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  • Justin Dosch

Mark: S1 E8 - Heaven Belongs To The Humble

Resource: Lead Pastor Justin Dosch

Topic: Heaven Belongs To The Humble


So, here’s something I know about you, your pride has gotten you in more trouble than anything else in your life. And I know that because, MY PRIDE has gotten me in more trouble than anything else in MY life. And here’s the crazy thing about pride; while almost no one thinks they are prideful, almost everyone is. And the reason it’s so difficult to be honest with ourselves about, is because pride knows no limits in the way it manifests itself in people. For some it comes out in arrogance, believing we are never wrong. For others it’s a simple refusal to ever accept help. For others still there there’s this subtle looking down on anyone who doesn’t think or act the way they do. The truth is, pride is at the root of every sin in our life and what God has been reminding me of lately is if there is one thing that will keep me from growing, mess up my relationships, make me selfish and ultimately destroy my soul, it’s PRIDE. And that’s why if there is one thing Jesus is after in our lives more than anything else it’s HUMILITY. And that’s what I want to unpack today as we continue our series in the amazing gospel of Mark.


When we last saw Jesus we found him healing a paralyzed man in front of a packed house of would be followers. His legend is growing and it’s getting to the point where he can no longer teach in Capernaum or any other major town because of the ensuing mobs. And so we pick up in Mark 2:13 with Mark telling us this;


13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. 15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:13-17


Let’s break this down. Mark tells us, 13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.


Jesus, forced to teach on the outskirts of town heads out to the Sea of Galilee to preach. After teaching all day He and the disciples are no doubt tired and hungry and they’re walking back into Capernaum, most likely to share a meal and rest for the evening at Peter’s home. But along the way Jesus sees a man sitting at the “tax collector’s booth.” Picture a small box with bars on it, just large enough for a man to stand in, where people would come to pay their taxes to Rome. That’s when Jesus does something that would have sent shockwaves through the crowd of people following him back into the city. He calls out to this tax collector and beckons him to come and follow him. Now to fully understand why this would have been so stunning and scandalous we need context. Mark tells us that the tax collector's name is Levi, a Jewish man who is better known by his Greek name, Matthew. Yes, the same Matthew who would one day write the gospel of Matthew.


In those days Rome ruled the world. They had conquered much of Asia and Northern Africa including Israel. And like most oppressive superpower they required all people under their jurisdiction to pay taxes. In order to insure that no taxes were ever missed, they employed a man by the name of Herod Antipas to oversee the collection in Israel. And Herod in turn used a system of selling tax collection franchises, (think McDonalds!) to the highest bidder. Once a franchisee began collecting they had to meet a minimum quota for Rome, and then anything extra they could pocket for themselves. In typical fashion there were taxes on everything from roads to goods and services etc. And so what the tax collectors would do is use faulty scales to rig the system and force people to pay more than they actually owed. If someone couldn’t pay they would loan money out at exorbitant rates and then send out “thugs” to collect if they defaulted on the loans. I imagine them sounding like a New Yorker saying, “Eh, Matthew says if you don’t pay up I gotta break your thumbs.” And so, as a tax collector in a large city it would have been an incredibly lucrative business and Matthew would have been a very wealthy man.


But, it would have come at a great personal cost. Because they were Jewish citizens working for Rome they were seen as traitors. Afterall, they were lining their pockets off the backs of their own people and essentially supporting the evil empire. They were hated by their own people, ostracized by family, barred from synagogue and treated with the same regard as murderers and thieves. And so while they were rich in money, homes, chariots and clothes their souls were in great poverty. The bottom line? Everyone knew who Matthew was and he would have been one of the most hated men in Capernaum and seen as the worst of sinners. NO ONE would ever invite a tax collector to hang out with them, let alone be their student. But Jesus was all about blowing up stereotypes and causing scenes, and he was about to cause a big one. When Jesus looks at Matthew, He sees him differently. He sees a man deeply distressed by the weight of his sin and ready to repent. How do we know this? Matthew’s response is simple but powerful; Mark says he got up IMMEDIATELY and FOLLOWED. There was absolutely no hesitation because he is READY. Weighed down by guilt and shame, he is ready to leave behind all he had accumulated; his money, his position and his comforts to follow Christ. In an he trades the tax booth to follow THE teacher. Instantly everything that consumed his heart; money, position and worldly possessions, no longer did. Instead, Jesus now captivated His heart. Why? Because Jesus offered him what no one else could; forgiveness, acceptance and a fresh start.


But if that weren’t enough Jesus takes things a step further, and really causes a scene.Mark tells us next that, 15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.


Immediately after Matthew responds to the call of Jesus he throws a big ‘ole party to celebrate his new life and the forgiveness he’s found in Christ. And who does he invite? Every sinner in town! All of his fellow tax collecting buddies and all their cronies. And this wasn’t just a little gathering. Mark tells us there were MANY tax collectors and sinners. Matthew immediately turns his house (which must have been huge by the way) into a place for sinners to come and meet Jesus!

Imagine the scene; Jesus and his disciples, who are supposed to be righteous, are in Matt’s house surrounded by all the “lowlifes” (murderers, con artists, adulterers, prostitutes) just hanging out and enjoying a meal together. Some translations say he “reclined,” which means he was very comfortable. He wasn’t just sitting and having a formal meal or discussion. He was LOUNGING and enjoying himself. He was comfortable around sinners.


What’s amazing is that Mark tells us “there were many who followed him.” In other words people were getting saved left and right. A little revival breaks out and Matthew’s house turns into a hospital for sinners. The incredible grace of God is doing its thing. But sadly, not everyone was celebrating. Because Mark goes on to tell us this, 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”


Cue dramatic music, wherever Jesus is the Pharisees aren’t far behind, stalking his every move. Waiting to catch him doing something they can put him on death row for. They have no doubt heard about Jesus calling Matthew and have shown up to see what the deal is. And when they arrived they would have been stunned. Jesus is eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners! That might not be a big deal to us, but eating and drinking with sinners in those days would have been appalling to the Pharisees. The dine with sinners meant you were FRIENDS with those sinners. It symbolized acceptance. Up until this point Jesus was just teaching sinners, but this was different. The Pharisees would never be caught dead dining with sinners because they prided themselves on not associating with “those people.” And so a self-righteous rage welled up inside of them. They can’t contain themselves. And as the party is winding down and people are starting to leave they grab some disciples and vehemently ask, “what’s up with your rabbi!?” And in the way only Jesus can, Jesus calls them out!

Mark tells us, 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”


The bottom line is that the Pharisees prided themselves on their good works. They truly believed that what they did made them better than everyone else. Especially people like tax collectors. But what they cannot see is that their pride is blinding them to the truth; they are SICK. And Jesus calls them out with a simple but profound illustration. Sick people need to go to the doctor, but if someone doesn’t believe they’re sick they will never go. Like a person who already has cancer in their body and doesn’t realize it yet these religious elites are sick with sin and they can’t see it. Jesus is saying; “you are all spiritually sick! And until you admit that and seek help you’re going to keep on being sick, and eventually it’s going to take your life. What Jesus is ultimately attacking is their PRIDE. Jesus is ready and willing to heal them of their spiritual sickness but they refuse to believe they have a problem, and because of that he can’t help them. The great tragedy is that the Pharisees can not see that they are no different than the tax-collectors. In fact, they are WORSE off, because at least the tax collectors know they need help. The Pharisees are so upset that Jesus would associate with sinners. To them it is a disgrace. But nothing could be further from the truth. In the same way that it’s not a disgrace for a doctor to associate with ill patients who are in desperate need of care, it’s not a disgrace for Jesus to associate with sinners in desperate need of salvation.


So, what can we learn from all this? That’s really the question. I want to leave you with one thing; HEAVEN belongs to the HUMBLE. The NUMBER ONE most important quality that any person can have is humility. Why? Because EVERYTHING GOOD that God wants for us is unlocked by it.


Starting with the lavish grace of God.

Let’s compare and contrast Matthew and the Pharisees. On the one hand you have Matthew, the sinner of sinners. Lost and hopeless. He has lived a life that pleases himself and is headed for destruction. And yet because he humbly turned to Christ, Jesus was willing to forgive him in an instant. The Pharisees on the other hand, thought they had it all together and were good to receive the kingdom of heaven. But their pride would keep them from ever experiencing it. The difference between the two was not who was a “better person” but who was HUMBLE. The amazing truth about this is that the greater the sinner, the greater God’s glory gets put on display when they are redeemed. The greater the sin Jesus has to pull us out of the more his grace shines. So as the apostle Paul says, “I boast in my weakness.” I boast in the fact that I was a wretched sinner and that Jesus saved me from myself.


But it also unlocks growth.

Whether we realize it or not, true life change only happens when we admit that we need to grow. Let’s make this super practical. If I lack humility I will;

  1. Never be teachable. Because after all, I already have all the answers. A great question to ask ourselves is this, how defensive do I get when someone calls me out? If we can’t take criticism we can’t grow.

  2. Believe I am better than others and will treat them accordingly. People who think they’re better than others will never show them grace. They will never love them well because they’ll constantly be on their high horse thinking they need to get it together. This is a relationship killer. It kills love.

  3. Selfishly believe life is all about me because I am so special. I got news for you. You’re not that special! Are you valued and loved greatly by God? YES! But in the grand scheme of things you are not any more special than anyone else. When I believe I am more important than others I will never serve others. It kills our impact.

  4. Believe everything I have I’ve earned, and is therefore mine to consume. Pride kills generosity. We won’t ever give anything away because we really think we deserve everything we have. This is one of the things I love so much about Matthew’s testimony. The moment he encountered Jesus and laid down his pride it completely changed his lifestyle. He went from accumulating for himself to using his resources for the kingdom.

So, here’s a challenging question for us to chew on today; Where in my life do I have pride that needs to be dealt with? My challenge to you, ask God to expose it. Ask God to deal with it. Lay it down at the foot of the cross where our savior chose the ultimate act of humility. And watch what happens in your life. Rooting and praying for you today!


 

Want to know more about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus? We would love to talk with you! No matter where you are at in your journey, you are welcomed here. Check out our visit us page to see what to expect during our Sunday Celebrations. If you simply have more questions, whether about this message or Jesus, OR if you feel you are ready to take the leap and receive salvation through faith, then reach out to us via the contact form or at info@truenorthpgh.org.


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