Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 9 September 2005

I Am Come To Call Sinners
 Matthew 9:9-13



As we get started this morning, I want to begin with a question.

If Jesus were walking among us today, would He eat at Lauren’s sports bar, “Goony Birds?”

If you’re thinking that I’m being disrespectful or irreverent, I want you to hold that thought – the Lord has something for you today.

What would you think of me if you saw me hanging out with folks at Goony Birds?

I don’t mean church members; I mean hanging out with the guys.

You know the ones that gawk at the girls and talk vulgarly.

Would you think less of me?

Would it bother you if Jesus liked to eat the hot wings down there?

It bothers some for me to talk about Him doing it.

You might think to yourself, “Jesus would never go in a place like that.”

Or you might try to justify Jesus’ actions.

“Well, Jesus might go in a place like that. But if He did, it would be to win the lost.”

What if I suggested to you that Jesus might go in a place like that simply because He enjoyed the company?

In our text this morning, Matthew is going to relate to us the account of his personal call and the feast that follows that call.

You won’t find the word feast in Matthew’s account – but Luke uses that word.

He says that a feast was thrown for this event, and in the process of the feast the Pharisees and scribes take occasion to attack Jesus’ association with the guests.

Jesus was hanging out with some folk who were not well-respected.

In fact, they were religious and social outcasts – and Jesus is not only eating with them, He is enjoying their company.

Let’s read Matthew 9:9-13:

“And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me, And he arose, and followed him. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

We are dealing here with our Lord’s purpose for coming to earth.

Why did He come?

Here He says specifically that He came to call sinners to repentance, but it is this conflict with the Pharisees that grabs our attention.

You see, here are two distinct groups of people: the publicans and sinners on the one hand with whom Jesus has chosen to accept and associate with, and the Pharisees on the other hand with whom He has not.

What I want you to see today is that Jesus also wants to have a close relationship with you today.

He longs for your fellowship.

He has a great desire for you to sit and feast at His table.

His desire is for you to delight in His presence; not just to sit in His presence, but to delight in it: to enjoy it and to celebrate it.

When was the last time you celebrated the presence of God?

How long has it been since you delighted in your relationship with Christ?

Perhaps you have never experienced what I am talking about.

Regardless of whether you have or not, I want to give you three ideas to consider in hopes that your relationship with Jesus Christ will move from formal to fondness and from duty to delight.

It is my hope and prayer that if you have never placed your faith in Him that you will do so today.

You Were Created for Communion with Him, that is, to have a close relationship with Christ.

Are you aware of the fact that God created you for communion with Him?

If you’ll look around you everyday, you will see the evidences of what is at the heart of man: it is a desire to feel close to people and fellowship with them.

It happens every day in coffee shops around the world, at sports bars and clubs, at lodges, honkytonks, pool halls, shopping malls, and right here at__________________and everywhere else.

What do you think is behind the explosion of cell phones and the internet?

Lonely people all over the world are engaging people they’ve never met because they’re starving for fellowship; but all that desire for fellowship began in the garden.

God created man to glorify Him, and man was to glorify God by delighting in and enjoying God’s presence.

As God and Adam walked in the garden, I hope you don’t get the idea that God was giving Adam lessons in theology.

I can imagine that God would come along side Adam and say something like, “Adam, what did you do today?”

“God, you won’t believe what I saw!”

Is it so hard to believe that Adam, like a child, reveled in the wonders of God’s creation?

Is it difficult to believe that the God of the universe would spend time walking with Adam in such a way?

Why would He do it?

Because, it made Him happy.

Listen, that’s all there is to it!

Communion and fellowship with God are about us enjoying and delighting in the presence of God.

When we are happy in God we make God happy, and when God is happy in us He makes us happy.

It is a wonderful, mutual relationship.

However, a great injustice has been done in our time, in that we have reduced God to some great sugar-daddy in the sky, constantly coming to Him for a handout when what He longs for from you is for you to express to Him that all you really want is to enjoy His presence.

You are no different with your children.

Some of you have kids who only come around when they need something.

When they run out of money, they come to you.

When the car breaks down, they want yours.

When Christmas gets close, they start calling more often, and you know how aggravated you get because you know that they treat you like that.

What you really want is to know that they call you and come by to see you simply because they love and enjoy you.

Look at our text.

In verse 10, Jesus is not sitting with an open scroll preaching to these men from the Old Testament.

He is not instructing them on the finer points of doctrine and He is not teaching them about the social ills of tax collectors.

There will be a time for all of that – but at this particular time He is simply enjoying fellowship with these men, and they are enjoying it with Him.

Look at what it says, “many came and sat down with him…”

They wanted to be with Him, to be close to Him.

They were created for that purpose – and so are you.

Jesus Is Not Who You Think

If there was anything that kept the Pharisees from being able to accept Christ, it was their misconceptions about who and what He was.

Verse 11 shows their astonishment and disgust with Him.

They asked the disciples, “Why is your Master eating with those people? What kind of spiritual leader is He? Some kind of a holy man? He is hanging out with those sinners.”

How could Jesus possibly be the Messiah when He seemed to be condoning sin?

How could He be the Son of God when He consistently made Himself ceremonially unclean?

When He violated Sabbaths and disrupted Jewish traditions?

He wasn’t the Savior – He was a blasphemer!

If you haven’t done it, you ought to step back some time and examine the way we have used Jesus today.

We have made Him into something He is not.

Jesus never condemned the people that man condemns.

Jesus never drew the boundaries that man draws.

He never evangelized along the lines that we choose to use today.

Race meant nothing to Jesus.

Jesus was not the Savior of the rich or poor or the middle class.

Jesus was not a Republican or a Democrat, and probably would not be either one if He lived today.

We fight over Jesus’ stance on the Ten Commandments in our courts, over prayer in public schools, over abortion rights and all sorts of other social ills.

Jesus sells our t-shirts and bumper stickers, and He only listens to Christian music and reads Christian books.

Jesus is not your homeboy.

He is not your “big daddy in the sky.”

He is the Savior; the Son of God; the holy and righteous Lord of all life.

So as you consider that you were created for communion, don’t get the wrong ideas about Jesus…

You Must Come on His Terms

This wasn’t just a feast for feasting sake.

Jesus was feasting and fellowshipping with men who had accepted His terms of fellowship and the Pharisees were looking in from the outside because they had not.

Now, there are three things that keep people from coming to Jesus and enjoying His presence.

These three things will keep a lost person from accepting Christ, and they will keep a saved person from enjoying Christ.

Ignorance is one.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:3 & 4 that…

“If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

In Romans 10:3, speaking about his fellow Jews, Paul said,

“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

The fact of the matter is that many people are ignorant of the fact that they were created fto have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Ignorant isn’t a bad word – it just means that you don’t know something.

Listen, the people “out there” don’t know they need Christ!

They don’t know they were created for His glory!

They don’t know they were created for communion and fellowship with God.

That’s why it is so important that we tell them.

But listen, it’s not just lost people – multitudes of believers, people who have placed their faith in Christ are ignorant of His desire to enjoy fellowship with them.

They go to church, perform their duty, drop a tithe in the plate and never realize that Christianity is so much more than that.

I believe that this is one of the primary reasons people are not being influenced for Christ today.

If we who do know Christ don’t really know Him or understand what He wants from us, then how can we rightly lead others to Him?

Pride is another thing that keeps people from coming to Christ.

It is the second thing that keeps people away, and it is what the Pharisees were guilty of.

They knew that they were created to be God’s people.

They knew that God wanted to enjoy a relationship with them, but they were so filled with pride they would never experience it.

They thought they were enjoying His presence and His blessings, but in fact they were far from Him.

Listen to their arrogance – “How can your master eat with sinners?”
Jesus responded by saying, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

It was a slap in the face.

Jesus wasn’t saying that there actually were righteous people – only those who thought themselves to be righteous.

The Bible declares emphatically…

“There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

Oh but they thought they were righteous.

They thought that their righteousness was going to impress God and gain His favor.

God surely would be impressed by their dedication and by their law-keeping.

But God is not impressed by pride.

In fact, He hates it.

The very thing these people think will draw them near to God actually drives them farther away from Him.

The third thing is Shame.

The opposite of pride is shame, and it equally keeps people from coming to Christ.

So many are afraid that God cannot accept them because of their sinful past, or because of some thing in their life.

Even believers fall out of fellowship with God because of their sin.

In their guilt and shame they shy away from praying, from coming around.

“God could never forgive me for what I’ve done.”

“How could God want to fellowship with someone like me?”

Tragically, all three of these things keep people from enjoying the communion with Christ that is offered to them.

In fact, some of you are not enjoying fellowship with God because of one of these things.

Pride in any form drives you away.

Shame keeps you away.

But Jesus wants to draw you close to Him today, and here are His terms.

First, Admit Your Need.

I don’t care if you are lost or saved, your greatest need is fellowship and communion with Jesus Christ, but you’ve got to come to the place in your life where you are willing to admit first of all that you have that need, and second of all that Christ will meet that need based on His righteousness and forgiveness, and not on anything you bring to the table.

You see, your goodness doesn’t impress Him one bit, so drop the act.

Your messed up past doesn’t frighten Him away either.

Admit that what you need is healing and restoration from the Father: from the Great Physician.

Salvation and continued abiding fellowship begin with being honest about yourself: about who and what you are.

In these verses we find the fact that Jesus saw a man.

Jesus Christ did not see a publican or a tax collector, nor did He see the color of his skin or this man’s social standing.

He did not see a tax collector, a race, a plumber, a minister, a teacher, or a trash collector.

He did not see occupations or reputations.

The question is whether we can look past all of that in our lives and be honest about our need for a relationship with Him.

Admitting that we have the need is the first step, and it is the biggest step.

It is the hardest step.

We don’t like to admit that something is wrong with us, or that we need something.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like going to the doctor.

When I get sick, I’ll go on for days in denial.

“I don’t feel bad. This will go away in a few days.”

I’ll say things like that and will be on the verge of something serious before I’ll finally give in and go to the doctor.

We might get by with that with our physical bodies, but we can’t afford to do that concerning our spiritual state.

After you admit your need, the next thing is to Accept The Doctor’s Care

After we admit that we need Christ we have to accept the care He offers.

He offers healing for the hurting soul.

He offers restoration for the broken marriage.

He offers forgiveness for the sinful heart.

Perhaps most importantly Christ offers acceptance to you based on His sacrifice on Calvary.

You don’t have to earn God’s acceptance; you don’t have to work for it – just admit you need it and ask for it – and He gives it freely.

Finally, after all that, you must Allow Others To Experience The Same.

Now this is where so many of us have a problem.

Once we find forgiveness and restoration, we forget where we came from.

Now admittedly, when we forget we are revealing that we are not in fellowship with God, but all too often we find ourselves in this boat and like the Pharisees, we stand in amazement at the people who want to come to Christ.

It is very difficult for those who are on the outside to believe that God loves them when we who are inside don’t even like them.

We need to remind ourselves every day that God loves the outsiders, the outcasts, the dregs of society.

Romans 5:8, reminds us that all of us were outsiders until someone told us about Jesus.

It says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Like Jesus, we can issue a call to everyone who cares to listen.

Our testimony should be like that of the woman at the well – “Come meet the man I’ve met…”

This week I read a story about a lady, and I want you to hear it.

The testimony was given by a woman who had come out of a Lesbian lifestyle.

I think her story illustrates what we should be.

One Sunday, this young woman got the urge to go to church.

Since she’d grown up as a Presbyterian, she chose a Presbyterian congregation nearby.

When she and her partner walked in the church door she realized she’d made a big mistake.

The church was full of gray hair, blue hair, or no hair.

It was a small congregation of mostly elderly people with a few middle-aged couples sprinkled in.

She and her partner stood out like two sore thumbs.

But that congregation greeted her with such warmth and acceptance that she was drawn to come back again and again.

She was invited to potluck dinners.

She was urged to join a small group Bible study.

And eventually she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior.

Through her Bible study she came to see her lifestyle as harmful and as sinful.

But she did not leave the Lesbian life right away.

She said the congregation was unfailingly patient with her as --- over and over --- she took two steps forward and one step back.

Her little church family waited and let the Great Physician do His careful work.

Gradually, gently, and with great Mercy, Jesus healed and transformed her --- from the inside out.

Am I suggesting that we should accept everyone to worship with us regardless of their lifestyle?

No, but I am suggesting that all too often we can be guilty of what the Pharisees were doing.

They were performing their religious duties and all the while they were being harsh and condemning of people who were just as spiritually sick as they were.


It has been said that the trouble oftentimes with religious people is that they try to be more spiritual than God himself.

I don’t really know where you stand with Christ today, but I suspect that you know whether you are enjoying the communion with Him that He desires.

Do you delight in His presence?

Or has spiritual pride gotten in the way?

Are you enjoying your relationship with Him?

Or has guilt and shame over some thing in your life separated you from Him?

Have you ever called on Him to save you?


Do you have any questions or comments?

 Benjamin Franklin left behind a small poem about talents: “Hide not your talents, They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?” When it comes to the use of spiritual gifts many people are like a sundial in the shade. If they will but come out into the Light, the Son will make them useful.

Bits & Pieces, Dec. 5, 1996, p. 2

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