Scripture:  “And as Jesus reclined at table in (Matthew the tax collector’s) house, 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 (Jesus) heard it he said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick.  (Tell you what…) Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’—For I came not to call the righteous but sinners.”  Matt 9:10-13

 

Observation:   I have often wondered what I am supposed to do—avoid sinners or embrace them.  I don’t know that the Word of God is black and white clear here.  I think there is something in the background that I am supposed to know…

 

Application:   Once upon a time someone I know “dared” me to take my Christianity and go evangelize—inside a local “gentleman’s club.”

 

I didn’t go.

 

That was still a good decision.  I wouldn’t change that decision even today and, in fact, I would emphatically counsel against that—if anyone asked.

 

Here is a definitive story about the new disciple Matthew, gathering at Matthew’s home for pizza and snacks, with a number of Matthew’s current circle of friends–and presumably having a good old time.

 

Pharisees snooping around caught wind of this and asked the disciples (not Jesus), “Uh, huh—I see your Master eating and drinking with sinners…what’s up with that?  Doesn’t look real godly to me…”

 

Isn’t that just like some folks?  Looking for the “gotcha” moment and addressing some weak link in the group?  Pharisees are not just some snobby religious dudes, they are smart fellows—and they were asking a bunch of fishermen what is going on?

 

This is an example of shepherd caring for the sheep under his care; exhibition of care for the disciples.  Sometimes I have to relax and let the one in charge answer the questions while I learn.  When I want to be thought a fool, all I have to do is open my mouth.

 

Jesus answered the Pharisees with the Word of God—quite in the same way He answered the devil in the wilderness.  Clear.  Compact.  Succinct.  No arguing, no stretching out of a discussion, also didn’t look for that “edge” into trying to “minister” to the Pharisees—just saw the situation, and was ready with an answer.

 

I want to be like that, ready with not only an answer for the Hope that is in me, but a good answer.

 

Prayer:   Spirit, keep me from being arrogant with biblical answers, nor flippant, non-committal, or shy and fearful.  I want to look a person soberly in the eyes and be able to say “Tell you what.  Let me tell you of the God of all Creation and his Gospel for the world.”  I want to be able to communicate the whole Gospel and all it entails.  AMEN.