Friend of Sinners

Exploring The Question, "What Does It Look Like To Follow Jesus?".

Dan Franklin
Aug 6, 2023    45m
Join us as we explore the question, "What does it look like to follow Jesus?". In the Book of Matthew, we get a glimpse of what it looks like to give up everything and follow Him. There is a cost to discipleship; it is not free, but the benefits are incomparable. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Amy Parker: [00:00:19] Amen. Thanks, you guys. It's good to be in the presence of the Lord. Amen? All right, my name is Amy Parker, and our scripture today comes from Matthew 9 verses 9 through 13, "As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. 10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ a For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” This is God's Word.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:08] Amen. You can grab a seat. So one of the things that we as a family have learned over the years, especially recently, is that if we're going on a trip, driving is a lot more relaxing than flying, and it's not because road trips are super easy, it's because of the packing. When you're packing into a car, you can just throw everything in there. It doesn't even need to be in a bag, when in doubt, you're just sort of like, ah, should we bring this along? Ah, throw it in there, no problem. It's very different when you're packing for a flight, especially if you don't want to pay for checked baggage, which we don't, so we're trying to fit everything we have in bags that will fit into the carry-on holders. And so that means frequently when we're packing, we have to keep coming back to this same question, and that question is, do you need it? The question with the toy is not is it a good toy? Is it a nice toy? Do you enjoy the toy? The question is, do you need it? It'll be there when you get back, but do you absolutely need it on this? Actually one of the greatest inventions that I've enjoyed over the past decade has been the Kindle, because it used to be that when I was going on a trip, even if it was like I'm going to be gone for five days, I would pack like eight different books because when you're going on vacation, you're like, who knows what's going to happen here? And who knows how bummed I'm going to be if I want to read this book, but I don't have access to it? So back in that time when I was packing for a trip, it wouldn't be the question of is this a good book or will I enjoy this book, the question was, do I need it because I have limited space? Do you need those shoes? Do you need that extra sweatshirt? Do you need that extra notebook? Do you need it? And this is the question you ask whenever you're dealing with the whole idea of limitations, we have limited space, we can't pack everything. So the question is not, is the thing that you want to pack something good? The question is, do you need it?

Dan Franklin: [00:03:22] And we ask a question like this for a lot of different circumstances in our lives, whenever we're dealing with limitations. We have limited time, so the question might not be, hey, is that a good activity to do? It's just, is that something you need? Is that something that you're going to prioritize so high that it's going to take time away from other things? We all have limited money, and so the question is not is that an okay thing to buy? It's just, is that high enough on the priority list that you'll not purchase something else to purchase that? Do you need it? That's a question we keep coming back to.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:00] And it's not just in our lives when it comes to our schedule, our time, and our money, it's also a question that eventually we have to ask when it comes to Jesus. So we're in the year 2023, and we're in Southern California, let me just ask a question. Are there people around us who are hostile to Jesus? Yeah, absolutely, there are people that if a conversation comes up about Jesus, they will have a level of hostility. That's not most people, though, most people around us who are not believers in Jesus are not saying, I would never want anything to do with Jesus. For them, the question is not is Jesus good? Is Jesus nice? Is Jesus smart? The question is what? Do I need him? I don't have anything against Jesus, I think it's fine that you like Jesus, but do I need him? That's the question that we come back to. And there might be some of you in here right now that you haven't put your faith in Jesus right now, and honestly, you would say, that's really what I'm dealing with. I don't have some vendetta against Jesus, I've just yet to become convinced that I need him. And for those of us who have placed our faith in him, we still deal with this question. You might think you don't because you might think, no, I came to a point in my life where I realized I did need Jesus and that's why I put my trust in him. But we're still living day in and day out, and we still have to deal with the question, all right, do I need Jesus enough to go to him and get his wisdom? Do I need Jesus enough to go to him to get comfort or help or strength? Is he high enough on the priority list that I'll deprioritize other things that seem good? The question for us as Christians is not even do we believe in Jesus, but do we really believe that we need him? Because if we don't believe that we need him, we're probably not going to draw near.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:02] This question is kind of a variation of the question on the screen. The question, do you need Jesus, is the question at the center of our passage today in Matthew chapter 9, verses 9 through 13. I'm going to share a couple more things, but if you have a Bible, you can go ahead and turn there because that's where we're going to be, Matthew 9 verses 9 through 13.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:23] And we're in the midst of chapters 8 and 9, they sort of go together as a group, as a unit. And I mentioned this last week, but in case you weren't here or in case you don't remember, we're doing something a little bit different now as we move through the rest of the Book of Matthew. So for chapters 1 through 7, we went through every passage, every verse, verse by verse. What we're going to be doing through the rest of the book is that we are going to choose one passage, one specific passage, from each chapter, and we're going to zero in on that and use that as our focus for the day. Just in the same way that last week we were in chapter 8, so we did verses 5 through 13, the story of the Centurion servant being healed. Today we're in chapter 9, we're doing verses 9 through 13, the story of Matthew being called. The reason that we're doing this is because if we went through every single passage in Matthew, just passage by passage, verse by verse, we'd be doing this series for about three years. Which some of you would be like, let's do it for three years. But we feel like, no, we want to get the big picture of Matthew, and we want to continue to progress through it and get the big picture. And so in between the passages, we'll sum up what's going on.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:38] In fact, I'll do that with chapters 8 and 9 right now because, in Matthew 8 and 9, there are really two things going on. The stories go back and forth between one of two themes. One theme is Jesus' miraculous power, in fact, that's the main theme, you see that all throughout chapters 8 and 9. You see Jesus healing a leper. Then you see Jesus healing the Centurion's son from a distance. You see him healing blind people and mute people. You see him casting out demons. You see him calm a storm when they're out on the boat. Throughout Matthew 8 and 9, Matthew, as he's writing this, he is establishing so that none of us have any doubt Jesus is supreme over the physical realm. He can tell the wind and the waves stop and they stop. He is also supreme over the human body because he is able to speak to disease and disease stops. And he's also supreme over the spiritual realm because no matter how long a demon has been tormenting somebody at the word of Jesus, they flee. So Jesus' supremacy over everything is being put on display.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:46] So we see miracles, but the second theme that we see in Matthew 8 and 9 is the theme of discipleship. In other words, what does it look like to follow Jesus? So we really get three main passages that flesh this out. And in chapter 8, we get a passage where Jesus talks about the cost of discipleship, it's not free, you have to leave things behind to follow Jesus. At the very end of Chapter 9, the last passage in chapter 9, Jesus talks about how his disciples are called to go out and be workers for the harvest. Jesus has people that he's saving, and those who follow him are part of doing that work to bring them in. And then the third passage about discipleship is our passage today. Matthew 9 verses 9 through 13, and it's the passage about Jesus calling a disciple to himself, and that's what we're going to focus on now.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:43] In fact, let's focus in on it right now by starting in verse 9, we read, "As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him." So we get the story of Jesus calling a disciple, and just for clarity's sake, when Jesus is calling Matthew here, he's not just calling him to become a Christian, even though that's part of it. He is calling him to be his disciple, to be his student, this is something that first-century rabbis did. And typically it was young men who were already showing a strong propensity to be all about God and to be all about the Torah, and maybe they want to be rabbis themselves one day. Jesus stops to call a disciple and he calls him from a tax collector's booth, and this disciple is named Matthew. Although some of you may know that the story shows up in Mark and Luke, also in both of their gospels, they tell this same story, but the name is not Matthew. Does anybody know what the name is? Yeah, some of you know it, it's the name Levi. But everything else about the story is exactly the same, and so we're left to say this is definitely the same guy, this is definitely the same story that he goes to the tax collector's booth, he calls Matthew here, and he calls Levi in Mark and Luke, and so the clear conclusion is that this is the same guy, Matthew and Levi are the same person.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:20] So some people wonder, why does he have two names? Well, first of all, there are lots of people in the Bible, if you've read the New Testament, this actually happens quite a lot. In fact, Mark, who wrote the Gospel of Mark, shows up in the Book of Acts, and his name in Acts, if you know it is, yeah, John Mark. You have John and you have Mark, so this could be as simple as that, that this is Matthew Levi or Levi Matthew. Some other people think that this is actually a nickname, that maybe he was from the tribe of Levi. And so the disciples just called him Levi, even though his actual name was Matthew, that's possible too, there are nicknames in the Bible. Jesus meets a man named Simon, and what is he nickname him? Yeah, he nicknames him Peter, the Rock, so this happens. So either way, whatever's going on, whether this is a nickname or whether this is just two names, this is clearly the same guy, he stops at a tax collector's booth and he calls Matthew.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:10] He stops at a tax collector's booth. Now let's put two and two together. Why do you think Matthew was sitting at a tax collector's booth? Good job, it's not it's not a trick, it's because he's a tax collector. And I know today we can look at it, and even in 2023, we could say, well, we don't really like tax collectors now. I mean, nobody's excited about hearing from the IRS. So we have this idea in our head, our tax collectors are not popular people, they weren't popular people then, they're not popular people now. Sorry if you work for the IRS, maybe don't tell anyone. I'm just kidding, we welcome tax collectors here, but the idea, yeah, some of you are maybe not...The idea here wasn't just that people might be scandalized by Jesus calling the tax collector because they're like, we don't like paying taxes, he does something, he does a job that we don't like to do. It was that tax collectors were universally, in the first century, they were universally corrupt. They would use their position, and it was expected Rome expected them to use their position to line their own pockets.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:27] Let me pause for a quick story. So right after I graduated from college, me and four friends went to Russia for a couple of months for a long-term mission trip over in Russia. We worked with a missionary, he was driving us around in a certain region in Russia, and the missionary's name was Chad. He got pulled over by the police and we all kind of watched during this traffic stop because it went differently than any traffic stop, we had experienced before. So Chad got out of the car, first of all, he just got out of the car when he got pulled over, which we were like, you don't do that here, we wait at your window for the cop to come. He got out of his car and kind of went right up to the police officer, they talked for a while, they went back and forth, and then eventually Chad came back to the car and we kept driving. And we were sort of like, what just went down? That was weird. And Chad related to us, the conversation that went down between him and the police officer. And I'll kind of give you the sense of how that conversation went, it went like this. So you were speeding. I'm so sorry I was speeding, I didn't realize I was speeding, I shouldn't have been doing that. Well, you were, and so now you need to come down to the station and we're going to give you a fine. You know, I have a lot going on today, and I have a pretty busy schedule, is there any way I can just pay the fine right now? I'm not sure, it might be a pretty big fine, you were going pretty fast. Okay, well, I'd like to pay the fine now, if I could. How much should I pay for this fine? Do you think $50 would be an appropriate amount to pay for this fine? I don't think $50 is enough, you were going pretty fast, and I think the fine is probably going to be more like $100. $100 seems too high for the fine for what I did, maybe the fine should be $70 is the fine $70. I think $70 is closer to what the fine is, maybe $75 is what the fine is. $75 seems like an appropriate amount for the fine. He paid him $75, got back in the car and we drove off. Chad related this story to us and we were like, did you just bribe a police officer? Like what happened, this is the most bizarre thing we've ever heard. This is not the way traffic stops go down here, there's a set amount that you pay, and it's all established. And then if you want to protest it, you can go and ask for a lower fine, but it was so bizarre to hear about this bartering over the fine. The reason that they were bartering over the fine is because that fine wasn't going any further than that police officer's pocket, it was going in there and it was going to stay there. So his approach was to figure out how much can I get out of this traffic stop. It was all negotiable, that's why at a traffic stop like that, you don't ask how much the fine is, because if you ask how much the fine is, they ask how much you got. They want to squeeze as much as possible. And he just explained to us, like that it's a bribe of sorts, that's the way things just are here. This is the way every police officer, every time you get pulled over, this is just the way that it goes, this is just the kind of corruption that happened with the police officers in this region of Russia at that time.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:49] Now, that is some sort of picture of what the corruption was like for tax collectors. The idea wasn't that the Israelites would say, hey, you got to watch out because there are some corrupt tax collectors. The tax collectors as a whole just were corrupt. They'd be collecting taxes from you, and they'd be like $50 for Rome and another $20 for me, $65 for Rome and another $15 for my pocket. That's how they made money, and so they were well off. And not only did the Jewish people not like them because they were corrupt, they didn't like them because these were Jewish people who had sided with Rome, with the occupying power, and were in cahoots with them to rob their own countrymen. Tax collectors were not popular people, and yet Jesus stops and calls a tax collector from his booth. This is shocking.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:51] And what's almost as shocking is the way that Matthew responds because look at the very end of verse 9, "And Matthew got up and followed him." Now, Matthew is the only tax collector disciple of Jesus that we know about. A lot of Jesus' disciples had other jobs, in fact, what's the job that comes up the most? Yeah, fishermen comes up the most. Now, there's a sense in which the fishermen left their jobs, but it was only in this sense, it was that their fishing was deprioritized. There still are stories of them going out on their boats and catching fish because if you're traveling around with Jesus, you can still have a free day where you go out, get some fish, sell them, and make a little bit of money. Matthew did not have that option; Matthew couldn't follow Jesus around and then just go back and collect some taxes whenever he had some free time. When Matthew leaves the tax collector's booth, he is leaving his job. One commentator was saying that I was reading this week was saying that Matthew probably left behind more than any other individual disciple of Jesus. He had a lucrative job and he left it behind. And whether or not Matthew said anything out loud, this is kind of the internal dialog that I imagine with Matthew when he got called. Matthew is looking at his job, and here's the question he asks about his job, do I need it? I mean, it's making me a good living, it's keeping me protected, I'm richer than all the other Jews because I'm in here with Rome, but do I need it? And then he looked at Jesus and you know what question he asked? Do I need him? Do I need this miracle worker? Do I need this possible Messiah? Do I need this Savior? He looked at his job and he looked at Jesus and he decided that Jesus was more important than anything that he would be leaving behind. This is a powerful story, and it illustrates the idea that Jesus has already talked about earlier in chapter 8. Which is if we are going to follow Jesus, it requires us to leave some things behind because Jesus is that much of a priority. Jesus calls Matthew, and Matthew leaves behind his job to follow Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:17] And that's actually just the start of this story because something happens right afterward in verses 10 and 11. In verse 10 we read, "While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples." For Matthew, this is a little bit of a world-colliding party going on here. Matthew is like, I have some new friends, I have Jesus in my life right now. Jesus has a lot of disciples, they're now basically my coworkers. He invites them all to a party at his house, but he invites his new friends, and he also invites his old friends. So we got Jesus and his disciples, we've got tax collectors and sinners.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:00] And this brings up a problem that the Pharisees expose in verse 11, it says, "When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And it would be easy for us today to say, what are these guys so worked up about? It's just a meal. Like it doesn't say Jesus was getting drunk, and it doesn't say that he was suddenly becoming corrupt, he's just eating a meal. What's the big deal with a meal? Well, if you've ever gone to high school before, you know that it can be a big deal who you eat with. It can be a big deal to get invited to eat with a certain group of people. And sometimes people get mad when they're like, hey, who said you could invite that guy to come eat with our group? We've all experienced this, and even as adults, sometimes there are still instances where we experience this. We're eating with somebody, especially going to their house, makes a signal about belonging to that group.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:09] Beyond that, in our culture, we recognize the power of association. I don't know if you've noticed, but with people, photographs that are 10, 15, or 25 years old have been dug up from people who had a meal with a now controversial figure, and they have been canceled over these sorts of things. So even today, we can say, what's the big deal, it's just a meal? We still do this, we still have this sense of if you're associated with them, then you're in with them. And for the Pharisees, they're saying if you're at Matthew's house eating with tax collectors and sinners, that is like an implicit endorsement of their lifestyle. And don't miss that it says he wasn't just eating with tax collectors, he was eating with tax collectors and sinners.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:00] Now, this is hard for us to understand today because the popular way that we use the word sinners today is just to refer to the fact that we all sin. So we're like, we all sin. So we're all sinners. So it seems weird that they're talking about a certain set of people as sinners. And here's what's going on here, there's very little evidence that the Pharisees thought some people sinned and others didn't. They probably wouldn't have said, I never sin as a Pharisee, but they were categorizing certain people as sinners.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:35] Let me give you an illustration. I sometimes run; I do. I sometimes run. If you had a video of my life like 24 hours a day, you would be able to pinpoint times when I run. When it's this hot during the summer the most frequent example might be if I'm taking something out to the outside trash can, and I want to really quickly get back inside to the AC, I might run that 25ft back inside. So sometimes I run, you definitely can find me sometimes running. Am I a runner? I am not a runner. Some of you are runners, God help you, you like to run, you do it by choice, and you even claim to enjoy it, the rest of us aren't sure we believe you. You are a runner. But, Dan, you run, therefore you're a runner. Well, I run occasionally, sometimes accidentally, but it's not something that marks me, it's not something that identifies me. This is what's going on with sinners. The Pharisees are saying, we're not just saying these guys that you're with, that they sometimes mess up, that they sometimes stumble in sin, we are saying these are the people in our society who are marked by living sinful lifestyles. They're loud and they're proud about it, they're not even hiding it, these are the corrupt judges in our culture, and everybody knows about it. These are the pimps and the prostitutes in our culture, and everybody knows it. These are the drunkards in our culture. These are the people who aren't just occasionally sinning, they are marked by their sin, they are sinners. And so they have to ask the question, Jesus, why in the world would you share a table with corrupt tax collectors and with people marked by sin?

Dan Franklin: [00:25:35] Jesus has an answer for them, and it's in the final verse it's probably the most important verses of this passage, verses 12 and 13," On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." This statement actually is where we get one of the nicknames for Jesus, that he sometimes is called the Great Physician, the Great Doctor. Does anybody in here today, I'm not going to ask you any specifics, does anybody here today feel like you could use a little treatment from doctor Jesus? You're just like, yeah, actually, I could use some help from him because I'm feeling guilt or shame or hurt or trials. He's the Great Physician. He says it's not the healthy who need a doctor. it's the sick who need a doctor. And then he says, "But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice."

Dan Franklin: [00:26:29] We'll come back to this a little bit later, he's quoting from Hosea, this is Hosea 6:6 if you want to look it up later. Jesus here is, I think, being a little bit snarky. You notice how he introduced this quote, "Go learn what this means. He's talking to the religious scholars of his age saying maybe you need to go back and read your Bible and actually learn what it means. Go learn what this means, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. And that's God talking, and God actually clearly did want sacrifice because he set up a whole sacrificial system. But he's saying, you know what's even more important to me than sacrifice. Do you know what's even more important to me than ritual? It's mercy, and it's compassion. and the Pharisees are showing none of that. He says, "I'd rather have mercy than sacrifice." And finally, he says, for I have not come to call the righteous but sinners. Here's the crux of the whole passage, this final statement, "For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Dan Franklin: [00:26:29] Now, in some ways, if you were one of the sinners, one of the labeled sinners in this group right now, you might not initially feel like this is the best thing Jesus could have said. Today, what we would hope for Jesus to say is that the Pharisees look, and they say there are sinners in there and that Jesus would respond in saying, you guys are wrong, they're not sinners, that's what we would want today. Because you feel bad if you're called a sinner, you don't feel good about yourself. So our solution today to our sin is to assure ourselves that we're not sinners, we just feel better about that.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:24] Let me give you another quick illustration. So this happened when I was back in seminary, I was taking a counseling class and what they asked us to do, they had us pair up with somebody else in the class and they said, all right, bring up a sort of like an emotional or a personal problem that you're having and then kind of talk it through with this other person just to practice with each other. So the problem that I brought up with my partner is I said, you know what, I've always felt like I'm just a very average person. And so sometimes I wonder, like, does God actually really care about me? Because I feel like it's nothing about me that really stands out, I'm just very, very average. And my partner and I were talking about this, and the professor came over and listened to us for a while and then she decided to insert herself in the conversation. Now, here's what I want to say, what she said was definitely well-intentioned, and for some of you, you might be like, that would have been meaningful for somebody to say this to me. I'm just going to tell you; it did not land for me. So I'm bringing up this problem, my problem is I don't know, I have a hard time believing God really cares about me because I feel very average. Here's what she said, she said, I've always thought that God must care a lot about average people because he made so many of them. Now, once again, some of you might be like, that was a great thing to say. I'm not even saying it wasn't a great thing to say, I'm saying it's not what I wanted to hear. What she basically said is, yeah, yeah, you're right, nothing remarkable here. Like you look pretty average to me, but the good news, God loves average people. What did I want her to say? I wanted to say no, are you kidding me? Dan, you're not average, Dan, you are remarkable, there are all these amazing things about you, that's what my heart was longing for. Instead, I got the news. yeah, you’re average, but don't worry, it's okay.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:27] The reason I bring this up is because there's a sense in which you could imagine Jesus' words coming across like this a little bit to the sinners. That they're there and there's this crisis moment, and they hear the Pharisees grumbling and saying, why are you eating with these sinners? And they're like, here's the moment where Jesus stands up for us. And he says, well, these sinners are the reason I came. He doesn't say they're not sinners. Now, here's the deal with me talking about seminary Dan being bothered by that teacher saying that here's what maybe would have been the difference if it was a little bit fleshed out. What might have made the difference is if we came to the reality of her saying, you know, Dan, I don't know that you will ever be famous. I don't know that you'll ever be a television star. I don't know that you'll ever be a published author. I don't know that you'll ever have the sort of the accolades of fame that would convince you that you are not average. But what I want you to know is that God made you uniquely in his image and He loves you deeply for who you are, whether or not you ever become famous. Now, that's probably what she was trying to say, that would have landed, because that would have convinced me that even if in my own eyes and nobody else's eyes, I'm ever remarkable, I am still loved.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:51] Here is Jesus, and he doesn't say these guys aren't sinners. Some of them would have been like, have you spent any time with us? Like, are you kidding me? Like, we know this, we know this about ourselves, we know that we're sinners, we know that we're broken. Maybe some of them didn't, maybe some of them thought they were the winners of society. But at least Matthew knew he was a sinner, he didn't have any qualms about that. The people who are offended by this idea are the people who don't think they're sinners. The people who aren't offended by this idea are the people who are already convinced that they are. And this all comes down to the crisis that Jesus is bringing us to, which is that the only people...Oh, I'm sorry, I'll come back to that in a second. The only people who find Jesus are those who are already convinced that they need him. Matthew leaves behind his tax collector's booth and everything that goes along with it because he is convinced he needs Jesus. But anybody offended by Jesus calling them sinners would have only revealed that they were not yet convinced that they really needed him.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:03] You know, I think today we have other versions of the people that we kind of classify as sinners. We might not use the same terminology, but we all sort of know like, all right, there's people in society that we would say, well, yeah, they sinned, they're not perfect. But there would be other people that would categorize, where we are like their life is marked by sin, their life is marked sometimes by loud sin and unapologetic sin. There are certain people, for us, that we might put in categories that we might even consider to be a lost cause.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:37] And one of the things that's really sad to me, over the fact that questions about sexuality and homosexuality are such just a flashpoint in our culture is that for a church like us, we end up in a weird scenario. And the scenario is that we say, well, we're not going to say that something is not sin. A lot of people in our society want us to say, all right, homosexual activity is not sinful, that's what they want us to say. Like, people will feel better, so just say that, just tell them they're not doing anything wrong. And we're sort of like, well, we're not going to do that, we're not going to think that we're smarter than God. We're not going to say something he hasn't said, and we're not going to contradict something that he said, so we're not going to do that. We are going to stay strong and say, no, we believe that that is sin. The sad thing is when that's all the conversation that we have, we don't end up getting to say the much more important reality, which is if you are in that sin or any sin, you are who Jesus came for. Jesus came for the sick. Now, once again, if we look at that and we say, I'm offended that you're calling me sick, you're not going to come to Jesus. You're not going to come to Jesus unless you recognize that you need him.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:53] But what I want you to know is that right now, some of you are fighting secret battles and you're afraid to let anybody know about it, it might have something to do with sex, it might have something to do with something else. And you're like, if they knew, I would never be welcomed. What I want you to know, one of the greatest things about this passage is that this tells us Jesus saw you at your absolute worst, he saw you when you were an undeniable sinner. And that's when he came for you, that's when he died for you, that's when he rose to open up the gates of eternal life for you. So you never have to wonder if Jesus will welcome a sinner like you because you're who he came for. And what I want you to know is that at this church, we will strive to reflect the attitude of Jesus. We all are sinners saved by grace. Thank God Jesus welcomes sinners. Can I get an amen on this? And thank God Jesus welcomes sinners. Thank God that he sees us at our absolute worst, and he doesn't say, do some work on that, he welcomes us. Jesus sees us as sinners, and he says you are exactly who I came for. And if we respond in pride, we'll miss out on Jesus. But if we embrace that we need him, we get in on everything that He has to offer.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:26] Now, let me go back for a moment, because there's another application of this, I want to make sure that we don't miss. This word that he says to the Pharisees when he says, "God desires mercy over sacrifice." is a rebuke toward their attitude. In other words, he's kind of saying to the Pharisees, you know what, you should be hanging out with these guys. Long before I showed up, you should have been spending time with these tax collectors and sinners. Now, some of us misunderstand, there are some people who take the fact that Jesus did this and they translate it really crassly almost into, like, Jesus liked to party, I like to party. Jesus liked to hang out with a rough crowd, I like to hang out with a rough crowd, I'm very Jesus-like in the people that I hang out with. That is a misread on what's going on, do you know who Jesus spent the vast majority of his time with? With his disciples, with people who had embraced the path of faith that he was calling people to. But he wasn't intimidated to go on the turf of sinners, the turf of people who were lost.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:29] But as Luke brings out, in this same exact story, there are two words added on to the end of this statement, "I've come not for the righteous, but for sinners." When Luke records the story, he adds in, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Which Matthew is not avoiding, he's implying that. In fact, Matthew in this story is the example of the repentant person who leaves behind his old lifestyle to come follow Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:59] So the reason I bring this up is because some of you right now are like, well, is there ever a time where there's somebody that I do need to break off ties with old friends or with an old group because that's the group that I used to drink heavily with, or that's the group that I used to do corrupt things with. And the answer is, yes, sometimes there does need to be separation there, sometimes there needs to be an appropriate break. In fact, Matthew, he's still spending time with the tax collectors and sinners right here. But when he's following Jesus around, there's not as much time for that. So there is a time for someone to say, all right, I need to make sure that the primary people that I'm with are the people who are following Jesus. But Jesus also shows that that's not to the exclusion of saying who are the lost people that God has brought into my life and how can I be the light of Jesus with them?

Dan Franklin: [00:38:52] Some of us need to make sure that we're careful that we still want the lost people that God has placed in our lives to come to know Him, because maybe some of us just want them to stop bothering us. Maybe some of us are just annoyed by them. Maybe some of us are put off because of their behavior and we're thinking more about our own discomfort than the fact that Jesus came to save sinners. We got in on that, and now Jesus is inviting us to be a part of spreading the light to others. So I want you to pause, this is going to come into something that we do in a minute. I want you to pause right now, and I want you to think, who are the sinners that you're not so sure you want to come to Jesus? Maybe they're on the other side of the aisle politically and you're like, based on what they believe, based on what they stand for, they can stay where they are, you're not praying for them to come to faith in Jesus. Maybe it's people who talk a certain way. Maybe it's people who wave a certain flag. Maybe it's people who behave in ways that make you feel uncomfortable, and maybe it's even appropriate that you would feel uncomfortable with sin. Has your heart hardened to the point that you would rather be away from the sinners God has called you to reach? Not only do we get to rejoice in this passage and the fact that you have been seen at your worst and you are still loved, but we also get to rejoice that God wants us to follow the example of Jesus by loving the lost people in our lives rather than being bothered by them to say That's exactly who Jesus came to save.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:40] So here's what we're going to do, in a minute, we are going to respond by praying by name for the people that God has brought into our lives, for us to shine the light to them. You know, totally on his own, a couple of weeks ago, when Andy was up here leading us in group prayer, he led us to get into groups and pray by name for the non-Christians in our lives that we're praying for God to save. And it was funny afterward because he hadn't coordinated with me at all, and I was like, oh gosh, like that was such a great thing to do. It would have been perfect in like two more weeks when we're getting together and we're actually talking about this, like, it would have been perfect for that Sunday, it's too bad we can't do the same thing twice, that would just be bad. We wouldn't want to pray for unbelievers twice, like in close proximity. All right, you get where this is going, we're going to do the same thing twice. In a minute, you're going to get up and gather with 3 to 4 probably groups of really no more than five people around you. You don't need to introduce yourself; you don't need to get everybody's prayer requests, you can just start praying in Jesus' name for the names of the people that God has placed you around, that they would find Jesus, that they would know that they need Jesus, and that God would change your heart if need be so that you want them to come to Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:42:03] After we've prayed in groups for a couple of minutes, I will close our time and bring us back together. But just go ahead and stand up right now. Be bold. Don't hesitate. Jump right in there with the people around you and let's lift up prayers for the people God has placed into our lives.

Dan Franklin: [00:42:22] Father God, I want to thank you right now, there are literally hundreds of names that have been lifted up to you right in this moment. You know every name you heard, every name, and you sent your son to die for, every one of those names. Thank you that you love sinners. Thank you that you've seen us at our lowest point, you've seen us at our worst, and you love us desperately. You didn't come to us when we were put together, you came to us when we were lost sinners. Father, please keep us grateful and humble and joyful and secure in knowing that we are simply sinners saved by Your grace. Father, give us the joy in that and give us the joy in getting to be your hands and feet to the people you've placed us around. Give us patience with people who aren't living how they should live, remembering that we are sinners saved by grace. And give us compassion, remembering that you reached out to us with your compassion and they're no less deserving of it than we are. And Father, I pray that many of the people whose names we've just lifted up, that we would get later on to tell the stories of how you brought them to yourself, how you brought more into the family, by us simply doing the small things that you've called us to do, and by you breaking through our hard hearts, by the power of your Spirit. We lift all this up to you in the name of our Savior Jesus. Amen. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:44:03] Well, I'm going to close our time now. I'm just going to read a couple of verses as a benediction over us to close our time. Romans Chapter 5, verses 6, 7, and 8, let me read this over us, and then we'll finish our service with this, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Amen? Amen. God bless you the rest of this Sunday.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848