Pursuing Sinners

Tom Pennington |

June 12, 2018


Do you follow Christ’s example in purposely pursuing social interaction with unbelievers to seek their repentance?

A Disciple’s Mission

In Mark 2:13-17, we read that shortly after Matthew became a follower of Christ, he held a dinner at his house in Capernaum. It was a huge party, and there were many tax collectors and sinners invited. Many of them had a real interest in Jesus. Some were apparently beginning to follow Him.

Matthew invited all his former colleagues and friends because he was on a mission to introduce them to Christ. He hosted this party as a spontaneous expression of his joy, since he had come to the knowledge of his Messiah. He wanted to honor Jesus, and he wanted his friends to meet Jesus, his new Master.

But as you would expect, there were critics. Many religious leaders had legalistic objections to what Jesus was doing. The scribes said to Jesus’ disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” The word “sinners” could mean simply those who fail to keep their interpretations of the Law, or it may include those who were truly morally corrupt. Jesus was eating with Matthew, Matthew’s dinner guests, as well as His own disciples. The scribes wondered, “Why would He eat with these people if He was, in fact, a Holy Man?” This was a major issue to the scribes. But in Jesus’ mind, these people were sick and needed a doctor, spiritually speaking. They needed to repent.

Powerful Lessons

Do you intentionally make time with unbelievers to make known the gospel of Christ, or do you worry about how doing so might be viewed by your fellow believers? Jesus came on a mission. That was Jesus’ perspective, and we thank God for that.

In fact, this is the heart of the good news. Jesus only extends help to those who know they are sick, to those who know they need a doctor, to those who know that they are spiritually desperate. To desperate sinners, Jesus becomes the bread of life and water of life.

If you know you are a sinner, and if you are willing to turn from your sin and believe in Him, this is how Jesus will respond to you. The same way He responded to Matthew and to Matthew’s friends.

In the future, the day is coming when Jesus the Messiah will sit down with sinners to whom He has extended grace at a great feast in the presence of the Father. When sinners like us will sit down with Jesus. He will forever be a friend of sinners – not sinners still committed to their sin, but sinners He has called to repentance and redeemed.

Jesus, what a friend of sinners! Are you?