October 20, 2017

Grace for Sinners

Mark 2:13-17

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

—  Mark 2:17

Most of us would rather be around people like ourselves. We feel most comfortable with those who look like us, think like us, talk like us, act like us, and more. We tend to avoid people who are different from us, especially if they have a questionable moral character.

So why would Jesus talk with Levi the tax collector (also called Matthew)? In that day, tax collectors were despised as traitors and thieves among their own people because they grew rich working for the Romans and their emperor. And as if talking to Levi wasn’t enough, Jesus also ate at Levi’s house with other tax collectors and sinners!

Didn’t Jesus care about tainting himself by mingling with such people? He answered, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

The truth is, “sinners” refers to everyone: Jesus’ self-righteous accusers, the others at Levi’s house, and each one of us as well. Here we see Jesus’ grace vividly extended to everyone around him, grace that transforms lives and changes the world. Only Jesus’ saving grace can do that.

Only by Jesus’ saving grace can we come into right fellowship with God. And once his grace touches our lives, we too should let it flow to those around us, including “tax collectors and sinners.”

Dear Jesus, you offer your grace to sinners—and that includes us. Through your grace we are made right with the Father. Help us to extend your grace to every­one around us. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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