Sermon in a nutshell: Matthew 9:9-17
There is a poem written by anonymous poet and circulated among many people. It says as follows:
If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior!
The best gift that we can expect from God is forgiveness. God wants to forgive us. However, we have to confess our sins and turn to God to experience God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a cooperative work between God and us. It is totally God’s work and God has achieved salvation already on the Cross through the obedience of Jesus Christ. What we need to do is to acknowledge that it is done already by Jesus. Once we acknowledge God’s saving Grace, God will forgive our sins and would not remember our sins any more.
So, for us it is really important to acknowledge what God has been doing. If we justify what we have been doing and make excuses, we are still self-centered. That is our sin! When we acknowledge that we are sorry, that is “repentance.” Before we repent our sins (1) we thought that our good works will save us and (2) we also judge others saying that they would go to hell because of their bad works. However, when we repent, (1) we confess that all our good works would not save us and (2) all the other people would be also saved when they seek and ask for God’s grace. We are saved by Grace alone. We try to do good works not to save ourselves but to express our gratitude.
Last Sunday we experience a drama sermon, “Love them now!” It was a powerful message that we should love others even when they have and show their weaknesses. Jesus also died for us when we were yet sinners. When we are loved we start cleaning up our lives, not the other way around.
Today’s Bible passage shows that Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector, to be his disciple. Not only he but many tax collectors and sinners were invited to have dinner with Jesus. To this dinner two groups of people had different responses: (1) Sinners were happy and (2) Self-righteous people were grumpy. Pharisees complained, saying, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” The disciples of John also grumbled, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often but your disciples do not fast?” These two different responses depend on their identity. If we think we are sinners (new wine skin), we would welcome Jesus’ flexibility (new wine). If we think we are righteous (old wine skin), we would complain against the radical Grace (new wine). So, where do we belong to?
1. Who, do you think, cannot be saved by God? Why?
2. Is there any sin (or a sinner) that God cannot forgive?
3. If God can forgive all sins and save everybody, why are there still people who are not saved?