Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
Jesus was having a good time with his friends. The problem, it turns out, is that people who are running for office are supposed to ‘win friends and influence the ‘right’ people’ and Jesus was spending his time with people of little consequence and even some who had bad reputations. The Pharisees sidled up to some of his followers and put the bug in their ear, so to speak.
You know he’s going about this all wrong? Those people are going to drag him down, and get him no where. He is spending time with ruffians and people of ill repute. The masses are going to figure out that he isn’t ’in the know’ and start looking elsewhere for someone to follow.
Okay, that isn’t what they said in the bible, but that is the underlying tone.
Jesus’ answer, at first, looks like he is saying that he didn’t come for the people who ’have it all together’, but for those who the Pharisees would consider ’sinners’. However, when you consider the greater Gospel, you begin to realize that Jesus was issuing an invitation.
The Pharisees thought they had it figured out, but Jesus knew that they didn’t. Many times, it is easy to think of our lives as ’put together’ – especially when compared to people who…don’t.
The day before Christmas, I was approached by a woman on the street who was running a pretty decent panhandling scam. She had an elaborate story that, were it not for her obvious hard core addiction, would have been heart wrenching. I realized within myself conflicting emotions – compassion, anger, sadness. The reality is that each of us is no better than that woman. We are desperate. We survive each day utilizing acceptable means of survival to get by.
We may not end up on a street corner lying through our teeth to scam others. Instead we have placed persuasion among the arts. Many people see their relationships as tools in the game of survival.
Jesus came with a better way. In God’s economy, each of us was created for a purpose. That purpose is fulfilled when we meet Jesus at the table with all the other ruffians. We become one of the sick and needy, and the Healer of the Universe recreates us into the people we were intended to be. Interesting that Jesus invites us to partake in communion on a regular basis – to remember all that He did for us so that we could sit at the table with Him and let Him do the healing work in us.
In the first part of Mark 2, Jesus healed a paralytic. At first, he said “your sins are forgiven.” This freaked out the Pharisees, so he changed his wording, and said instead “pick up your bed and walk.” Some of us need to hear “your sins are forgiven” in order to allow Jesus to do the healing that we need so desperately. Others need to hear simply ‘now is the time, pick up your bed and walk.’
One thing is certain. We need a savior. We need someone to save us from our day to day existence and help us to become the human beings we were created to be. Human beings find life beyond mere survival. They find creative purpose. Are you looking for something deeper? God is the answer. He issues the call today “Join me at the table. Your sins are forgiven, pick up your bed and walk.”