By Brooke Holt
“But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘Those who are well have not 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 9:12-13
I always appreciated it when the pediatrician’s office offered the “well” side and the “sick” side. As a bit of a germophobe, when my children went for well visits, I always kept them as far as possible from the “sick” side. I just didn’t want to mix with all those germs. Seriously, who wants to get sick from going to the doctor’s office?
The Pharisees thought this way, too. Keep the sick, dirty sinners away so we can remain pure and holy. To accomplish this, they had to make many assumptions and judgements about people. They had to live on guard to stay clear of those “sick” people.
In contrast to them was the most holy and pure human that ever lived. Jesus was not afraid of sin and sickness. Instead, Jesus sat down right in the middle of the “sick” section for he was the great physician. Jesus was quite comfortable in that sick section, much more comfortable there than in the domain of the Pharisees. Why would that be?
The Pharisees were uptight, mean, critical, and always looking for someone to make a mistake. They chose to love themselves instead of others. The Pharisees thought so highly of themselves that they did not see true holiness and love in the person of Jesus. Instead of seeing their sin in the light of his presence, they hid behind pretention and judgement. Yet, darkness and sickness lurked beneath their religious coverings.
Matthew and his corrupt company were just the opposite. In Jesus, they saw a holy man who exposed their sin. Instead of hiding their sin, they allowed Jesus to meet them where they were, to love them, and to call them into new life and new beginnings. In Jesus, they found much needed healing. That healing empowered them to make better choices and to change their lifestyles. Jesus desired to show them this mercy that would transform them from the inside out.
Meanwhile, the Pharisees focused on making external sacrifices for sin. They consistently went through religious motions but never let the Lord deal with their hard hearts. They may have been sitting in the “well” section, but their insides were quite sick!
What about you? Do you hide your sin from the Lord making excuses or covering up your wrong thinking and actions, or do you allow God’s light to shine into your darkness and draw you to repentance and renewal. Jesus is not afraid of your sin. He died to forgive it.
Take time today to ask the Lord to search your heart. Is there sin and sickness there that he wants to heal? Allow him to love you and to pour out his grace upon you. There, you will find healing and the faithful way forward with him. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Our honest prayer before God is evidence that we understand the ways He loves, cherishes, sees, and hears us. Through prayer, we can acknowledge with Hagar, “You are the living One who sees me” (Genesis 16:14). When we pray, we are affirming the same. Why do we often hide from this privilege? Why do we avoid God, the One who sees us as we are and stands ready to provide and answer us in his holy, timely way? In this 8-week study on the prayers of Job, Ruth, Hannah, and David, grow your prayer life by facing your honest need and bringing your whole self before God. Acknowledging God as the One who guides your path can change your heart. It can take you past fear and into faith, strength, and hope. Learn more about Honest Prayer.
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