In Matthew 9:12 Jesus told the people complaining about him spending time with sinners of his generation that “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”. Jesus spent time with the “bad bunch” in order to give them the hope they were looking for; Jesus ate with sinners. He prayed with sinners. He healed sinners. He slept in their houses. As long as they were willing to listen, he spoke. If they were willing to answer, he called them. Those who had the law and “lived by the law” could not understand why the Messiah, who was supposed to be the righteous king would spend time with the unsavory. But Jesus did spend time with them, always reminding them to turn from their ways and live good lives.
Whether it be a tax collector; known at the time for taking extra to cover their fees, hot tempered men who wanted to fight for any reason, or the downright unsavory, Jesus listened to them or spoke to them the words of hope. They were not beyond redemption. In fact, Jesus mentions only ONE thing we would not be forgiven for, to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. So if any of the unsavories were willing to listen and to take his message and apply it to their way of living, he went to them. As word spread that the Messiah had come people wondered; those who went to Jesus, he spoke to. Those who held back for fear of being rejected, Jesus went to them and even stayed in some of their homes.
For those who had made the laws a mental prison, Jesus spoke candidly to them as well; so the complaints were not simply about him spending time with sinners. It is because sinners (people who were from the wrong side of the tracks) were left out of social circles with those who were considered righteous. No self-respecting leader would go among them, right? God made it a point to show up when he was testing his people and they turned to others for help instead of calling on him. But God had said that he “would not give his glory to another or his praise to worthless idols”. And he sent his son to all men. Jesus knew he was the word of God and that God saw fit to send his word to do as he intended, and to die in the place of all sinners. In doing so, anyone who believed in him would turn and be saved. Jesus knew his message and the children he was sent to redeem for a father who loved them unconditionally.
That includes you. Nothing you have done in your life disqualifies you from the salvation God provided from the foundation of the world. Even if you have misused Jesus’ name as he counsels in Matthew 12:31; “anyone who blasphemes the son of man will be forgiven”. So the only thing standing in the way of you and Jesus are your own choices when you are called. Jesus’ coming and dying and coming back to life invited each and every one of us to come to the table, just by believing in him. The elders preached to the world that by believing, when the time of the harvest comes, you will be counted and saved from the terrible and dreadful day when even the mountains will run for cover from the wrath of God.
What those who complained could not understand at the time was that Jesus spoke to the sinners to invite them into the kingdom of heaven. He was preparing a people who would praise God and give him the glory he desired from his people; a nation of priests from a people who are not a people who will live with Jesus in the new kingdom of eternal peace. This is why Jesus went to those who knew they were lost and were looking for hope and a purpose in life.
Jesus came into the world to save as many people from the coming wrath, up till the very last moment. This was his commission from God; to bear the wrath that God intended to bring on the world he made so that the people he made would not have to suffer. Jesus did not come bringing fire and brimstone, but a message that if we believe in him we will be saved from the day when everything you can see now will be destroyed in one momentous fiery doom. He calls to the sinners and spends time with them because they are who need him the most. The more we need him, the more time and effort he expends to get us to listen if we answer his call.
While we hustle and bustle with life and its cares and “discoveries”, remember that we cannot educate away everything. But we can get knowledge by turning to Jesus to accept God’s grace; turn to Christ and fear God and give him glory because the day is turning. We are the reason Jesus came to earth and we are the reason he will be coming back to claim those who claim him by believing his message.
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