Eating With Sinners, # 20

Courtesy of Holy Spirit Catholic Church

“And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, 

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew 9:11-13 (context vv. 10-13)

God is not against us because of our sin. He is with us against our sin. We barely believe this. It doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s one of those pure and unadulterated grace ideas and somehow that just might confuse us. It’s counter-intuitive to everything we know; and it’s the tragic way of the religious world.

Jesus is now sitting and eating with sinners!

Can we even grasp how amazing this is? His guests at the table were the awful–the nasty dregs of a nice proper society. Tax collectors who had renounced Judaism for Rome. There were the sinners who were the unacceptable. (Even the whores and the drunks showed up!) Can’t He do any better than this?

It seems to me we’re living in this world ‘blind and dumb’ to what grace really is. Our legal analysis seems right on, but we have to admit we’ll sometimes operate under certain dictates of a ‘comfortable’ propriety instead. “What can we do to merit God’s love and become acceptable?” How can we truly fellowship with a God who is completely holy?

We see (or read) of the Lord who chooses to fellowship with the ungodly rather than the religious. That shakes us to the core, as it should. He loves associating with unacceptable people. That alone should floor us-and maybe scare us too.

The religious Pharisees found ‘grace’ to be unacceptable. They walked and breathed legalism. Keeping the Law was their way to be acceptable in God’s eyes. And they were now angry, or maybe somewhat mystified, by Jesus’ incredible desire to associate with evil people. But they’re misunderstanding the grace and mercy that resides in God’s heart.

Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.

–Anne Lamott

Do we seriously understand the kindness and grace of Jesus? Does it ‘saturate’ your mind and heart? Are you completely ‘marinated’ in God’s outrageous love for you, the ugly? Think about this; ‘Could it be that pharisees are still alive and well today?’

Eating with sinners. We read that the Pharisees objected. It strikes me that these guys were trying to attack Jesus by ‘splitting’ the disciples from Him. They wanted them to question His actions. This is Satan’s strategy.”Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” ‘Why’ seems to be the voice of the disbelieving and ‘ungraceful.’

Mercy is always better that any “sacrifice” we can make. Does this bother you? (It should.)

The ‘healthy’ don’t need any help. No doctor’s appointments are necessary. And yet Jesus chooses out the sinners” instead. You need to understand this, to be called like this is the ultimate gift. Grace for the ungraceful is unreal. It seems oddly unnatural. And yet the Father’s grace is now waiting for you. You must believe this.

What are you struggling with?

What ‘distracts you? What are you trying to do to be ‘righteous’ in God’s eyes? Do you really believe that He desperately wants to sit down and have a meal with you, just as you are?

“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.

-Anne Lamott

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