Sermon – June 21, 2020 – Pentecost 3

Printable PDF:  6-21-2020 Pentecost 3

June 21, 2020  ~  Pentecost 3  ~  Vicar Jason Lindemann


Jesus has boundless mercy for you


9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. 10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.

11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

I’m all by myself! Ever since I got here, Pastor Clark told me the time would come where I would cover the church myself. My hope was to make sure the building was still standing when they get back, but I think it’s going better than that. He told me that you would have mercy on me. When I came to Grace, there was no good reason for you people to have mercy on me. You had never met me before last August to give you a reason to be nice to me. The time that I’m here is limited to one year, so you weren’t playing the long game either. There was no reason for you to learn about me, or learn from me, or be patient with me while I tried to remember your names. I know I didn’t deserve that. But you showed me mercy, and you did all those things, and I really value the mercy you had on me to be your Vicar. That’s mercy from person to person. Jesus talks about another kind of mercy today. The mercy that God has toward us. There is no good reason for God to have mercy on sinners, but he showed mercy to Matthew, and Jesus has boundless mercy for you, too. He has mercy on people who need him and his mercy makes you spiritually healthy.

  1. Mercy for people who need him (V9-10)

If anybody needed mercy, it was Matthew, and Jesus was walking right for him. Jesus was coming from calming the fierce storm on the Sea of Galilee, and making a paralyzed man walk. Jesus was walking along the road and saw a sinner. Yes, aren’t we all sinners, but this was a man whose sins everyone knew about, and who hung around sketchy people as well. He was a tax collector. Matthew was sitting at the tax collector’s booth on the side of the road, where people would have to pay their taxes, and then pay Matthew outrageous processing and handling fees as high as the tax collector could get away with. Matthew was living with sick sinners, and he knew it. Matthew knew about Jesus’ teachings and miracles, and he saw the good and powerful Jesus coming down the road, about to walk by him and his sinful tax collector’s booth.

Jesus didn’t admire Matthew at his sinful booth, but he did have mercy on him. Jesus didn’t look at a man who deserved some help. He didn’t see a man in that booth who was doing everything right and just needed a break. He saw a sinner. One sick sinner out of many sick sinners who had nothing to offer Jesus, but who needed Jesus. And Jesus had mercy on Matthew. His mercy is his great, faithful, unfailing love on sinners who need it so badly but have nothing to offer. If you or I were deciding who should get mercy in this world, the last person we would say deserves it is Matthew. Matthew did not deserve it, but he needed Jesus. So when Jesus walked by Matthew’s booth, Jesus told him “follow me,” and Matthew did. Jesus has mercy on people who need him like Matthew.

Matthew followed Jesus as much as he possibly could. God showed Matthew great mercy, and Matthew valued Jesus’ mercy. Look how seriously he took Jesus’ words, “Follow me.” He got up from where he was sitting, and literally started following Jesus on the road and even had him to his house for dinner to celebrate. He also followed Jesus for the rest of his life. Jesus poured out his mercy on this sinner who needed him. His mercy even turned this lowlife sinner into a household name. Jesus’ mercy turned the tax collector into Matthew the Apostle and Matthew the writer of a book of the Bible. Jesus’ mercy turned the sinner into the author of the beautiful, deep, simple Gospel lessons that all of our summer sermons this year will focus on. Jesus’ boundless mercy healed his sick heart.

Maybe you don’t sit at a tax collector’s booth, but where might Jesus walk down the road of your life, only to find you as a sick sinner? Like Matthew, maybe stealing and cheating is so easy in your life that it’s hard to fight against. Like the other sinners that were around Matthew, maybe sexual impurity has taken hold of your life. Maybe there’s a different sinful booth you go to sit, where you hope no one ever finds you. Jesus doesn’t admire you in your sin, but he does have mercy on you. He sees that you need him, and like he called Matthew, he calls you out of sin to follow him.

He doesn’t do that for you because you can offer him anything, but because of his mercy. You would be devastated if God gave you what you deserve. Even our best acts of kindness are like filthy rags to God when they come from a sin sick heart. Our sins deserve punishment. But, Jesus doesn’t give you what you deserve. Jesus has boundless mercy for you. He has so much mercy on you that he would lay down his life for you. And he did die for you. You are in need of a Savior from your sin, and Jesus’ mercy on you led him to the cross to save you. Jesus’ heart is too big not to help you in your need.

Then your merciful Savior rose from the dead, called you out of your sin and calls you to follow him. Follow Jesus as much as you possibly can, like Matthew did. Jesus’ mercy for you gets you out of your sinful booth to follow him. Then keep following Jesus. Don’t run back to that life of sin. Follow Jesus. His mercy turns you from a sinner into his Christian witnesses. You’re not going to write your own book of the Bible, but you still have Jesus’ mercy to share with people who need him. You get to tell the other sinners you know, “Jesus’ mercy even covers my sins, and he has mercy to help you too.”

Jesus has boundless mercy for you and for everyone who needs him. Jesus makes the sick sinner healthy. But there are sick sinners who think they are already healthy. Many sinners don’t see a need for Jesus mercy. But only Jesus’ mercy makes you spiritually healthy.

  1. Mercy makes you spiritually healthy (V11-13)

The Pharisees were sick sinners who didn’t think they needed to be made spiritually healthy. They didn’t think they needed a doctor. The Pharisees were told they were sick, but they didn’t believe they were sick. It’s like they had a stabbing pain in their stomach and horrible nausea, but since they weren’t bleeding out of their eyeballs, they didn’t need to go to the emergency room. They used their own treatment to feel better. Hop in the shower, eat more fruits and vegetables, and they thought they would feel better. Even more devastating than treating appendicitis with better living habits, is to believe that you can make yourself spiritually healthy with good work living habits.

The Pharisees did not believe they were sick sinners. You can hear it in their question, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus is talking about spiritual health. The health of your soul. The Pharisees didn’t think they were sinners. They thought they were spiritually healthy. To convince themselves they were healthy, they sacrificed with good works. Outwardly they looked good – they followed all the laws, they gave big offerings, they could point out right away when someone was doing something wrong. But they didn’t have what they needed. Without faith in Jesus’ mercy, all their best acts of self-sacrifice could not heal their sin sick souls. They thought they could make themselves healthy. But they couldn’t. No one can.

So how can we be spiritually healthy? “God desires mercy, not sacrifice.” Our own sacrifices cannot cover any sins. We can’t self medicate our sin. We can’t decide that if we give up this and this and help this many people and sacrifice this much of our time to God, then we will be healthy. Rather than ignoring this fatal sickness, recognize that it’s Jesus’ mercy that makes you healthy. Let’s see ourselves with the worst of sinners who would die without Jesus, and watch his mercy heal and save your soul.

That’s why we self-examine ourselves before communion. Why am I coming to the Lord’s Supper? Why did I miss the Lord’s Supper so badly when I couldn’t have it? Because on my own I am no better than the worst sinner. I have nothing to sacrifice to God to make him love me. I need his mercy to make me spiritually healthy.

And we find his mercy in the Gospel. Specifically today in the Lord’s Supper and in his Word that we sing. When you taste his supper you receive his mercy that he poured out for you on the cross. And when you sing about his mercy, you remind each other of the Gospel. How many times today have we cried out today, “Lord have mercy”? However many it is, it’s not over yet. Right before we come to communion we sing “O Christ, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us.” If anybody needed mercy, it’s us. And Jesus has mercy for you. Keep proclaiming his Gospel and reminding yourself of the mercy he has for you, so that everyone can know that nothing but Jesus’ boundless mercy makes you spiritually healthy.

The mercy that God has on us is completely undeserved. No sacrifice can make us healthy. We need his mercy. And Jesus does have boundless mercy for you who need him. His mercy calls us sinners to follow him. Recognize and value his mercy. His mercy is the only thing that makes you healthy. And he pours out his mercy on you and forgives all your sins.