Sermons of David Chadwell
A SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGE IN SHARING JESUS
Click here to listen to this sermon read by Greg McAbee.
Please get your Bibles and read with me.
Matthew 9:14-17, Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, Why do we and
the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast? And Jesus said to them,
The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with
them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from
them, and then they will fast. But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an
old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear
results. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins
burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new
wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.
All of us deal with the fact that our world changes. Let me illustrate that fact
with changes that have occurred in my lifetime. I want those of us who remember
to help me by raising your hand. How many of you remember nickel cokes? (Pause)
How many of you remember gasoline for 35 cents a gallon? (Pause) How many of you
remember when most places that sold gasoline also sold kerosene? (Pause)
Think with me for a moment about wonderful business opportunities. You do not
need to raise your hands, but I ask you to think with me. How many of you
remember our society before anyone owned a personal computer? (Pause) How many
of you would think you were given a wonderful business opportunity if you were
offered the opportunity to be the major shareholder in a company that makes
only typewriters? (Pause) How many of you would like to own the rights to the
production of 8-tract cassette tapes? (Pause)
My point is, hopefully, worth thinking about, but it is rather simple. If we are
going to understand the world before the changes occurred, we must understand
the changes. If we are going to understand the illustrations Jesus used in our
reading, we must understand a time that had little in common with our society.
In the Jewish society Jesus lived in, fasting was a common religious occurrence.
Commonly, devout Jewish people fasted. Every Monday and Thursday, devout Jewish
people fasted. It was a way of saying, "We humble ourselves before You, God. We
know our place. You do not have to punish us for us to know how small we are and
how great You are." Jews have been participating in religious fasts from the time
when the Day of Atonement was instituted (Leviticus 16:29-31). Religious fasts
occurred so frequently in Jesus' day, it was unthinkable that a person could
claim to be God's spokesman and not fast.
Thus, when Jesus and his disciples did not fast, it was considered just plain
Jesus did not condemn fasting. He merely said it was inappropriate for his
disciples to fast then. Fasting was not an appropriate part of a wedding. You
did not patch a hole in an old piece of clothing with new, unshrunk cloth -- to do
so would make the tear worse. You did not put new wine in old, hardened
wineskins lest the gas escaping from the new wine explode the old, hardened skin
and everything is lost.
You and I understand that Jesus was God's means of unthinkable change during his
lifetime. Even today, the man or woman who dares follow Jesus will be a part of
There is one thing we all need to understand and remember: people in need
respond to Jesus. Those needs may be different and start at different places.
But God does not care. And belonging to Jesus means we learn not to be concerned
either. We exist to help people find direction in Jesus Christ. The fact that
people were tax collectors and sinners does not bother us because it did not
bother Jesus. People who believe and repent are always welcome to come to Jesus,
and as Christians we want to learn how to help them come to Jesus. It is still
the sick who need Jesus. The righteous should not prevent Jesus from ministering
- When we share Jesus with people, those who come to Jesus may not be the people
you want to come to Jesus.
- Jesus was often criticized because the "wrong people" listened to him, accepted
him, and associated with him.
- In Matthew 9:10-13 we read:
Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at
the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were
dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to
His disciples, Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and
sinners? But when Jesus heard this, He said, It is not those who are healthy
who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this
means: I desire compassion, and not sacrifice, for I did not come to call
the righteous, but sinners.
- Tax collectors and sinners were the worst of the worst.
- Jewish people who collected taxes that benefited the Roman government were
considered by some to be traitors against Israel.
- Sinners were Jews who rejected the religious laws and teachings of Judaism--they
did not even pretend to be acceptable.
- No self-respecting Jew who considered himself religious would associate with
- Jesus did more than let them listen.
- He ate with them!
- That was the highest form of fellowship/association extended in their society.
- Jesus did something no self-respecting religious Jew would do.
- The religious elite of their society did not like it one bit!
- Jesus' answer was astounding!
- The sick need the doctor, not the healthy!
- Understand what God meant when he said through Hosea (6:6) that He wanted
compassion, not sacrifice--you need to understand what that means.
- I did not come to call the righteous (some were righteous).
- I came to call those you consider sinners--people who need to turn to God.
- Mark referred to the same incident in Mark 2:15-17.
- He adds three details.
- It occurred where Jesus customarily ate with his disciples.
- There were many tax collectors and sinners.
- These people were following Jesus.
- It was not an isolated incident, but a situation Jesus encouraged.
- Luke refers to a reception which Levi gave which records much of the same
Luke 5:29-32, And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a
great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table
with them. The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples,
saying, Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners? And
Jesus answered and said to them, It is not those who are well who need a
physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but
sinners to repentance.
- Luke also refers to another situation in Luke 15:1, 2:
Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to
Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, This man receives
sinners and eats with them.
- The point I make is simple: Jesus appealed to people the religious elite did not
- When Jesus addressed his Jewish audiences, he appealed to people in need,
regardless of their background.
- Who Jesus appealed to was not determined by the Jewish devout.
- Later, after Christianity came into existence, Paul made this statement to
Colossian Christians in Colossians 3:9-11:
Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil
practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge
according to the image of the One who created hima renewal in which there is no
distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian,
Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
- I want you to consider an enormous stress the Christians of the first century
- At first the gospel was preached only to Jewish people and those gentiles who
has been converted to Judaism (see Acts 2:10).
- It started in Jerusalem.
- It spread to the Samaritans (who were partly Jewish and accepted the first five
books of the Old Testament as their guide).
- Only after Acts records its outreach in Palestine does it discuss the outreach
of Christianity in other places among other peoples.
- Then the presentation of Jesus as the Christ and the Savior of the world was
presented to non-Jewish peoples.
- The word "gentiles" refers to any nationality or people who were not Jewish.
- As long as Jesus Christ was preached only among the Jewish people, those people
could regard the preaching and teaching about Christ as a Jewish movement.
- However, when gentiles became Christians (consider Acts 10 and the first part of
11) it became a very complex matter for Jewish Christians.
- As long as only Jews became Christians, it was simple.
- There certainly were Jews who strongly opposed any Jew calling Jesus the Christ
- However, they were alike in culture, in tradition, in what they regarded God,
and in what they regarded scripture.
- Basically, they ate the same things, did the same things, and worshipped the
- Then gentiles became Christians.
- What they ate, what they did, and what they worshipped before conversion was
- They did not previously worship the same God.
- They did not have thousands of years of history to honor.
- Many of them did not have anything that even resembled the role of Jewish
- In fact, most gentile Christians worshipped many gods previously, and often considered
people who worshipped only one God as atheists.
- They had almost nothing in common with Jewish converts in Palestine.
- That is likely why Romans 14 was written to the Christians in Rome.
- Because God does not care who becomes Christians does not mean Christians do not
care who becomes part of their congregation--I want you to think about how
difficult it was for people who believed in Christ in the first century.
- Before they became Christians, Jews and gentiles had different gods.
- Jews and gentiles did not have the same culture or traditions.
- Jews and gentiles did not have the same values, the same concepts of what was
right and wrong.
- Jews and gentiles did not eat the same things for religious reasons (read
- Typically, gentile converts had much more spiritual growing to do and would
require much more patience than Jewish converts--a person who previously
worshipped idols and a person who previously worshipped the God of creation do
not have the same starting point when they are converted to Christ.
- To look upon each other as Christians required enormous adjustments.
- In many ways, we face the same problems as Christians today.
- There was a time in many of our lifetimes when we were all basically alike.
- We were probably rural because the Church of Christ then was mostly rural.
- We were probably lower middle-class because the Church of Christ then was mostly
lower middle- class.
- We were probably southern because the Church of Christ then was mostly southern.
- Our traditions and practices were the same or similar because our backgrounds
were the same or similar.
- Our values were the same or similar because our backgrounds were the same or
- With many of us the Bible played a prominent role in our parents' lives, and
worshipping God on Sunday was not left as a decision or an option.
- Have things ever changed!
- Now our largest congregations are in cities, and many congregations that were
rural have disappeared.
- The typical congregation is no longer lower middle-class.
- Congregations exist throughout our nation in all regions.
- Traditions, practices, and values are no longer the same--they typically change
as the region changes.
- Now we can no longer assume that converts come from a strong, religious
- They may come from no religious background, or from a religion that is not
- The only thing we may have in common is faith in Jesus as the Christ.
- And everyone will have to adjust.
- And faith in Christ starts at many different points.
- And nothing is to be assumed.
- And it can be very stressful, just as it was when it all began.
sermon posted 20 September 2007
Link to next sermon
Link to other Writings of David