As Jesus passed by from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax collection office. He said to him, â€œFollow me.â€ He got up and followed him. It happened as he sat in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to his disciples, â€œWhy does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?â€
When Jesus heard it, he said to them, â€œThose who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick do. But you go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.â€ Matthew 9:9-13 (WEB)
I see myself as a disciple of Jesus. I am not just a believer. I made the decision in 1995 to not only believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord but to follow Him and live my life by His example.
I admit that there was a time in my life about a few years ago when I had decided that being a â€˜discipleâ€™ had too high a cost. I was on a mission trip in Hungary and while there my youngest sonâ€™s cancer reoccurred. For 10 days I â€˜wrestledâ€™ with God about this question of cost. I came out of that time knowing that the cost was high to be His disciple. But the cost of not being His disciple was even higher. Not having an intimate relationship with Him, for me, meant that I would be confused and beat up and have no clue of â€˜whyâ€™ or assurance that He cared. I needed His outpouring of faith. So I walked on.
Jesusâ€™ statement of about the healthy and the sick and the righteous and the sinners is found not only in Matthew but in Mark and Luke also. But Matthew is the only one that mentions the prophet Hoseaâ€™s words about desiring mercy not sacrifice.
I believe this is why God led me to this Scripture today. I know a young man who has struggled with his relationship with God. He wants very much to be a disciple and walk the path behind Jesus but over and over he stumbles and falls off the path for months, a few years. He feels such guilt. His guilt is not unfounded and I have heard several well-meaning Christians say that they have no more patience with him. â€œLetâ€™s wait until he is ready to be serious!â€ I admit that I, too, like people who are hungry for God and excited to be in Bible study and come to worship every Sunday and Wednesdays in-between. But I wouldnâ€™t want to put my spiritual life up for that kind scrutiny for the last 15+ years.
Jesusâ€™ statement to the Pharisees doesnâ€™t sound to me like a mandate about just salvation. He doesnâ€™t say that people are â€˜dyingâ€™. He says they are â€˜sickâ€™. Their spiritual life is not healthy like He, the Great Physician, desires it to be. It is out of â€˜syncâ€™ or â€˜sickâ€™ â€“ not dead. There is hope for Godly spiritual health as far as Jesus is concerned. And who am I to say different?
Jesus told me to â€œGo and make disciplesâ€. He didnâ€™t say it would be easy. He didnâ€™t say they would all be healthy students. He didnâ€™t even say that they would all accept the prescribed â€˜treatmentâ€™. They might get sicker before they got better and they may even â€˜relapseâ€™.
Jesus came to call those who are sick and are sinners. He came to call me. And as His disciple I am here for the sick and the sinners. Jesus is here for me and all my flaws. â€œGo and do likewise, Jody!â€ He says.
â€œI’m following You, Jesus!â€