Call to Sinners

The Gospel of Mark – Part 9

Call to Sinners – Mark 2:13-17

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Aug. 25th, 2019

*Due to technical difficulties, the MP3 of the sermon is not available. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please refer to the YouTube video to obtain the audio.


  • Jesus was continuing to fulfill the mission of His Father by calling people to repent and believe the good news. He taught with authority and His authority was confirmed with all kinds of miracles and with the commanding of unclean spirits. The more He ministered, the more His fame spread throughout the land and the more resistance He received by the professional religious.  
  • In the first event in chapter 2, Jesus forgives sin and heals a paralytic who was let down through the roof because of four friends full of faith. This morning we will look at the next passage where we will learn profound truths about the heart of God through the ministry of Jesus.  
  • Here is the message in one sentence: “Because of God’s mercy, Jesus calls sinners to repent and follow Him.”This sentence came about from the blending of our passage (Mark 2:13-17) with the two other recordings of this event in Matt. 9:9-13 and Luke 5:27-32. The main expansion of the recording for this event is in the last verses of the two other passages. We are going to read the full passage from Mark, and then compare the last verse with the last verses recorded in Matthew and Luke. 

Mark 2:13-17 ESV
He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

Matt 9:12-13 ESV
But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

Luke 5:31-32 ESV
And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

The mercy of God

  • Mercy is a word that has to do with justice.  It is not giving to the offenders what they deserve.  God desires mercy over sacrifice and He will extend mercy to those who repent and call out to Him for it. 
  • Because God is merciful, He calls out to His creation that has become utterly sinful.  If God was not merciful, all would experience His judgment.  But because of the mercy of God, He call out to Sinners.  We are all in dept to the mercy of God, and all of us need His mercy.  The mercy of God was extended through the ministry of Jesus.  

The ministry of Jesus 

  • At this point in His ministry, people were coming to Him from all around.  Large crowds gathered and He taught them.  As Jesus was traveling, He came across a man named Levi (who we know as Matthew – he is called Matthew in Matt. 9). It was not surprising that Jesus called people to follow Him, but what was surprising is who Jesus called to follow Him.  
  • The shocking and scandalous thing about the calling of Levi is that he was a “tax collector.” Tax collectors were despised in that day, and here is why: 
    • Rome invaded and took over the land of Israel. Because of this, the Jewish people were under their rule and their authority. They had to, therefore, pay taxes to Rome. The Romans split the land in various regions (think of counties) and required a certain amount of taxes to be paid from each county and they needed the taxes to be collected.  The people who were appointed “tax collectors” could charge what they wanted as long as they paid to Rome what it required. This was an easy way to get rich by using their government position and authority to overcharge people on their taxes and keep the remainder for themselves. People paid to be put into this position and were hated for it.  What was even worse was that it was their fellow Jews who were taking advantage of them and “aiding the enemy” (think occupied France by the Germans or if Russia took us over).  These tax collectors were especially hated by the Jewish people. 
  • So when Jesus called Levi to follow Him, this was scandalous, as he was a hated sinner. And yet He did so, and Levi left his position to follow Him.
  • Now, the story gets worse. Not only did Jesus call Levi to follow Him, He went over to his house that evening for a dinner party with Levi, his family and all of his “sinner” friends.  And you can imagine who Levi’s friends were: fellow tax collectors, outcasts,  and those people who hung out with them because of either the power or money.  These were the “sinners.” And Jesus was spending time with “them.”  
  • Well, the religious folks took notice at who Jesus was spending time with and they were indignant – “Why is Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners?” This was not just “ministering” to them but giving them special privilege of having close access to them and accepting them for a meal. And when the question was asked of Jesus, He responded this way:

And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17 ESV)

  • The doctor goes to the sick, the firefighter goes to the fire, we are to go to those who need us the most.  And Jesus was doing the same. He came to call sinners, not to those who are “righteous.” He comes to those who know they need help, he comes to those who know they are lost and powerless without Him. 
  • Now it is important to note about the people that Jesus did go to. There are two groups of the “righteous” – the legalistic righteous and the liberalistic righteous. The legalistic righteous are those who they are good enough or good people. They are “righteous” by their behavior and don’t consider themselves to be a “sinner” and in need of mercy. The liberalistic righteous think that that there is no real moral code or standard. So there really is no sin and there will not be a judgment or penalty for the trespass. If people think they are “righteous,” they will not receive the mercy of God.  

The message of hope 

  • The message of hope is given to sinners that there is mercy. And because there is mercy we are to repent and follow Jesus. We are to turn from our wicked ways and follow in the footsteps of Jesus. This is the message of hope and this is the good news! 
  • We are now the recipients and the messengers of this message of hope. In our ministry we are to walk like Christ and live as a Christian.
  • The Christian life is not to be lived in isolation, nor in assimilation, but for transformation.This is how you are to live as a Christian. This is how you live a life “worthy of the calling” (Eph. 4:1). 


  • Know that God is merciful and gives mercy to those who repent and follow after Him. 
  • Understand that you are a sinner and that you are in need of mercy.  Live in humility.
  • Live your life not in isolation, nor in assimilation, but live for the transformation of people’s lives.
  • God to those who know that they are sinners, communicate the good news in Jesus Christ.