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The Parable of the Great Physician Made Simple – Matthew 9:10-13
I have to laugh because when I saw the title of this parable I didn’t even know what it was. So I turned my Bible to where the paper said the parable was found. And that has been my preparation for the sermon. If you ever wonder how much I’ve prepared, it’s been many years of walking with Jesus. Most of these teachings I do on the parables of Jesus are preached without reading or commentary or anything but life experience and time reflecting on the Bible, the parables and the teachings of Jesus, and a lifelong relationship with Jesus. Added to this is when you come to a sermon where you have no preparation that leaves plenty of room for the Holy Spirit to use your mouth. When people see some of my simple teachings and call them deep, rich and profound, all the glory must be given to God, because it is not Matthew who does this. Matthew is a simple man. If you find him very deeply, it is the Holy Spirit just like Jesus.
I find it interesting to share parables about Jesus because he used to share parables because they didn’t really make sense to you. You must go and seek the knowledge of meaning. So here it is. It’s about the great doctor.
“And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with publicans and sinners?” Hearing this, Jesus said to them, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what it means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous to conversion, but sinners.”
Have you ever had a tooth that was badly damaged? Some teeth, admittedly, are no longer there. My tooth decay got so infected that I went to the dentist because my mouth hurt and I couldn’t sleep without painkillers. The dentist said it would be a major root canal that would cost $950 or we would have to pull your tooth. As a poor person who has lived through addiction and poverty, I have always chosen to pull them out. Fortunately, I now receive a state pension and the dental work costs me nothing. So when my teeth get that bad, I just say, “Pull it out.”
Now let me ask you this question, if you have a rotten tooth and the pain is excruciating, do you seek a dentist when you have the means and ability to pay the dentist? If you don’t have a pension like me and it costs $250 to pull a tooth and you had that $250, would you be willing to pay the dentist to pull the tooth and stop the pain? Do you? Do you? What about when you have a headache? Do you give a pain reliever to stop the headache? What to do if you have a migraine? What to do if a rash appears on the skin? Don’t you get skin cream and apply it? When we are sick, we seek a doctor. When we have a solution to our ailment, namely cold and flu pills, basic cough medicine and other things, we don’t go to the doctor because we already have the answers. When our disease reaches a stage where we cannot cope with it, we seek a doctor. Now, people in America sometimes have a hard time if they don’t have medical insurance because doctors can be expensive and so can medicine. But here in Australia, you can basically get everything for free, almost, if you’re desperate enough.
So with all this in mind, Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do.”
The Pharisees were people who had an idea, a very, very good idea, of what the Lord said in the Old Testament law. Then they had a lot of other rules and regulations in some kind of book that were all the rules that had to be followed to fulfill the law. Now the Pharisees wrote these terms and conditions in such a way that it was very difficult for some people to do it. But the Pharisees seemed to be proud of their self-righteousness. They were fasting. They tithed. They sacrificed. This is what Jesus mentions later. Basically, they all thought that they were all nice and pure and holy and just and pure and clean. They weren’t dirty. They were perfect in God’s eyes. So they felt very good.
If Jesus sat with a real sinner, someone who sins shamelessly, Jesus, no less a holy rabbi, sitting with the scum of the earth, they had nothing but resentment. It stank in their nostrils. This really annoyed them, so much so that even in the presence of Jesus they complained about his choice. It is written in the Holy Scriptures:
“Then it came to pass, as Jesus sat at table in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.”
So Jesus enters that house, wherever that house may be, and immediately he has many tax collectors and sinners sitting down with him to eat and enjoy his company.
Let me put it in another way that we can understand in today’s environment. Imagine that Jesus was with us today.. Jesus went and sat down in this particular house, wherever it was. He sat down. Then many politicians, many drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes and pedophiles came and sat with Jesus and began to break bread, have dinner with him and tell jokes.
Isn’t that offensive to you? Is it offensive?
How about I come to your house. You have an outdoor barbecue. I just sat down. Imagine that I am an international public speaker. I am an international gospel speaker. I am engaged with 250 speeches every year. I’m in your city. I have been invited to your house for a barbecue to meet you and spend time with you. And when I get there, all the local pimps, prostitutes, gays, homosexuals, drug addicts and drug lords, as well as known pedophiles, child sex offenders and slave traffickers come to greet me and join me for your barbecue. They all throw a party and sit down and say, “Hey Matthew, we’ve seen you on You Tube. You’re so cool, man. Can we sit here and have lunch?”
What if they crash your party? How would you feel? Perhaps you are not like the Pharisees. Maybe you are a beautiful Christian. You’re dealing with prostitutes and drug dealers and homosexuals and street kids and mentally ill people on a daily basis, and you should deal with people like that in your party.
I live in a community. My church is a community of such people. They are not abusive people to me. I actually have a hard time getting along with Christians sometimes. It is much easier to deal with sinners. Jesus was the same way.
Imagine if Jesus had said to the Pharisees that day, “These people are sick. They have a spiritual toothache. They need someone to do a root canal for them, or they need someone to pull that tooth out. Why do you climb on me Do they need help. You don’t care. They are written off as sinners and tax collectors. They are the scum of the earth to you. You will not lift a finger to help them from their sin or make them more righteous or help them obey the law. You simply reject them . I’m not going to reject them. They need the truth. They have a toothache, can’t you see? messed up. They need some answers. You’re the guys with all the answers. You’re perfectly law-abiding. You’re not sick. But they need a doctor.
So, go and find out what it means. I want mercy, not sacrifice. I don’t want you to fast 2 days a week. I don’t want you to throw your coins in the poor box and ring loudly.”
The poor box used to have a big circle and you could really quietly put your hand in the poor box and drop a coin in the bottom. Or you could toss your coin and it would make a big “Clang! Clang! Clang!”
The Pharisees, the righteous, and the religious are the people of that time. people associated with religion and self-righteousness; They used to get their coins and bang and ring. And everybody turned around and said, “Oh, he just gave the money.”
Jesus said: when you give your grace, do not boast. Don’t make that big clack that was called blowing the trumpet. Do not do that. Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.
That is why the Pharisees used to sacrifice their money. They used to sacrifice their plants. They used to carry all the sacrifices. They used to give away all their lambs. They used to tithe the medicine. They used to donate the first fruits. They used to do everything perfectly. They would fast. They would make all these sacrifices to be righteous. But they are all works. These are all works of the flesh.
But Jesus said, “I want mercy and compassion.”
You see, dear reader. Australians walk past a heroin addict, someone who sticks a needle, and there is no mercy for them. Did you know that 82% of Australians who become addicted to heroin were sexually abused as children? They need help. I’m not sure you understand what it’s like to be harassed by someone 20 years older than you. I understand how it is. It seriously messes with your head.
When you are:
Living in a bisexual relationship; Living dependent on prostitutes; Living addicted to pornography; Living with alcohol dependence; It seriously messes with the head.
It takes a lot of work, a lot of help, a lot of counseling, a lot of understanding to get you back to where I am now. And I still have pain and injuries that need to be fixed and dealt with.
Jesus says have mercy on people like Matthew. Do not condemn them and write them off as sinners. This is the first time I’ve been so open about this collection of similes that I’m doing in a series of videos and articles that will be published in a book. But this analogy is useful for you to know that I have used the services of prostitutes in the past for 20 years. How many times did I sin then? I have slept with men. I’ve done all kinds of bad things. And here I am sharing that I am out of it. I don’t do that anymore.
And yet God is still using me. It is because Jesus had mercy on me. It is because Jesus had mercy on me. He is still the same. He still lies on his love. He still loves all that is hurting and broken in the world. He wants you to. He does not want you to condemn all these sinners.
We look at this parable and think to ourselves how bad the Pharisees were for condemning Jesus, and yet if we’re honest, really honest with ourselves, we just don’t think that people who practice addictions and sexual sins should be allowed to be friends with everyone we clean righteous churchgoers.
We spend time with the Bible, we spend time in church and Bible study, and we spend our money giving to the Lord’s work. We make all these sacrifices and think we are pleasing God. But God calls all these things that live under him righteousness. Jesus wants us to show mercy to the broken and wounded and to sacrifice in the above way. He wants us to be doctors to people in pain and suffering and to heal their emotional and spiritual lives with the power of the Holy Spirit and His wisdom.
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