July 12 I Monday
“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.” —Matthew 9:9
After Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector, to follow Him, they had dinner at Matthew’s house with other tax collectors and sinners. In essence, Jesus was eating with the enemy, by having a meal with the tax collectors for Rome. Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus did not avoid these people; He openly shared a meal with the social outcasts in New Testament times. Jesus being a rabbi, the Pharisees were concerned that He was sending a dangerous message.
The Pharisees asked Jesus’s disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Overhearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill” (Matthew 9:11-12). We do not go to the doctor when we are healthy, but when we are sick. When we see the doctor with our sickness, he does not leave us alone; he diagnoses the problem and prescribes a cure. We get a prescription and have to follow the doctor’s orders, taking the necessary steps to heal. For example, if we go to a doctor with a heart condition, the doctor will say, “Well, stay away from red meats, fatty foods and observe this diet.” Afterwards, it is dependent on us to apply those recommended actions into our life. The more desperate our condition is, the more willing we are to take the cure.
Jesus had table fellowship with people that the culture would have never welcomed because they needed healing. Like a good physician, Jesus accepted any patient; however, this does not mean Jesus affirmed every choice they were making in their lives. Jesus was the Good Physician who sought the sick to heal them, and He pointed to Himself as the solution to their sin sickness. He administered a cure, but it was up to these people to follow the prescription that Jesus wrote for them.
In The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning writes “It would be impossible to overestimate the impact these meals must have had upon the poor and the sinners. By accepting them as friends and equals Jesus had taken away their shame, humiliation, and guilt. By showing them that they mattered to Him as people, He gave them a sense of dignity and released them from their old captivity.” Jesus did not come for the person who thinks they are good; He came for the person who recognizes that this world is full of evil and knows that they are part of the problem. “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners,” Jesus declared in Matthew 9:13.
Would we set aside our self-righteousness, realizing how sin sick we are and how desperately we need the Good Physician?
Prayer: Dear Good Physician, thank You for offering the perfect cure for my sin sickness—Your own life. I am grateful that You desire to have fellowship with me. Praise You!