Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Who needs healing? Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26

Jesus had a mission. Matthew makes that abundantly clear; Jesus taught, healed, died, and rose because he was on a mission. Matthew's Gospel concludes as Jesus sent his followers out to all nations with a mission based in his own.

Jesus mission of healing meant calling all people back to God including "those people" who the religious would call "sinners." Jesus' mission lead him beyond preaching to the spiritually healthy. He came to heal broken spirits and broken bodies. Jesus ate with the tax collectors, traitors who would shake down their own people to help out the Romans. Jesus ate with publicly known sinners who couldn't hide their shameful actions any longer. When they asked why he replied,

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13.
Jesus mission was to heal. He healed a broken girls body and he healed sick mens' souls. He healed in unexpected places focusing on the health of each person as a whole being. He even healed when a woman suffering from a hemorrhage reached out to touch him. Jesus mission led him to meet the contagious, the long suffering, and outraged those who believed they we healthy enough to judge others.

Mission is a commonly used phrase in churches today. We have missionaries, we are called to mission work, we have home missions and international missions. A friend said that, "Everything is about mission in the church these days." The challenge is to keep our mission, our work, in line with Christ's mission. We cannot force Christ to do what we would like rather we must shape our lives around his ministry and mission.

The Pharisees didn't like Jesus expanding fellowship. But he had a mission independent of their opinions and authorization. We can't stop Jesus mission; but if we jump on board with him we can and will see healing happen.


Nancy said...

Hi from Belize,
I've read other discussions about this passage and want to tell you that yours is inspired. This passage IS a mission statement. I had not thought of it that way before. The thing that grabs me is...the church for the most part is off the mission. We are naval gazing and creating programs and events for our fellowship and spiritual growth, and activities for our children. We are missing the mission except for occassional mission trips and mission speakers.

I might title this sermon: Who is at your dinner table?

When you read the parallel text in Mark and Luke it is clear that the sinners eating with Jesus were not just Matthew's friends but the gang that followed Jesus around. They always ate with him. They hung with him. "Many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him."
Mark 2:15

"The church" has pharisitical issues...wanting to maintain purity and comfort. I remember a few years ago at a different church, a woman, who was a habitual liar and maybe a bit of a thief joined the women's group and everyone wanted to kick her out. We didn't and I wish I could say that her heart changed, but she eventually left.

Jesus was a sinner magnet. He had something that everyone wanted. He didnt tolerate spiritual snobbery or parents compaining that they dont want their children exposed to "those" people. He knew his mission.

There are several deaf boys who are "fathers of many", do drugs, swear a lot, are overly aggressive, and are just pain in the neck...so stubborn and hard to get along with, so untrustworthy. When they show up because we have food, people tend to move a seat away from them. Some women are justifiably afraid of them. Jesus was different. Jesus wants us to be different.

I think I will dress in rags and gang symbols for preaching this Sunday.

Blessings to you. Your blog got my thoughts spinning in the direction that God was nudging me to take with this. Thanks.

The Unlikely Conversationalist: said...

thanks for your kind words. I am struck by how easy it is to forget the mission that goes beyond the doors of our church and the current congregation. Jesus wants us to keep reaching out. And that's what really keeps us going: that's mission and that alone is enough.

Ivy said...

Great post, Pr. Unlikely. How is everything going at your church these days without a pastoral associate? You're in my prayers. Peace.