May 1 - Great Physician

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Matthew 9:10-13

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’  For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

This passage caused me to chuckle a little as I read it through several times.  Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”  My, how we've changed our perspectives. The healthy spend an awful lot of time with their doctors in order that they not get sick.

But, anyway …

The Pharisees didn't know what to make of this man in their midst. Many of them denied that he was from God, others considered that he might be a teacher, but when he came close to claiming a special relationship with God, they were furious. Others were simply frightened of him and didn't know what to make of his claims, his miracles or his teaching.  But, what they could not deny was that people listened to him.

They could never corner Jesus, so this time they went after his disciples, asking them why their teacher would demean himself by eating with people who were of no particular consequence. In fact, they were the scourge of society; the worst of the lot.

Now, if Jesus had wanted to play the game and make himself known to the glitterati, he would have done things very differently. He would have spent evenings with those who were celebrated in the Temple courts and walked along speaking of the esoteric business of the Law with the Pharisees who saw themselves above the rest of society.  He could have created a very safe life for himself among that group of people and maybe after fifteen or twenty years in ministry, he could have retired to the countryside and lived for many years.

But, Jesus was interested in playing at ministry. He was God. On earth. He had come to bring salvation to all of humanity. Those who were righteous didn't need him to wander the courts of the Temple with them … they didn't want him to do that.  He didn't need to eat lunch with them or attend quiet parties in their homes.  He needed to meet with those who needed him the most.