Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The Inner Pharisees

The Pharisees grumbled to the disciples of Jesus, "Why does he eat with sinners?" 
And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, "It is not the well who have need of  a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Mark 2)

And in doing so, Jesus declared with decisive and irrevocable glory: I am the friend of sinners. 

Every time I remember this I am relieved.  If Jesus is a friend of sinners, then I qualify. Hallelujah! Hallelujah- he didn't come to call good people, but sinners! What 'qualifies' me for him is my need for him. And wow, do I need him?!

There are thousands of ways in which my "inner pharisee" would tell me that I'm not worthy of Jesus; that Jesus wants happy, free, confident, fearless, fully sanctified followers. 

So as I approach Jesus, I know, the grumbling will start. 

The inner pharisees will say, "Why would Jesus eat with those who are sad? Who've got themselves in ridiculous traps? Who wander off like sheep? Why would Jesus want anything to do with someone with so empty a future? Whose life is enriched in darkness and despair? Why would Jesus have anything to do with you- you're insecure, you're foolish, and you don't even know how to pray! You don't know what you're doing, where you're going, and your life so far is a little bit of a mess. And now you're also really stressed. Really, you still think Jesus wants anything to do with you?" 

But the truth is: 

It is not the carefree that need a Comforter, but the mourning.
It is not the free that need a Liberator, but the enslaved.
It is not roaring lions that need a Shepherd, but bleating sheep. 
It is not the sun-soaked that need a Light to shine, but those who dwell in a land of deep darkness. 
It is not those whose futures are all mapped out who need a Hope, but the despairing. 
It is not the confident who need a Refuge, but the insecure.
It is not the intelligent that need the Wisdom of God, but the foolish. 
It is not the perfect prayer warriors that need an Intercessor, but those who struggle to cry, "Abba, Father."
It is not those who ace all their relationships that need a Counselor, but the broken hearted.
It is not the competent that need a Guide, but the confused. 
It is not the calm that need the Prince of Peace, but those who are stressed. 
It is not the righteous that need the Crucified Christ, but sinners. 

I'm so encouraged that Jesus comes to be good news to the worst of situations. He comes to make the saddest hearts to sing, to set free those who are in the worst of captivity and oppression, to bring sight to the blindest eyes to bring hope to those situations that really do seem the most inescapably and brutally and eternally hopeless- the worst of those- , and to shine a light on those who dwell in the most suffocating and impenetrable of darknesses. 

This is why the angels could announce that his birth was "of great joy for all the people": because there is no one so poor, so weak, so sinful, so oppressed, so beyond hope- that they do not qualify for Him. His kindness, his grace, his freedom and his redemption. 

Jesus, friend of sinners. Friend of mine! 

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
Matthew 5: 4

"On those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shined."
Isaiah 9:4 

"This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance; Christ Jesus came in to the world to save sinners..."
1 Timothy 1:15 

"Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ might rest on me."
2 Corinthians 12:9 

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock, If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." 
Revelation 3: 21

1 comment:

  1. How come I never read this one before? From now on,it is my favorite post. I can´t stop crying. Oh Jesus! What would we do without Him?



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