“While He was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came as guests to eat with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ But when He heard this, He said, ‘Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Matthew 9:10-13 (HCSB)
A few days before I moved to California, I saw my (soon-to-be) new boss on Larry King Live. Just before a commercial break, Larry figured he’d catch Pastor Greg Laurie on a trick question. Larry asked, “Greg, isn’t religion just a crutch?”
Pastor Greg quickly retorted, “Larry, for me, it’s not just a crutch. It’s a whole hospital!”
What’s up with “the church” that so many have lost their perception of being a hospital? Is it wrong to enter a hospital and admit you need care? Why are people afraid to approach their congregation similarly? We praise the hospital triage staff for quickly diagnosing our condition and immediately rushing us into treatment. Why do people in the church have a stigma about “diagnosing” a sin issue and promptly suggesting a proper course of treatment, in this case, discipleship?
The Pharisees were in denial. They ministered in the synagogue more than anyone, yet they denied their own need for inner healing. “How could the ‘doctors’ need medical attention?” was their attitude. Doctors? They couldn’t heal themselves, much less anyone else. Yet, they criticized Jesus for healing and associating with patients they dismissed as untreatable or “uninsured,” as it were.
Before the Great Physician heals us, we must humbly present ourselves for His diagnosis. Then, we must trust His prognosis and submit to His treatment plan, which will lead to our wellness. I once had a doctor prescribe me medicine and say, “Take every pill.” The moment I felt better, I quit the prescription, only to get sick again.
In today’s passage, Jesus made a house call. Matthew risked his reputation to 1) Show his friends that he was (spiritually) healed and 2) Introduce his (spiritually) ill friends to Messiah. Jesus honored that risk.
The Church is supposed to be a spiritual hospital, with its members acting as paramedics. God calls us to seek and serve the lost and needy. We exist to search out the sick and dying, share our stories of crisis and healing, and bring the people back to the “hospital” for ongoing care and community.
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