"Did you hear that Dr. Carrol has announced that he will pay the fine for the student who defaced his office if they will only come to him and confess what they've done and promise to never do it again?" The words shared by a college student with her roommate intended to provoke a response of wonder or indignation only produced silence, and, on closer examination, tears. "Why, what's wrong, Darlene? I didn't intend to make you cry, though I agree it's a kind assurance and I'm sure Dr. Carrol means every word of it." After more silence to gain her composure, Darlene hesitantly began. "Charmaine, I was the one who did it. I was angry about the grade he gave me and have felt bad about it ever since. "I didn't feel I could admit it, though, since I couldn't pay the fine and knew I'd never be able to stand up to the ridicule of the other students. But if he's promised to forgive me and pay the fine, I guess I'll go tell him." Perhaps you've had a similar experience - longing for the freedom to confess and turn but not knowing if you'd be forgiven. In Mark 2:13-17 Jesus offers to forgive those who will admit that they are sinners needing His forgiveness and repent of their sin. Study the passage to understand why Jesus loves repentant sinners but resists those who claim self-righteousness in pride.
Before you study His Word, ask God to prepare your heart to receive it and ask Him to give you good understanding and a willingness to change based on what He shows you.
Read Focus Verses
Read Mark 2:13-17 and notice the different kinds of people which are mentioned in these verses.
What are some of the different kinds of people mentioned in these verses?
What different locations are mentioned in this passage?
What happens in verse 13?
What does verse 14 tell us about Levi?
What did Jesus say to Levi?
What was Levi's response to Jesus' call?
What does verse 15 tell us about the dinner mentioned?
Who criticizes Jesus in verse 16?
Why do they criticize Him?
What is Jesus' reply in verse 17?
In Your Words
How would you retell the story in today's passage to a child?
Keywords - Jesus Christ
Jesus is the main character in these verses. Marking His Name will emphasize this.
Mark the words naming or referring to Jesus in Mark 2:13-17.
As today's passage opens, we see Jesus teaching again. Look back to Mark 1:14-15 and see that Jesus' ministry opened with Him teaching.
Just a few verses later in Mark 1:21-22, we see Jesus teaching on the Sabbath day.
That's Why I'm Here
In Mark 1:38-39 Jesus clarifies that this was His purpose.
Even in Mark 2:2 when there were so many people gathered that there wasn't room for any more, He was preaching to them.
What was Jesus' message according to these verses?
Romans 10:13-17 explains the importance of speaking God's Word, sharing the gospel.
Why was Jesus so focused on teaching and preaching based on what Romans 10:13-17 says?
Luke 5:27-32 tells us some different details about the story in today's passage which helps us understand what happened even better.
What are some additional details Luke recorded that help us understand what happened?
In Matthew 9:9 we see that Levi had another name.
Levi = Matthew
What was Levi's other name?
Book of the Bible
Which book of the Bible did this disciple write? (Hint: it is called by his name and talks about Jesus.)
That God used Matthew to write one of the books of the Bible is amazing when we look at how the religious leaders of his day viewed him. What did the scribes and Pharisees say about Levi/Matthew and his friends in verse 16 of today's passage?
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Why were publicans so hated?
We see Jesus reaching out to another publican in Luke 19:1-10.
Jesus called these men while they were sinners. But in both stories - with Matthew and Zacchaeus - what happened after Jesus called them?
We see Jesus giving the same call to Levi as He gave to Peter and Andrew in Mark 1:16-20 and getting the same response.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 explains how this works.
How does it work for Jesus to call sinners to be His disciples?
In stark contrast to the publicans were the Pharisees. In Mark 7:6-9 we see the heart of the problem with the Pharisees.
What does Mark 7:6-9 tell us about the way the Pharisees treated God's Word?
God's Word vs. Traditions
As you check out this quick summary of who the Pharisees (and Sadducees who we'll run into later in Mark) were, keep in mind what Jesus said - the Pharisees rejected God's Word whenever their traditions disagreed with it and said traditions had equal authority to God's Word.
In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus tells us a story that shows how much better the Pharisees thought they were than the publicans and how God disagreed with them.
Matthew 21:28-32 tells us God's perspective on the two groups and their contrasting responses to Jesus.
In Luke 15 Jesus tells us three beautiful short stories that illustrate how much God delights to save those others reject despite the anger of those who considered themselves righteous.
Humble or Proud
Psalm 138:6 explains God's character as it relates to these groups of people - those who ask for His mercy and those who think they're good enough on their own.
Isaiah 66:1-2 clarifies that even though God is great, He loves the humble.
What do these verses tell us about God?
James 4:6-10 tells us how to respond in light of these truths about God.
According to James 4:6-10, how should we respond because God loves the humble and resists the proud?
Isaiah 64:6 is a sobering explanation for why God resists those who think they are righteous on their own.
Romans 3:10-12 is very clear.
In 1 John 1:8-10 we see the seriousness of claiming self-righteousness and the blessed alternative.
What does God say about those who claim they are righteous on their own and are not sinners?
What does God point out as the alternative?
What does God promise to those who confess their sins by agreeing with Him about them and asking for mercy according to these verses and the stories you read that Jesus told?
1 John 2:1-2 explains how God can forgive justly those who confess their sin.
Romans 6:23 explains why death is part of the equation.
Christ for Us
Romans 5:6-8 explains why those who repent and trust in Christ don't have to die the death they deserve.
How does God explain that He can justly forgive sinners who repent and turn to Jesus Christ?
Back in today's passage, notice that Jesus says He came to call sinners to repentance. Read again the first words Mark records Jesus saying in Mark 1:14-15 and notice the theme.
Easton's Bible Dictionary says that repentance has four parts: 1. a true sense of one’s own guilt and sinfulness; 2. an apprehension of God’s mercy in Christ; 3. an actual hatred of sin and turning from it to God; and 4. a persistent endeavor after a holy life in a walking with God in the way of his commandments.
That's Why He Came
1 Timothy 1:15 takes the fear out of admitting we are sinners and repenting.
Titus 2:13-14 echoes the message by calling Jesus Christ our Savior - a Savior must save from something.
Ready to Repent
How do these verses assure us and give us boldness to admit we are sinners and repent of our sins and turn to Christ?
Come, Ye Sinners
This beautiful hymn speaks of the truths we find in today's passage. Notice especially the reference to it in the third verse. Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, Weak and wounded, sick and sore, Jesus ready stands to save you, Full of pity, love and power. He is able, He is willing, doubt no more! Let not conscience let you linger, Nor of fitness fondly dream; All the fitness he requireth Is to feel your need of him. This he gives you, 'Tis the Spirit's glimmering beam. Come ye weary, heavy laden, Bruised and mangled by the fall; If you tarry till you're better, You will never come at all. Not the righteous, Sinners Jesus came to call. Lo! the incarnate God, ascended, Pleads the merit of His blood; Venture on Him, venture wholly; Let no other trust intrude: None but Jesus, Can do helpless sinners good. Joseph Hart
We saw earlier that when Jesus called disciples, He called them to join Him in fishing for men. Mark 16:15 clarifies this.
In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus gives special promises to encourage Christians in this task.
Once a person has repented and turned to God through Christ, what are they supposed to do?
What does it tell us about Jesus that He was willing to reach out with compassion and hope to those who were despised by others even though He was criticized for it?
Since Christians are supposed to be like Jesus, what kind of people does today's passage tell us they should try to reach?
Read Mark 2:13-17 once more in light of what you've studied from God's Word.
Earlier you retold the story of this passage in your own words. Now explain its significance and meaning in your own words making sure to be clear about how it should impact our lives.
The Pharisees were proud and thought that they were good enough for Jesus to associate with and righteous enough for God to accept. Do you find this kind of attitude in your own heart? Do you struggle to admit your sin? How does today's study challenge you in that?
Have you humbled yourself to agree with God about your sin, repenting and asking Him to forgive you for Jesus' sake because He died and rose for you? If so, is there sin in your life you need to humbly admit and repent of? If not, will you call on Him today? God promises to save all who truly call on Him.
If you have repented of your sin and trusted in Christ, are you calling others to do the same and sharing the gospel that Jesus came to forgive them?
Are you willing to show compassion to people that others consider below you to share the good news that God loves them and wants to save them even if people mock you for it? Who does God want you to show the love of Christ to today?
We hope this study has helped you understand Jesus as the Savior for sinners and challenged you to respond not in prideful self-righteousness, but in humble repentance so that Jesus can forgive you and heal your heart.
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