Sunday, November 08, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus and the Sinners"

“Jesus and the Sinners”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
November 8, 2009
Luke 5:1-32

We’re in the Gospel of Luke together, and we’re learning about Jesus so that we can be certain about Jesus.

Last week, at the beginning of His public ministry, we learned that Jesus is good news for needy people.

Jesus went all around the region of Galilee preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God and doing many miracles to show that it had begun in Him.

And there were wildly different reactions to Him, weren’t there?

What did they think of Him in His hometown of Nazareth?

They tried to drive Him out of town and kill Him!

What about in Capernaum?  There, they didn’t want to let Him go!

Remember how old Simeon had said that Jesus would divide people?  The rising and falling of many people in Israel?  That division has begun.  And it’s just going to get deeper.

Jesus has come on the scene and proclaimed that He is the fulfillment of Isaiah 61.

He said, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.’

Jesus claimed to be good news for needy people.

Well, in chapter 5, we see even more of this.

We get a sense of what kind of people gather to Jesus.

And they are very needy people.

In Luke 5, there are four stories about people who come into contact with Jesus and then He changes their lives forever.

And there is one theme that runs through these four stories.  It’s the theme of sin.

Over and over again, Jesus interacts with sinners. “Jesus and the Sinners.”

Now, you and I know that we are all sinners.  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.

So, this chapter is all about us.  It’s about our sin.

But we don’t always think about ourselves in that way, do we?

Sometimes, we use the word “sinners” to refer to notorious sinners–the bad guys that do really bad things.  The folks who don’t even try to pretend that they are good.

Sometimes, that’s the way the word is used in the Gospel of Luke.  To describe “nogoodniks.”  People known for their bad deeds–sinners, yuck.

How do you think Jesus feels about sinners?  How do you think Jesus interacts with sinners?

This chapter begins to answer that question for us. And it’s good news for people like and you me.

The first story takes place by the lake.  Verse 1.

“One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, [another name for the Sea of Galilee] with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets.  He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.”

Do you get the picture?

There is a big crowd, and Jesus is pressed.  So he jumps into a boat and makes it his floating pulpit.  His voice can carry over the water, more people can see Him, and He isn’t crushed by the crowd.

Notice who the boat belongs to.  Simon (who Jesus will eventually re-name Peter).  This is the One whose mother-in-law Jesus has healed.

Professional fishermen were not at the top of society. They were stinky and smelly, they worked at night, they smelled like fish.

They were strong, had to be good businessmen, but they weren’t much liked.

But Jesus obviously liked them.  He hung around a lot of them–especially this Simon guy.  And He decides to do Him a favor.  V.4

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’  Simon answered, ‘Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’”

Sounds pretty reluctant, doesn’t he?

Well, it stands to reason.

They had worked all night.  How many here have worked all night?

Night is the best time for catching fish on the Lake of Gennesaret.

And how much have they caught.  Nada, right?

Well, how does Peter feel? He feels wiped out!  He feels exhausted.  He’s tired.  He wants to go home to bed.

He’s happy to let the Master do His teaching thing, but He’s probably all whipped sitting there listening to Him.

But, okay, Jesus, if you say so, I will...even though you’re a carpenter by trade, and I’m a fisherman by trade...if you say so, I will.

And, to his credit, he does.  V.6

“When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.”

These boats could be 25-27 feet long and 7 feet wide!

There’s several tons of fish being hauled into these boats.

There’s fins and flippers flying everywhere!  It’s a miracle!  V.8

“When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’  For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”

Isn’t it interesting how Simon responded to this miracle?

He didn’t say, “Oh, Jesus!  Thank you for the fish.  You’ve made my business day!”

He didn’t say, “This is so cool.  You are so cool, Lord!”

He said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man.”


Jesus hadn’t said a word about Peter’s sin.  Peter brings it up.

When you come into contact with the raw power of God, it makes you aware that you are a sinner.

That’s what happened to Isaiah in Isaiah 6, isn’t it?

Peter had been fishing all of his life, and he’d never seen anything like this.

He knew that God was doing something unique in Jesus, and it scared him.  It scared him because holy power reveals sinful hearts.

Jesus’ power reveals our sin.

And that scared Peter.

How did Jesus react to this fear?

V.10 says that he told him to not be afraid.

You see, Jesus IS holy, and that should scare sinners. But that’s not ALL He is.  He’s also...a lot of other things we’re going to see as we move on.

And instead of heading off or sending Peter away, He calls Peter to Himself and gives Him a mission.

Fully Follow Him, Catch Men

“From now on you will catch men.”  You guys are going to be a new kind of fishermen.  You are going to fish for men.

And you’ll catch them alive, too.

These men (v.11 says) left everything and followed Him.

They made a decisive break with their old lives and began to follow Jesus.

And they began to cast their nets for people to follow Him, too.

Question:  Have you left everything and begun to follow Jesus?

Are you on the lookout for people to need to be caught?

I’m thankful that the Gideons are with us today.  They have a historic track record of following the Lord and fishing for men.

But we can’t leave it up to the Gideons.

This is a call for all of us: Fully Follow Him; Catch Men.

What are you doing right now to attract others to Jesus?

How are you sharing the gospel or building a relationship with someone to share the gospel?

“From now on you will catch men...[they] left everything and followed Him.”

Now, in story #2 (verses 12-16), Jesus doesn’t actually interact with sin as much as with a picture of sin.

He heals a man who has a skin disease, one of many that go under the name of leprosy.  And leprosy, in the Bible, was not sin itself but it was a picture of sin and what sin does. 

If someone was a leper, they were un–what? Unclean.

And they even had to shout that everywhere they went.  Because uncleanness separated people.  The clean and the unclean.

And being unclean is a picture of sin.  Leprosy itself wasn’t sin but it was a picture of sin and it’s ugliness and how it divides people.  V.12

“While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy.  [This man is very needy, isn’t he?]  When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’”

Notice this man’s bold faith.  He actually comes near to Jesus.  Near enough to fall before Him on the ground. The whole way up, he would have had to be yelling out, “Unclean!  Unclean!  Unclean!”

But now he begs, “‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

And here’s where it gets amazing.  V.13

“Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man [You’re not supposed to do that!]. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him.  Then Jesus ordered him, ‘Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.’  Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

This is amazing.

Jesus touched a leper.  And instead of Jesus becoming unclean–which is how it is when anyone else touched a leper–the leper became clean!


It really happened.  Jesus sent the man to go get it verified by the priest.  He wanted him to do it quietly so that no extra trouble got stirred up and so that His identity would more slowly become known. But you could hardly stop the good news from traveling.  That’s crowds came more and more and Jesus had to carve out time to go to lonely places and pray.

It really happened!  This man, who may not have felt someone touch him for a very long time (was he a Daddy?  A husband?)–was touched by Jesus and completely cleansed.

This is a picture of what Jesus does with our sin.

We are all sinners, tainted, tarred, painted with wicked rebellion–unclean.

But Jesus, because of what He did on the Cross, has power to touch our lives and cleanse us.

Application:  Boldly Believe In Him, Be Cleansed.

This unclean man believed that Jesus could heal him and make him clean again.

And He was.

I know a lot of people who believe that they are not worthy of Jesus’ cleansing.

“I don’t feel worthy.”
“I don’t deserve it.”

You know what?  You’re right!  But don’t let that keep you from seeking it.

Call out for cleansing–and He will touch you.

And that’s true for those who have fallen into patterns of sin after becoming a Christ-follower.

Call out for cleasning–and He will touch you.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Boldly Believe In Him, Be Cleansed.

The third story in this chapter features another healing and a confrontation over forgiveness.  V.17

“One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. [Whoa!  Now Jesus has a real audience!]  And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. [Things are happening!]  Some men came carrying a paralytic [a man who is paralyzed] on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.  When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.”

Interesting!  There is standing room only, and here are some very determined men. They can’t get in the front door, so they head up onto the roof–dismantle the roof (which might have been a big job!) and then lowered their friend down the roof on his mat.

Right in front of Jesus.

Do you get the picture?

Jesus.  Power.  Cleansing Power.

The Pharisees–the chief teachers of the law, the Jewish Religious Leadership.

A big crowd.

Some loving friends.

A hurting man.

What is Jesus going to do?

What is this story about?  Is it about healing?  Only partially.

It’s actually about Who is Jesus and how does He interact with sinners.  V.20

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’”

Huh?  Did you think that he was going to heal him?

Instead, He forgave him.

Well, the resident theologians get their knickers in a twist over this one.  V.21

“The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’”

And they have a point.

I mean, if I sin against Ernie back there.  Let’s say, I stole his car.

Would it be okay for Jen Kerlin down here to forgive me for that?

Have I sinned against her?  No.

I’ve sinned against Ernie.

But all sins are fundamentally against God.  So, if someone comes around handing out forgiveness to people–He’s claiming to be especially related to God!

“Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’”

That’s the point.  V.22

“Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, ‘Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?  Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?”

Stop there for a second. Which one is easier to say?

I think that means easier to say and get away with apparently?

It’s “get up and walk.”

I mean if you say, “Your sins are forgiven,” how do you know it happened?

But if you say, “Get up and walk” and then they keep lying there–you don’t have any real authority.  V.24

“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....’ He said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’  Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.   Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, ‘We have seen remarkable things today.’”


Jesus actually has the authority to forgive sin.

What does that say about who He is?

Jesus is the Son of God.  Like we’ve been seeing all along.

You know, the purpose of this book is grow us in certainty about Jesus.

Are you certain that your sins are forgiven?

Jesus has the authority to forgive them.

And do you see how He wants to?

He delights in forgiving sins.

Not that it was easy!  Jesus had to die to forgive those sins because someone had to pay the penalty for them.

But He did.  And He loves to dispense grace to those who wholly trust Him.

Application:  Wholly Trust in Him, Receive Forgiveness.

I think that sometimes it’s hard for Christians to feel forgiven.

We can feel defeated by sin.
We can feel distracted by temptation.
We can see our imperfections and our besetting sins.

It feels like we’ll never be perfect, doesn’t it?

But Christians aren’t perfect yet. They are forgiven.

Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient to pay for all of my sin and all of your sin!

And He has authority to say to you, “Forgiven.”

“Your sins are forgiven.”

He’s saying that to every Christ-follower here.

“Your sins are forgiven.”

This month, we celebrate Thanksgiving.

And while we have many blessing to count–more than we have toes and fingers for, our greatest blessing is what Jesus’ authority says, “Your sins are forgiven.”

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

“Your sins are forgiven.”

That’s why He came.

The fourth story, and we’ll only get through the first part of it today, explains just that–Jesus came for sinners.  V.27

“After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.”

I love this story–one of the reasons why is because I was named after this guy.  His other name is Matthew. 

Tax collectors were even further down the list of respected people than fishermen or shepherds.

These were bad guys in league with the Romans and know for practicing extortion.

But this one, Levi, becomes a Christ-follower.  Like Peter, he left “everything and followed him” (v.28).

And Levi was so happy to have come to Christ that he threw a party.

And I think that one of the reasons he did it was to be a fisher of men.

Look who he invited.  V.29

“Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. [Great crowd!  This is one of those crowds that you say if a bomb dropped on this building, it would be good for the public!  That’s at least what the Pharisees thought. V.30]  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?’”

Why do you go to their parties?

Why do you hang out at their bar?

Don’t you know that those folks are sinners?  Yuck!

How does Jesus feel about sinners?

How does He interact with them?

This is why He’s here.

“Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’”

He knows that they are sinners.

And He doesn’t love their sin.  Doesn’t condone it.  Doesn’t applaud it. Doesn’t participate in it.

But that’s who He’s come for.

Not the healthy (or those who think they are). Not the righteous (or those who think they are)–but sinners, the sin-sick.

And the doctor is here.

He loves sinners.


All we have to do is turn.

Application:  Repentantly Turn to Him, Be Healed.

Do you see that in verse 32.

“I have not come to call the righteous (or self-righteous), but sinners to repentance.”

That’s our part.

We have to turn away from our sin.

We can’t keep loving it, nurturing it, excusing it, turning towards it.

We have to repent and turn to Him.

And when we do, we meet the Sin Doctor.

And we are healed.

“[Jesus] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

But to get healed, you’ve got to turn to the doctor.


Do you see better now how Jesus feels about sinners?

How He feels about you?

How do you feel about sinners?

Do you have a love for the wayward and the lost?

If you are caught, then you’ll want to be a fisher of people yourself.

If you have been forgiven, you’ll want to throw a party like Levi–and introduce your friends and loved ones to the Savior.

Jesus’ Power Reveals Our Sin–and it’s scarey.

But Jesus’ Touch Cleanses Our Sin.
Jesus’ Authority Forgives Our Sin.
Jesus’ Love Heals Our Sin.

If we turn to Him.

Messages So Far in Certain of Jesus:
Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee