“When Jesus heard that, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’” (Matthew 9:12-13 NKJV)
Jesus may have gone about getting followers in a strange way (see yesterday’s devotional) but when people committed to Him, they celebrated. After scaring off a bunch of good religious people, He walked by Matthew sitting at his table collecting taxes. Collecting taxes for the Romans. This guy was a traitor to all Jewish ideals and Jesus called on him to follow. When Jesus called someone to follow Him, and they did, they often had parties. Matthew had a party. Guess what kind of people showed up for this party. Tax Collectors and other assorted sinners, perhaps looking for a free meal, showed up. Pharisees in the area called Jesus’s disciples over and asked them if Jesus realized the kind of people He was eating with, and, if so, why would He eat with them? They apparently used a stage whisper, because Jesus, in the middle of the party heard the question and compared those who followed Him to those who needed medical care. Then, Jesus hit the Pharisees hard – giving them a homework assignment: they needed to look up why God desired mercy over sacrifice. I think He hit them with a bit of sarcasm when He said that He had only come to call sinners to repentance, not the righteous since no one is righteous. The Pharisees, however, believed that they were righteous and had no retort for Jesus.
Do you even need Jesus? If you’re righteous enough on your own, of course not. That’s how the Pharisees saw themselves. We know about them. They thought they were righteous and didn’t realize how far away from God they really were. Do you even need Jesus? Yes, because no one is righteous on their own. We all sin. We all fail God. But God’s love is so great in Jesus that He’s willing to fellowship with anyone who follows His Son. So yeah, you want Jesus in your life…you need Jesus in your life.
Lord, I like to think I’m a pretty good human being. In my less stellar moments, I convince myself that You’re lucky to have me as a follower. Then, I’m reminded of my sinfulness. I remember what Jesus endured on the cross so that I could have fellowship with You. Keep me humble, Lord, and let me dwell on Your mercy and grace.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.