Saturday, March 8, 2014

Day 4: Calling all Sinners

"After this he went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booh; and he said to him, 'Follow me.' And he got up, left everything, and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax-collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, 'Why do you eat and drink with the tax-collectors and sinners?' Jesus answered, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentence.'” 
-Luke 5:27-32

Jesus shared meals and conversation with people who were known for their sin. The Pharisees and scribes, the ‘holy men’ of Jesus’ time, could not understand why he would do such a thing. Jesus’ response to their questions makes a lot of sense. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” A doctor wouldn’t come to treat people who were already healthy; a doctor comes to treat sick people. In the same way, what good would it have done for Jesus to come into the world just to sit around talking theology with the Pharisees, if he never put it into action?

But that’s not what he does. Jesus says clearly in this passage what his purpose on earth is – to call sinners to repentance. He was there to share in fellowship with sinners, but moreover he was there to bring sinners back into right relationship with God. Jesus came into the world not simply to forgive our sins, but to take away our sins, to free us from our sins.

Lent is a time for fasting. It’s a time to remember the temptations Jesus faced in the desert. During Lent, many people give up or take on some type of practice – be it food, electronics, or a certain activity. But if we stop eating chocolate for 40 days just so we can say we went 40 days without eating chocolate, we are missing the point. It isn’t about suffering. It’s about training our wills with physical things so we will be ready for spiritual temptations. It’s about reflecting on our spiritual journeys and preparing our hearts and minds for the coming of our Lord.

Jesus came to call sinners (you and me) to repentance. This Lenten season, I encourage you to reflect on your life. Where are you spiritually sick? Where are you in need of healing from sin? Ask Jesus for forgiveness, but also ask Jesus to free you from that sin. Then, get rid of the distractions and create the space for God to work in you. Changes probably won’t happen overnight, but you aren’t usually cured from an illness overnight either. Give yourself time to heal, and slowly you will find yourself growing stronger.

"Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth your right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

Becky is 25 years old and from the Diocese of San Diego. 
She is currently serving at Holy Spirit Episcopal Bilingual School in Tela, Honduras 
where she enjoys teaching English, leading chapel services, and 
helping high school seniors apply for college.

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