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Somebody Call 9-1-1

February 25, 2018 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Verse: Luke 5:27–5:32

“Somebody Call 9-1-1”

Luke 5:27-32

Theme: Jesus compassion extends to every soul that is sickened by the awareness of their sin and desires healing.

I. Grace Is Offered to the Sinner – 5:27-29

A. The Request by the Savior – v. 27

  • Jesus power over sin, seas, spirits, and sin caused great focus on His authority – He had people’s attention. 
  • The heart of Christ to save men from their sin as His primary mission was becoming clear to those captured in their sins.
  • Exactly what kinds of sinners were included in Jesus’ ability to have hope? … those who simply fell into “minor violations” of God’s holiness?
  • What about those who were the most guilty – the truly degenerate reprobates in whom nothing good at all could be found … did they have hope that Jesus had the authority to forgive even their sins?
  • We are told that “as Jesus went on from there …” – that is, as He was departing from the home where the paralytic was healed, He encountered one of the “worst” sinners in the world.
  • “He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth” – this was a class of sinner that was viewed by the Jews as beyond any hope.
  1. The office of “tax collector” [τελώνης] referred to a national who purchased a franchise from Rome and who then collected a diversity of taxes on behalf of Rome.
  2. They were given freedom (and authority) by Rome to collect more than the taxes officially mandated by Rome and were authorized to keep it as their “income.”
  3. There were two classes of “tax collectors” according to the Talmud – one who collected general taxes called gabbai, and another called mokhes who collected various usage taxes
  4. The most despised were the mokhes who set up toll booths at strategic spots to impose random use fees on roadways, bridges, docks, stables, business licensing, etc…
  5. These men were hated by the Jews – seen as traitors and treated like vermin – cp. Matthew 18:17; 21:31-32
  • They were barred from entering any synagogue
  • They were disallowed in court as witnesses
  • They were considered as unclean as swine


  • Thus, when Jesus encounters Matthew, He is encountering a man who was universally considered the worst sinner alive – and Jesus “said to him, ‘Follow Me!’”
  • He demonstrates that even the “worst” sinners are free to benefit from His power to save from sin – Romans 5:20.

B. The Response by the Sinner – vv. 28-29

  • Matthew’s heart was stirred to faith and having heard Jesus’ teachings and seen the power of His grace in the healings, He responded immediately and with complete surrender, “And he got up and followed Him.”
  • We are told by Luke that Matthew “left everything behind, and got up and began following Him.” 
  • “began following …” [ἠκολούθει] – This is an Imperfect Active Indicative – indicating that the action was constant – it changed his life – it literally means: “to move behind someone in the same direction, come after”
  • Matthew’s was a decisive decision to break with his past life of sin and begin a continual pattern of following Christ as a “new creation” – cp. 2 Corinthians 5:17.
  • This was evidenced by the “big reception” that “Levi” provided “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.” 
  • Matthew wanted the Lord to do the same work of deliverance for his friends – the “tax collectors and other people” with whom he had associated corresponds to what Matthew describes simply as “sinners” - (the thieves, prostitutes, drunks, thugs, and enforcers) – cp. Matthew 9:10.
  • In the view of the religious community of Israel, these were the Jews who were not religious or did not observe Jewish traditional rules. 
  • Matthew’s perspective was: “If Jesus could do this for me, then He can deliver anyone!” – and He had a heart to see Christ so magnified. 
  • This becomes the same heart of those who are in love with Christ, who have been gloriously saved from their sins, and have a desire to see Christ magnified among all that they know.
  • It is tremendous to observe that Jesus willingly comes and spends time at this banquet “reclining” with these outcasts.


  • How does the radical change in Matthew impact you? Does it encourage you, shame you, inspire you? Why
  • How does Christ’s command to “follow me” alter your daily life?
  • Name the top three things in your life that you ought to “leave behind” to follow Christ more effectively?

II. Grace Is Offensive to the Sanctimonious – 5:30

A. The Irritation by the Self-Righteous

  • The response of seeing Matthew’s conversion was of little interest to the Pharisees – despite the fact that Matthew had been despised because of his occupation as a tax gatherer.
  • The immediate response was to criticize Jesus for associating with such riff-raff – “The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners’?” 
  • They didn’t come to Jesus – perhaps they had learned that their attempts to corner Him weren’t so successful.
  • So, they came at “His disciples” “grumbling” – to protest that this Jesus, who claimed to uphold standards higher than the Pharisees would willingly sit down and eat with such a flagrantly sinful group – cp. Matthew 5:20. 
  • They sought to rebuke the disciples and put them in their place for being so hypocritical in their assertions of maintaining righteousness.

B. The Indictment of the Savior  

  • They had no concern about the deliverance of such slaves of sin – only condemnation for those who were enslaved by sin.
  • Because the Pharisees were so external in their focus, their only conclusion is that Jesus eating with such people was to approve of their way of life 
  • The way that the question is phrased to the disciples demonstrates that the Pharisees see this not as an isolated incident, but the pattern for Christ’s life – “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 
  • Jesus loved people where they are – before He transforms them into what they ought to be – cp. Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10; John 3:17 
  • Such a love is inconceivable to those who are only concerned about the sin and not the sinner.
  • “The Pharisees did not think they needed God’s forgiveness and were certain that tax-gatherers and sinners did not deserve it.”
  • Those who know no grace show no grace; those who know no mercy show no mercy; those who know no love show no love.


  • Why were the Pharisees more focused on what Jesus was doing wrong when they had the transformation of Matthew in front of them?
  • How does Jesus’ interaction with sinners compare/contrast to your interest in the lost? 
  • What changes ought to be made in your priorities in light of both the Pharisees obsession and Jesus compassion?

III. Grace Is Occasioned by Sin - 5:31-32

A. The Illustration of the Condition of Sinners – v. 31

  1. The Lord determined that this issue was of greatest importance and so He answered for Himself – “And Jesus answered and said to them …”
  2. His response demonstrated the centrality of the Gospel in His life’s purpose giving three different arguments for the compassion that the Pharisees were consistently observing Him to possess for the “worst” sinners.
  3. First, He said, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.”
  4. Obviously, the Pharisees determined that a righteous man will spend time with sinners only after they had changed to become godly – but Jesus loves sinners as the basis for their change.
  5. The Pharisees set up an “office” and waited for people to come to them and celebrate their own self-righteousness; but Jesus saw the epidemic of sin and went out into the places where the sick were suffering to deliver them. 
  6. The Pharisees would shout to sinners that they were sick, but offered them no medicines or cures; Jesus took the cure to the sinner in order to bring true healing of their souls.
  7. Second, Jesus said that demonstrating compassion and mercy is what God desires to be shown toward sinners – cp. Matthew 9:13.
  8. Finally, Jesus informs them that His mission is to come and instigate the repentance of sinners and He is committed to that task ...

 B. The Indication of The Commitment of the Savior -v.32

  1. Those who had lost touch with a love for Christ demonstrate that they had no awareness of their own sin and were therefore “righteous.”
  2. Jesus stated that as long as a person was self-righteous, there was no cure for them – no ability to help them – cp. James 4:6.
  3. However, those who are struck with the depth of their sin – they are the ones that Jesus came to help – “… for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
  4. “Call” [καλέω] – is a word often used of inviting a guest to one’s home for food and lodging. 
  5. He is essentially saying that if you are satisfied with yourself, He will leave you to yourself; but if you are vexed by your sin, He will “call” you – sit down and fellowship with you so as to transform you by His love.



  • What lesson can you learn from the Pharisees’ view of themselves as “healthy?”
  • What is the advantage of realizing you are “sick” spiritually?
  • Why is repentance the “cure” for the “sickness” of sin?