January 12, 2016: Day 9 – Matthew 9

I’m sitting in the sanctuary and it is 7:30. I love this time of the week. I tend to be by myself and there is a quiet and a peacefulness in this sanctuary as I lift up my praises and petitions to the Lord. Every Tuesday from 7:30-8 I’m in here seeking the way of the Lord. Today I get to read Matthew 9 and think of how this chapter can touch all of your lives as it has touched mine. You will notice that this chapter, like the ones preceding it and all of Matthew for the most part, contains events in Jesus’ life that are repeated in other Gospels, especially Mark. As we go along this 90 Day Challenge you will find some redundancy that can be confusing.
An example is the paralytic man who was healed by Jesus and had his sins forgiven. But I thought his friends lowered him through a hole in the roof… That’s Mark chapter 2. Then this woman with the issue of blood, I thought they were in a crowd of people and Jesus says he felt some of his power leave him… That’s in Mark 5. The details of the stories can get mixed up, but the fact remains that our Savior has compassion on those with whom he comes into contact in Scripture.
A couple things I wanted to lift up. Jesus’ statement in vs.12 about a physician coming only to those who are sick, which in essence provided the backdrop to a justification for sinners and tax collectors hanging out with Jesus, is a verse that has impacted me for my entire life. In college I joined a fraternity.  A non-drinking brother is a bit of an oddity, but it provided a plethora of opportunities to witness and impact lives that even to this day remain.

Putting aside all comparisons, this verse cannot devolve into an excuse for us to be a participant and a primary actor in the type of living that would be frowned upon by our Savior. We are absolutely commanded not to run away from the world, but to be in it. While we are in the world we are required to be different, even while being present with those who do not know Christ and are in need of him. Jesus was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton. He and his disciples didn’t fast as regularly as some of the other disciples following other rabbis did. There was a lot a about which people could point their fingers at Jesus and say that he was not walking the walk. I like that about him.
Lastly, vs. 37 is an iconic statement that we have all heard at one time or another.  The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.  So what happens in a field where there is a full harvest and the laborers are few?  I’m assuming some of the crop spoils because no one is there to tend to it.  Isn’t that what happens to people who are in their life primed to have a relationship with Jesus, come to church, but no one in the church reaches out to the new person because we are so intent in keeping our own circles and only reaching out to those that we know.  That’s a problem.  People visit First Presbyterian on a regular basis and they need to know that they are not only welcome, but loved.  I have a vision of a church where if a new person steps into the sanctuary you have 10 people lined up to invite them over to their house for lunch.  It is what Jesus would have done, and it is a sign that we are not spectators but laborers.

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