Matthew 9: 9 (ESV) As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
10. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.
11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
13 Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”.
Taking a closer look at this passage, Jesus was accused of one thing that Christians are not accused of today. Although we quote the phrase; “Love the sinner and hate the sin”, we seldom practise what we preach. Quite often, we hate both the sin and the sinner. Jesus had many titles like Master, Teacher, Lord, Saviour, God, but one major title He had was “Friend of Sinners”. Looking at the Bible passages above, not only was Jesus found in the house of Matthew the tax collector, He was also eating with both tax collectors and wicked sinners. Tax collectors can be likened to the corrupt politicians and government officials of our time, who steal public funds for their own benefit. Imagine Jesus with us on earth at this time and you hear that He is relaxing in the house of a well-known corrupt politician or government official, what would be your reaction? Would you speak well of Jesus, or will you, like the Pharisees, ask why He is with those recognised are thieves?
Then imagine Jesus sitting also with those labelled as gays and lesbians; those ostracized from the community, whose sins attract a punishment of imprisonment. How would you see Jesus? Would you still refer to Him as your Saviour or would you count Him as being one of them? Jesus wasn’t dinning with them in order to affirm what they were doing. Rather He dined with them because He knew they had a void in them that needed to be filled; they were sick and needed a physician to heal them, not condemn them. Like the two stories in Luke 18 and 19; Luke 18:18-24 presents a rich young ruler who appeared to be self-righteous and wanted to show off his acts of righteousness before Jesus, saying “I have kept all of the commandments from my youth”. He felt he was a candidate of eternal life because of his actions. But this ruler went away in sorrow when Jesus pointed out to him he still lacked something.
Luke19: 1-10 is about a tax collector (corrupt politician) who heard that Jesus was coming to Jericho and climbed on a tree to see HIM. Our Lord Jesus went home with Zacchaeus to eat and spent the night. He wasn’t there to condemn Zacchaeus, but to show so much love that would compel this sinner to change his ways. In our society, we are driven by guilt and condemnation and we feel that that’s the best way to make sinners repent. But feeling remorseful or guilty does not necessarily lead to repentance. Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus was so full of guilt that he went to return the money given to him by the high priest. But this only led him to commit suicide. Peter also sinned. But his response was different; Peter saw the love of God but Judas saw his own self.
Are you struggling with any sin; lying, cheating, adultery, fornication, masturbation, homosexuality? Jesus sees all these in you but He has chosen to love you and be your friend. People might have rejected you, the government might have put up a penalty for that. But Jesus put so much value on you that He came to die for you. If you were the only sinner in the world, He would have still died for you. Look away from yourself, look up to Jesus who is ready to come in and dine with you. His love is unfailing and unconditional. If you will accept Him, He will come in and revive every area of your life. And like Zaccheaus He will say to you, “Today has salvation come to you, my child”.
Say this prayer with belief in your heart; “Lord Jesus, I heard that You are a friend of sinners. I also heard that You are the saviour. I accept You into my life today, I cannot live another day without Your love, come in and dine with me Lord. Thank You for giving me a brand new life, thank You for saving me. Amen
Article by Caleb Egwuenu for Charis Ville Capsules.
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