Saturday, November 22, 2014

hangin' with the scum

Jesus asked a tax collector to be his disciple.

Tax collectors were on the very bottom of the social ladder - they collaborated with the Romans while getting rich off the people they taxed.

I can imagine the fact that Jesus asked one to be in his inner circle made some of the Pharisees' heads explode!

Matthew 9

 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector's booth.

"Follow me and be my disciple," Jesus said to him.

So Matthew got up and followed him.

10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests,

        along with many tax collectors and other notorious sinners.

11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples,

        "Why does your teacher eat with such scum?"

12 When Jesus heard this, he said,

        "Healthy people don't need a doctor;

        sick people do."

 Then he added, "Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture:

        'I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.'

For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous,

     but those who know they are sinners."

Jesus' rep wasn't very good among the Pharisees, the supposed spiritual leaders & authenticators of the time.

Their attitude, much like the attitude we encounter in Christians here in America, that "holy people" should only hang out with other "holy people".

Back then, if someone hung out with sinners, they were defiled & couldn't worship at the temple.

Nowadays, I think it may be a combination of religious snobbery & just a lack of love & care for people who lack a connection with God.

        It's kinda like if we hang out with "notorious sinners" people will think we must be one, to.

But Jesus pokes holes in that kind of thinking.

And what He says makes sense.

Why should He hang out with people who either have their act together with God, or think they do.

I believe Jesus was giving the Pharisees a slap in the face...

     He didn't say He had not come to call those who ARE righteous...

     He said that He hadn't come to call people who THINK they are righteous.

Anyway, here's the deal - are we the kind of Christ follower that people are inadvertently drawn to?

Is our focus on those who need Him in their lives the most?

Or are we such snobs we don't want to hang with sinful people?

(I wonder where each of us would be today if the very people who influenced us to follow Jesus had felt that way about hanging out with us?)

Jesus said something further along in the chapter that indicated His further concern for "notorious sinners" & not those who fancied themselves the spiritual elite.

Matthew 9

 Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area,

        teaching in the synagogues

        and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom.

And he healed every kind of disease and illness.

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless,

        like sheep without a shepherd.

37 He said to his disciples,

      "The harvest is great,

          but the workers are few.

38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest;

       ask him to send more workers into his fields."

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