Mark 2:15-17 – Jesus Eats With Publicans and Sinners

Christian MölkMark Leave a Comment

Mark 2:15

  1. Not only did Levi immediately become a disciple of Jesus, but he also invited Jesus and the disciples to his home for dinner.
  2. Mealtime fellowship is central to both the Jewish and Christian communities.
    1. Eating together is a sign of belonging, acceptance and care. It’s also fun.

Mark 2:16

  1. The “Pharisees” were a “revival movement” among the Jewish people who studied the Pentateuch carefully and tried to live their lives accordingly. The word “Pharisee” roughly means “the consecrated”.
    1. The Pharisees were very careful not to break any of the commandments of the Pentateuch. They were so careful that they even put a “fence” of extra rules around the rules of the Pentateuch to minimize the risk of accidentally breaking the rules of the Pentateuch.
      1. These rules were also called “the tradition of the elders”, “the oral Torah” and later “the Talmud” (Mt 7:3).
    1. Jesus quarreled with the Pharisees when he felt that their extra rules conflicted with the rules of the Pentateuch (Mark 7:8).
  2. The “audience” was Levi’s former tax colleagues.
    1. Levi certainly wanted more of his friends and colleagues to become Jesus’ disciples, so he invited them to a meal so they could get acquainted.
  3. The Pharisees saw themselves as “righteous” because they considered themselves to be following the rules of the Pentateuch. On the other hand, those who openly disobeyed the rules of the Pentateuch, such as prostitutes, were called “sinners” by the Pharisees.
    1. Jesus criticizes this way of thinking because the Pharisees were just as much sinners but in other areas, greed for example, which perhaps did not appear as much outwardly (Luke 16:14-15).
      1. The New Testament is clear that all people have sinned and are sinners (Romans 3:23).
    1. Since the Pharisees did not consider themselves sinners, they did not feel the need to repent. But since the kingdom of God requires repentance, the Pharisees are thus automatically excluded from the kingdom of God (Mk 1:15).
    1. When Jesus dined with sinners, thus showing fellowship with them, it was offensive in the eyes of the Pharisees.
      1. Jesus distinguishes between sin and sinners. It is wrong to have fellowship with sin but it is not wrong to have fellowship with sinners.

Mark 2:17

  1. The Pharisees were disturbed that Jesus, who followed the Pentateuch, was eating with those who, according to them, did not follow the Pentateuch.
  2. The Pharisees might have hoped that Jesus, who could cure diseases, etc., would join the Pharisees’ party, but here they see themselves sidelined in favour of “sinners”.
  3. Jesus’ focus was on the people who did not try to hide the fact that they were sinners.
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