what I did today. I gave my life to Christ!"
From that point forward, Cassie was a radical evangelist on her campus. Her funeral showed some videotape of her sharing parts of her testimony, which were very powerful. It was because of her radical faith on campus that she was asked if she believed in God. She replied, "Yes, I believe in Jesus." And she was shot.
Remember what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery? Her accusers wanted to stone her. Jesus said, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" (Jn 8:7). After everyone left Jesus assured her that she was forgiven. But then He added one more thing, an important thing: "Go now and leave your life of sin." In other words, "Repent!" "Stop your sinning!"
D Fourth, repentance always includes a complete change of life. When we repent we hate what God hates and love what God loves. When we repent we run from sin instead of to sin. When we repent we run after righteousness. When we repent we love to obey God's will.
However, this obedience doesn't earn us anything. Even the holiest among us makes only a small beginning in living the kind of life God wants us to live. Even the holiest among us still remains a sinner. Even the holiest among us do not deserve God's grace and favor and certainly do not earn God's salvation. Even the very best we do in this life is imperfect and stained with sin.
Many Christians make a mistake. Once they repent they think the battle has been won, they think the crown is already in their grasp, they think the old things have passed away, they think all things have become new, they think their old life and nature is gone. But they soon find out that repentance is like enlisting in the army – that there is always a battle at hand.
We don't repent in order to melt God's heart towards us. We don't repent in order to earn forgiveness. The more we repent the more we realize our need for repentance. The more we repent the more we realize how hopeless and helpless we are because of sin. The more we repent the more we are driven to Christ for forgiveness.
Repent as you prepare for the Lord's Supper: admit your sin, have sorrow for sin, stop your sin, and by God's grace change your life.
Jesus is the Great Physician. He has come for those who have the sickness of sin. He has come to call them to repentance. His diagnosis is always accurate and His cure is always perfect and complete.
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