Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dinner with Sinners

Redspotted Admiral2

And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” 
Mark 2:15-17

Then Levi hosted a grand banquet for Him at his house. Now there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others who were guests  with them. But the Pharisees and their scribes  were complaining to His disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 
Jesus replied to them, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” 
Luke 5:29-32 

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 9:10-13

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After Matthew, the tax collector, was called to be a disciple of Jesus he held a banquet for Jesus at his house. Apparently tax collectors were not any better liked than our IRS is today. There were two categories of tax collectors. One was the gabbai: those who collected general taxes on land, property, and income. These were referred to as poll or registration taxes; The other was the mokhes: those who collected a wide variety of use taxes. These taxes were like our import duties, business license fees, and toll fees. There were two categories of mokhes: great mokhes hired others to collect taxes for them; small mokhes did their own assessing and collecting. Matthew was a most likely a small mokhe. Attending Matthew's going away party there were likely representatives of both classes. All of them were considered both religious and social outcasts. If just being a tax collector wasn't enough there was much corruption in the that job. There was the taking of bribes, extortion of money by extra fees, and false accusations. Luke 3:13 An honest publican was so rare even in Rome that one publican named Sabinus, who kept a clean reputation in that office, was honored after his death with this inscription, Kaloµs teloµneµsanti—Here lies an honest publican. According to the Pharisees, the tax collectors were sinners. Sinners was a term the Jews used to describe people who had no respect for the Mosaic law or rabbinic traditions. That made these guests the most vile and worthless of all people.


During the first century, middle eastern meals were not eaten while sitting at a table, but while reclining on one’s side on the floor with the head closest to the low table and the feet farthest away. So Jesus was reclining, and dining with a vile group of people. This really agitated the scribes and especially the Pharisees. Pharisees were a legalistic sect of Jews known for their strict devotion to the ceremonial law. Contact with sinners would make Jesus a sinner, since rabbinic regulations specifically prohibited such fellowship. It further irritated the Pharisees because the "sinners" would see this as a gesture of friendship and acceptance. So the Pharisees decided to do something about it. They complained and questioned the disciples of Jesus. They did not directly confront Jesus. Perhaps that says something about their character.

Jesus knew what they were doing. He heard what they said and what they were up to. His answer, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." As a nurse a generally see more of doctors than I want to. I really hate to see a doctor for those "check ups," especially since they seem to be more and more frequent. But when I am sick, well, very sick I will go and see one. I do give in, generally later than I should, and see a doctor. I hate it, but I will admit I need medical help. When I'm well, who needs them!

Here is the dilemma. The Pharisees, were in need of a physician and they either didn't know it or were too bullheaded to admit it. They were sinners. They needed the redemption that only Jesus, who came from heaven, could offer them. Jesus was justified in seeking out sinners to bring them to Himself. The scribes and Pharisees hoped to ruin the reputation of Jesus by calling Him a friend of sinners. The intended insult of the Pharisees has become an endearing tribute to Jesus. All the redeemed gladly acknowledge Him as the friend of sinners, and will love Him eternally for it.

And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. Mark 2:15  I, as a sinner, could attend a dinner with Jesus. I praise God that I was asked to come.  I am filled with joy, that by His grace I am able to be one of the many who follow Him.  I'm still full of sickness, but by His grace — I have a Great Physician.  I do not have to schedule an appointment with this Physician.  I can visit with Him anytime.  Even with my great sickness of sin, I still don't visit as often as I should.  I often wait too long to visit with Him.  Sometimes I let my sickness get worse than I should. My Great Physician is always there to listen and heal. Sometimes the medicine is hard to take. Often the cure is not what I expected. But the cure is permanent and the guaranteed results are eternal.

Have you found your Great Physician.  Have you visited Him recently.  There is no better time than now.



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