'The Tax Collectors and Sinners Blues Band'
Wednesday, March, 29, 2017 | 2:46 PM | by Munholland
That was the name of a band at my college. They were great musicians that could play some mean riffs. They also had a way with lyrics from the hilarious to the holy. They got their name from the calling of Matthew in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 9. When Matthew invited Jesus to have dinner with him, many other tax collectors and sinners came to check out the spectacle. Some probably thought a rabbi eating with Matthew was hilarious. Perhaps others wanted to see if there would be any fireworks. Still others were curious about what a man like Jesus would say to a man like Matthew. But there they all were feasting, talking, and wondering.
The Pharisees, on the other hand, stood outside aghast that a rabbi would eat with tax collectors and sinners. They wouldn't touch one of those sinners with a ten-foot pole unless it was to push them over a cliff! 'Why' they asked Jesus' disciples, 'does he eat with them?!' Jesus beautifully replied, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.' Jesus extended a personal invitation to people as diverse as Matthew and Peter, Mary and Martha, Thomas and Judas, Mary Magdalene and Joanna, Andrew and Nathanael. Jesus went to the sick who were far from God, and close to God. He invited the rich and the poor, the betrayers and the faithful. While the Pharisees only saw sinners for what they had done or who they presently were, Jesus saw a beautiful future with their lives intertwined with the life of God. There was no place that Jesus wouldn't venture to invite them into this new life.
Jesus expects the same of us. In the 'High Priestly Prayer', Jesus prays directly for us to go to the tax collectors and sinners.
'My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.' (John 17:15-18)
Jesus prepares us with protection, purification, and a clear mission to go to the sick wherever they may be. The Pharisees worried that being with sinners would contaminate them. We know, however, that wherever Jesus goes there is healing. Jesus' mission has become our mission, to go to those both near and far and offer the healing power of God.
Who has God called you to go to? You have been blessed to be a blessing so that tax collectors and sinners no longer have to sing the blues.
Blessed to be a blessing,