“Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with such scum?’ When Jesus heard this, he said, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do.’” Matthew 9:10-12 (New Living Translation)
“Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. ‘What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riff-raff?’ Jesus, overhearing, shot back, ‘Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick?’” Matthew 9:10-12 (The Message)
“This is such a fundamental insight,” Ortberg tells us, that it’s as if each of us comes with an “As-Is” tag – bargain basement, clearance rack, non-refundable… “As-Is.” And, “because we know in our hearts that this is not the way we’re supposed to be, we try to hide our weirdness. Every one of us pretends to be healthier and kinder than we really are; we all engage in what might be called ‘depravity management.’”
If Ortberg is right, then there is no one outside of Jesus’ reach, no one who isn’t eligible to receive the medicinal treatments of the Savior. In light of the Matthew 9 text, this would mean that not even the self-righteous, snobbical Pharisees are beyond hope of healing, no matter how desperately they might try to cover up their ailments.
Every last one of us is weird, flawed, slightly irregular, sick. Sick, and in need of a doctor who specializes in our unique area of what’s-gone-wrong. The joy of today’s Word is that THIS is WHY Jesus came!
Jesus called a low-life tax collector to be one of His followers. One of His inner circle. One of His friends.
Jesus regularly ate meals with those who had been publicly labeled “As-Is,” unlike most of us who look pretty darn healthy on the surface, but whose family and close friends could tell you otherwise. With or without the stamp of disapproval, we all fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
We’re all in the same, sinking boat unless Jesus rescues us.
Today’s application piece is going to be challenging for us, especially for those of us whose lines are clearly drawn in the sand. It’s time that we, as followers of this Jesus who enjoyed the company of those whose lives were colored outside of the lines, learn to embrace our own “As-Is” identity as a way to bridge the chasm between the haves and the have-nots, the sick and the healthy, the outcasts and the in-crowd.
We simply cannot embrace the whole of another, flaws and all, until we have recognized and learned to love ourselves (flaws and all).
Jesus came for the sick, and it’s time we own up to the fact that we aren’t well without Him.
On our own, we’re a colossal mess.
Such a realization lays us low and minimizes the differences we love to perpetuate between people, between classes, between those with status and those without. Maybe today’s App for you is to be laid low, humbled before the Great Physician.
For the rest of us, a literal interpretation of this short text calls for a new direction in ministry. My Pastor made the observation that he isn’t excited about growth in the church when the majority of new members have transferred in from other ‘flocks.’ What gets his heart pumping and our collective adrenaline flowing is when people make their way to the Body of Christ by way of the hospital gurney – sick souls who have finally found the source of their eventual healing.
If we are to continue Jesus’ ministry in this world, it is imperative that we sit down to meals with society’s ailing members and rub elbows with those who exist outside our social and political lines. In Jesus’ day, that would be the tax collectors and prostitutes. Today, for you and me, the door is wide open and the need is intense. You can fill in your own blank, but if you’ve been healed by the One Who came to save, then you have a ministry among others in need of saving.
Look around you as you live your life today.
Whose “As-Is” tag is showing?
Tempting as it may be to tuck it in, smile awkwardly instead and remember that this is who Jesus’ heart beats for.
If you can’t hear it, grab a stethoscope and try again.