Dunbar Cave Campus Pastor
“And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Many sinners. Not one or two but many. The masses of sinners. That is who Jesus sat and ate with. Sometimes we confuse abstaining from worldliness with abstaining from the world. But Jesus spent time with sinners. He hung out with those who the religious folks wouldn’t hang out with. The religious folks only would eat and dine with other religious folks. In the name of “holiness” or “guarding themselves” or “being careful,” they isolated themselves from worldly people.
Maybe you’ve heard statements like this: “You have to stay away from worldly people or they will influence you.” “I can’t believe they live like that.” “You can’t be friends with sinners.”
If we are not careful, we will identify with the religious leaders in this story rather than Jesus Himself. While we should not be influenced to sin, we should influence wordly people with the gospel. While we are not “of” the world, we are “in” the world to be a light. While we are to stay away from sin, we are not to stay away from sinners; you cannot fulfill the Great Commission if you do.
If you only minister to and do life with other Christians, then you have missed the heart of Matthew 9. Jesus says it is not the healthy that needs a doctor, it is the sick. That is why He spent time and ate with the lost. Are we identifying with the heart and mission of Jesus or are we identifying with the religious leaders in the story? May the former be true in your life.