Sunday, September 21, 2014

Insulting the guests

Jesus Eats With Publicans and Sinners - by Alexandre Bida

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 21:9-13

TO CHEW ON: "And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, 'Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?' When Jesus heard that, He said to them, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.' " Matthew 9:11,12

Jesus and His disciples were socializing with known sinners. This dinner party was in Matthew's own home (this is clear from the Mark 2:13-17 and Luke 5:27-32 versions of this story, where Matthew is called "Levi").

You've got to admire Matthew's humility when he reports Jesus' defense of why He's associating with, what his critics consider, riffraff.  Jesus says they are sick and need a doctor, sinners who need to repent, unrighteous who need mercy. He's basically describing Matthew and current company. How would you or I feel if a dinner guest said that about us and our guests?

But it seems Matthew had no problem with it. He had faced himself in this way. It had brought him to his moment of decision, led him to leave his job— a life change (Matthew 9:9).  Now he wanted his friends to be exposed to the same ideas and the Person who had helped him see himself.

I would suggest that it is similar for us. It's only when we are honest about our condition and realistic about who and what we are that we get free to leave the old life behind and embark with Jesus on the new.

We have to face that we don't "make mistakes," we sin. Our sinful acts aren't the odd exception, they are symptoms of our chronic condition. We need to repent, turn around, and come to Dr. Jesus for mercy. This is not some self-improvement program for us and our friends, but a spiritual healing, a rebirth.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, in my society where "sin" and "repentance" are words I rarely hear, help me to understand the depth of human separation from You, the need to admit that we're all sinners and must turn around (repent) to re-establish our relationship with God. Amen.

MORE: Feast of St. Matthew Evangelist

Today the church celebrates Jesus' disciple Matthew. The liturgy for today begins with this collect:

We thank you, heavenly Father, for the witness of your apostle and evangelist Matthew to the Gospel of your Son our Savior; and we pray that, after his example, we may with ready wills and hearts obey the calling of our Lord to follow him; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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