As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples.When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
When you’re sick—I mean REALLY sick—where do you go? Most of us are going to find a doctor! Maybe we wait for an appointment the next day, but when we feel REALLY crummy, we’re probably going to rush to a walk-in-clinic or emergency room. The symptoms tell us there is a problem and we want to know what it is! Not only that—we want the cure! When we know we’re sick, a trip to the doctor becomes a no brainer.
There’s a reason Jesus uses an analogy about doctors and sick people to teach us about spiritual sickness. Recognizing spiritual sickness really is no different than recognizing physical sickness. We look for the symptoms. Felt imperfect or guilty lately? Why is that? Just some silly emotions? No. They’re God-given symptoms to help us see the need for a doctor.
The Pharisees you read about above had become so comfortable with the way they lived their lives—so confident that God was pleased with them on account of how they lived their lives that they honestly thought they were healthy. The proof was in the pudding. They made a distinction between themselves and the “horrible” people Jesus was eating with. The Pharisees couldn’t believe Jesus would eat with people who were spiritually “sick.” The only problem was they weren’t any healthier than the people eating with Jesus.
Our symptoms may differ, but we’re all spiritually sick. We’re all unable to perfectly obey the God who created all things. If left untreated, that spiritual sickness will eventually kill us and separate us from God eternally.
The good news is, we have a doctor—the ultimate doctor! He’s such a great doctor he even takes the time to make sure we know we’re sick and in need of care!! No matter how good we think we are, when Jesus holds his standard of perfection before our eyes, we can’t help but see we’ve failed. We’re sick! It hurts to come to that realization but it’s so very necessary. Because it’s when we see the need for a doctor that Jesus comes to us and tells us we’re already healed! His blood has washed our sins away. Thanks to Jesus, we are healed from the cancer of sin that had permeated our souls since conception!
If you’re old enough to read this, you’ve probably been physically sick enough to recognize the symptoms when they show up. The next time you feel guilty or imperfect remember those are symptoms of your spiritual sickness—a trip to the doctor is a no brainer! There you’ll not only find temporal healing, you’ll find the eternal cure!
Blessings as you celebrate the 4th!