The term “dyed in the wool,” comes from the 1500’s when people would dye freshly sheered wool with color. If the wool was dyed before it was woven into thread, the color would last much longer. This expression has come to signify unconditionality, strength, intensity, and depth. For example, a true dyed in the wool Cubs fan loves that baseball team, even through the many, many, many years of losing seasons. For another example, I have a dyed in the wool type of love for my cats, even if they scratch my face off - I still love ‘em!
Our new series, Dyed in the Wool, is all about Jesus and His relationship with sinners. We’ll look closely at the interactions He had with the sinners who were considered the worst, by the people in their communities and by standards of the law. How did Jesus interact with them and what did He say to them? Was His love for the sinners the exact same as it was for His closest followers? We’re going to look and see if His love for even the worst sinners was a “dyed in the wool” type of love - or if He had any reservations, hesitations, or conditions before giving them His love.
[To get full effect, here's the series intro video...]
We dove right in to this series looking at a portion of the second chapter of Mark. In verses 13-14, we read that Jesus approached a tax collector’s booth and called Levi (AKA Matthew) to follow Him. This is when Matthew is commissioned as a disciple. As a tax collector, chances are Matthew was not a very popular guy in his community. Tax collectors generally would rip people off, taking far more taxes than they should have to pocket the rest. Put it this way - tax collectors were’t getting the neighborhood cook-out invitations (unless, of course, it was a cookout for slime-ball tax collectors only)...
Speaking of cookouts reserved for slimey tax collectors, we read in verses 15-16 that Jesus is feasting with Matthew and his tax collector buds - along with a group of "sinners.” I don’t think anyone, other than Jesus, would claim to be perfect - but if a crew of people is labeled a group of “sinners” then they must be rough around the edges! That’s the dinner party Jesus is at - tax collectors and a group of sinners. The Pharisees, strict religious teachers always looking to get Jesus in trouble (because they didn’t believe He was truly the Messiah), they question why Jesus would eat with such lowly folk. To their question, Jesus replies in Mark 2:17,
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
This series, Dyed in the Wool, is all about Jesus and His relationship with sinners - how He treats them, what He thinks of them, how He relates to them. And He demonstrates something very important at this feast… Jesus came for the sick. The all powerful, mighty God who created everything that has ever existed - became a human to come to earth for the broken people. He didn’t come for those considered righteous or “religious,” but for the sinners that needed Him. The fact that Jesus came for the sick, leaves us with a two-fold application, depending on where you are in your faith, so check this:
First: for those who have been to the “Doctor,” and consider themselves Christians… Do you have a heart for the “sick” like Jesus does? If you saw someone is serious need of medical attention, what would you do? You would call 911, right? Do we have an eternal mindset to see people as souls that need that 911 call? Jesus didn’t care what the Pharisees thought or how society would perceive Him, He was only concerned about the sick. Do you have people you are leading to Christ, or are you stuck in a Christian bubble? Don’t get me wrong, it is incredibly important to be surrounded by fellow brothers and sisters in Christ - to build each other up and encourage one another. But Jesus doesn’t want us to stay in that cozy Christian bubble, He went after the sick that needed healing - and we should do the same!
Second: for those who haven’t "been to the Doctor yet…” Know and understand that Jesus came here for YOU! In your brokenness and even in your sin - Jesus loves you and wants a relationship with you. In a spiritual sense, do you recognize that you are sick? That sickness leads to death. Yes, we all physically die, but this is a different kind of death. For Christians, death means life into enteral relationship with God in Heaven. For the sick, death takes on a different meaning - a total separation from the Doctor, the Healer. Separation from the One who came to save you, and the One that wants a relationship with you right now… So, if you’re sick - go to the Doctor! What are you waiting for? Go! Admit to Him that you’re sick, you want healing, and that you trust in Him!
Does Jesus have a dyed in the wool, unconditional kind of love for sinners? He came here FOR sinners, for the same people that reject Him, who sin and disrespect Him. John 3:16 says that because God loves sinners so much, He sacrificed His Son Jesus to die for them, so who trusts in that death and resurrection as forgiveness, is given that relationship with Him eternally. You know what the next verse talks about? John 3:17 says that Jesus didn’t come to the world just to judge people, tell them they’re bad, and send them all to Hell. Nope, that verse says quite the contrary. It talks about how Jesus came to the earth to love and to save the world. Jesus came for the sick. So ya, you could definitely say that Jesus has that “dyed in the wool” kind of love for sinners.