Yesterday, I was talking with someone about our relationship with God in Christ. When Jesus Christ walked the earth 2000 years ago, those who considered themselves to be “right with God” (i.e., righteous) often complained that Jesus continued to hang out with the dregs of society.
For example, look at this passage:
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 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.” (Matthew 9:9-13 ESV)
Tax collectors were rejected by the Jews. Yet, Jesus invited one to be one of his closest disciples, and he even ate at that sinner’s house. In other passages, Jesus was condemned for associating with prostitutes. Jesus surrounded himself with sinners, the lowest rung of religious society, those rejected by “the righteous.”
In response to this rejection, Jesus said two things:
1) God desires mercy, and not sacrifice.
2) Jesus is here for sinners, not the righteous.
How do we respond to Jesus’ words here? How do we respond to sinners in our society? How would Jesus respond? Is Jesus still with the sinners today, or does he only hang out with the righteous?
And, finally, how do we see ourselves? Are we the sinners or the righteous?