Daily Devotional: Day 73
“When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:12-13, NKJV).
After Jesus called Matthew to follow Him, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus at table. The Pharisees noticed it, and they weren’t pleased. Consequently, they complained to Jesus’ disciples saying, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus heard the complaint and defended his actions by pointing the Pharisees to the Scripture in Hosea 6:6, where God says He desires mercy and not sacrifice. Let’s briefly examine Jesus’ response to find out what this Scripture passage means for us today.
The Pharisees criticized Jesus, because they didn’t understand His mission. They only saw the “bad optics,” so to speak, of Him hanging out with sinful people. They saw only the surface and didn’t realize that Jesus was, and is, the Heavenly Physician who heals the sin problem that ruins sinners. Jesus needed to welcome the sick so He could heal them. He needed to welcome sinners so he could set them free from the bondage of sin and offer them the freedom of righteousness.
Jesus saw beyond the surface. He saw broken people who needed healing and restoration; he saw sinners who could be transformed into saints for God’s glory. And only by welcoming them could He save them. But notice that after welcoming them, Jesus saved them from their sinful conditions by calling them to repentance.
In our world today, masses of people, especially the youth, are confused by current trends in the media and the educational system. The Church can’t afford to add to the confusion. If the Church doesn’t wake up and name things for what they are; if we treat sin lightly in the name of the often-misguided notion of inclusiveness and a vague understanding of love, many souls will be lost and their blood will be on our hands. True, Jesus loved and welcomed sinners. We should do likewise. Yet, we also know that Jesus didn’t shy away from naming sin and calling sinners to repentance. So, why should we be different?
Jesus welcomed sinners, but He didn’t allow sinners to set the agenda or the tone for His ministry. He was loving, caring, compassionate, merciful, forgiving, direct, blunt and unapologetic, all at the same time. Lesson for the Church today is: Welcome sinners, but don’t let them dictate what you can preach and what you can’t preach. Welcome sinners, but don’t fall into the trap of political correctness.
Our modern society is corrupting morals and encouraging – even celebrating – immorality. If the trend continues, we won’t need an expert to tell us what will happen in the near future. We the Church, have a divine mandate to rescue the perishing. Our weapon is love plus truth. It’s unwise and utterly irresponsible to ask sinners to come as they are and neglect to call them to repentance. The only hope for sinners is love and truth; not love divorced from truth. Love is meaningless if it is not accompanied by truth. And truth is powerless if it is not accompanied by love. We have a golden opportunity to bless this generation with the power of Christ’s love and the power of His truth.
Dear Father, your will is for all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Empower your Church to minister love, truth and repentance to this world. And as we do that, bless our efforts with a harvest of repentance and salvation. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
For further study: Titus 2:11-15