It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. – Vs 17
Chapter two records the beginning of Jesus' conflict with the religious leaders of His day. His ministry has just begun and the tension begins to build. Because of His "new" teaching with authority and His miracles, Jesus is attracting huge crowds and gaining in popularity, which is not sitting well with the religious leadership. Rather than listen to His message of hope and acknowledge the power behind His miracles, they accuse Him of blasphemy – charging Him with claiming to be God. Only God can forgive sins, yet here is Jesus telling the paralytic that his sins are forgiven (Vs 5-12). Jesus understands what they are thinking and so He heals the man to prove His authority and His divinity. But they refuse to see.
But they DO see Him eating with tax collectors and sinners. He not only ate with them, but He chose a tax collector as one of His followers. For the religious leaders, this was appalling. They could not fathom the idea of associating with people like this. In fact, they did everything they could to avoid contact with them. And here was Jesus sharing a meal with them. Do you see the conflict? Do you sense the tension? Jesus was a revolutionary. He came to rock the status quo of His day. He came to turn the religious world on its ear. He had a different message and a different methodology. Rather than separate Himself from sinners and sequester Himself in a protective religious cocoon, Jesus walked right into the middle of the mess that had become humanity. In doing so, Jesus gives us an example to follow.
Jesus came to save those who are in need. He came to heal the spiritually sick and to save sinners. The very people He was eating with were those who knew they could not keep the Law. They knew they were sinners. They were constantly reminded by the Pharisees of their failure to keep the Law. Not only were they unable to keep the commands of God, they couldn't keep the hundreds of rules and regulations the Pharisees had added to God's Law. They were overwhelmed by their own guilt and sinfulness, and they lacked hope.
The Great Invitation
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus makes a statement that has come to be known as "The Great Invitation." He says:
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Jesus invites all those who are weary and heavy-laden. Those who are worn out from trying to keep the Law and obey the rules of men. Those who are weighed down by the constant reminder and realization that they can't live righteous lives on their own. They are carrying around a burden of guilt and shame that is too much to bear. They are sinners and they know it, but they can't do anything about it. So Jesus offers them rest. He offers them relationship. He offers to His yoke in place of their burden. He invites them to step into a discipleship relationship with Him. These people knew what a yoke was and what it was for. It was an instrument used for farming. It involved work and effort. But here is Jesus inviting them to leave one source of burden and take up another. But His comes with rest. His comes with companionship – the realization that you will be in that yoke with the Savior Himself. You will be working alongside Him doing His work. You will be walking alongside Him, learning from Him.
Jesus is still calling sinners into a relationship with Him. He is still offering rest for our souls. He is still inviting us to get into the yoke with Him. He offershelp while the self-righteous religious elite offer only condemnation. He offers rest while the "righteous" offer an endless list of rules and regulations to keep. He offers relationship while religion offers a daily diet of guilt and shame. Jesus came to heal the sick. He came to save sinners. He came to give rest to the weary. Are you in the yoke? Are you finding rest for your soul? Have you experienced the healing touch of the Great Physician? His offer still stands.
Father, thank You for sending Your Son for me. Thank You for providing healing for my spiritual disease. Thank You providing Me with rest from the burden of sin and the heavy weight of trying to save myself. I am in the yoke with Him. I don't always like it. Sometimes I try to get out of the yoke and go back to my old way of life, trying to make myself righteous through self effort. But it always fails and leaves me tired, worn out and burdened down. Keep me in the yoke with Your Son. Help me lean on Him and learning from Him. And give me a heart for the sinners who surround me. Let me see them with your eyes and point them to the yoke. Amen