Things went ok on Sunday! Woo Hoo! Here's a longer chunk....
2. People of the Law vs. People of the Land
Enter the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a sect of elite teachers. They differed from the other Jewish priests chiefly in their strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, adherence to oral laws and traditions, and belief in an afterlife and the coming of a Messiah. (dictionary.com) The Pharisees adhered to a strict and exclusive code of conduct. Generally speaking, in Jesus time people were divided into two sections. The first were “The Orthodox”, the religious people. Orthodox is Greek, meaning “right, or correct practice” so the orthodox folks rigidly kept the law in every detail. The Pharisees were part of this division of society. We can thus call the first division People of the Law. The second were classed as the people of the land; they saw the law as petty regulations used by the religious elite to exploit those who are “beneath” them. The orthodox were forbidden to associate with the people of the land in any meaningful way: would not go on a journey with them, do any business with them, give anything to them, or receive anything from them, much less entertain them as guests or be guests in their houses. (Barclay) Again, the people of the law not only obeyed their scriptures, but also followed traditions and teachings of ancient rabbis. One of these teachings was “Keep far from an evil neighbor and do not associate with the wicked”. (Interpreters Bible) So can’t you just hear the uppity tone of the Pharisees, seeing the ilk of people who Jesus had surrounded himself with, scoffing and challenging him in front of his followers saying in verse 11: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” The King James version of the Bible reads: “Why eateth your master with publicans and sinners?” The New Living Translation reads: “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” By spending his time with “tax-collectors and sinners” Jesus was committing a very bold act in the eyes of the holy Jewish priests, he was doing something the pious Pharisees would never do.
3. Jesus Response
Now in verses 12 & 13 we see Jesus responding, fully aware of the political offenses he was making. When we think deeply about Jesus response to the Pharisees, it is an “oh snap” situation. Now, for those of you who don’t speak the vernacular of the young people, “oh snap” is a slang expression used to convey shock or surprise, particularly after a stinging rebuttal in confrontational circumstances. In verse 12 Jesus says “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” The King James Version reads: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” I like the sound of that. Jesus continues to make quick work of the Pharisees by telling them to “Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Jesus quoted from Hosea 6: 6 (which I hope sounds familiar, as it was used as our Old Testament lesson). Jesus is telling the supposed experts that they are not experts. The Pharisees challenged him, trying to embarrass him in front of his followers, and he responds by telling them to go back to school! I’m sure the Pharisees were shocked and surprised indeed. Oh snap. The end of verse 13 contains the crucial element to Jesus message: “For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
Now, let’s read that last part again: “For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” What? Are we to infer that Jesus meant there are some that don’t need him? Is he saying there are some of us that he’s not worried about, because we’re already good enough? Certainly not. “He was not saying that there were some people who were so good that they had no need of anything which he could give; nor was he saying that he was not interested in people who were good…Jesus was saying ‘I did not come to invite people who are so self-satisfied that they are convinced they don’t need anyone’s help; I came to invite people who are very conscious of their sin and desperately aware of their need for a savior” He was saying ‘It is only those who know how much they need me who can accept my invitation.” (Barclay) How do I dare put words in Jesus mouth you may ask? Just think about what he said a few words earlier; he compared himself to a doctor: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.”
4. We’re All Sick.
Think about it. Who here likes to go to the Doctor? If you’ve seen Farris Buehler’s day off, or if you’ve had children, or if you’ve ever thought about faking sick yourself, no one would choose going to the doctor’s office when they’re home sick, that’s worse than going to school! Recently I had some foot problems (probably due to my excessive flip flop wearing). A lot of the staff here at church would see me limping around, and ask if I had seen a doctor. I would answer in the excuse voice, “nah, just hopin it wears off” or try to come up with some lame reason “might just be the weather” or whatever. I made excuses to not want to go see the doctor. Why? Well, 1. it’s expensive and 2. it’s a pain to make an appointment and miss work or get up early or whatever. But really, deep down, the reason I didn’t want to go see a doctor is I was afraid something was wrong. My Dad is diabetic. So I’m genetically pre-disposed to diabetes plus being overweight doesn’t help anything. One of the symptoms of diabetes is foot problems. I didn’t want to go to the doctor because I was scarred I’d have to face some hard consequences and even harder changes. I don’t want to admit that I have problems. So I put off going to the doctor and pretend that everything is fine. That realization made Jesus words so real to me: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” IN ORDER TO SEE A DOCTOR YOU MUST FIRST ADMIT THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH YOU. If not a full admission, at least you have to be open to the possibility of there being something wrong with you. You see in the Pharisee’s world, they’re self-righteous. They are teachers and keepers of the law, so their pride insulates them from the reality of their sin. The Pharisees don’t want to admit that they are sick. They might even be so delusional to think that they’re no way THEY COULD EVER BE SICK. The truth is, we’re all sick. So when Jesus talks about not healing the healthy and not calling the righteous, it’s tongue in cheek. To accept the call of Jesus you have know that you need him. You have to know that you are sinful; you have to know that you’re sick and he is the remedy. Jesus calls everyone, but the “righteous” (or really, self-righteous) do not heed his call.