Are You Good Enough for Jesus?

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector's booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So, Matthew got up and followed him. Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don't need a doctor — sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13  NLT).

When Jesus called me to be His disciple, I knew very well that I was a sinner. I had absolutely no confusion about the matter. I was not a good person and I worked very hard to stay that way. But, I had a Grandmother that loved Jesus and loved me, and she prayed fervently that Jesus and I would one day meet. He answered her prayer and Jesus challenged me to follow him on September 3rd, 1971. I wasn’t confused about that either. An unexpected, undeserved and unbelievable demonstration of God’s love drew me to Him, and I’ve never turned my back to this day.

However, during the first five years of my journey in faith, I became a Pharisee of my own. I learned how to offer sacrifices and thought none deserved mercy, especially me. I worked hard to be righteous, only to think I was better than everyone else at being holy, but still not good enough myself. It was exhausting. I was caught up in my appearance and what I thought made me look righteous and spiritual. It was all about the perception of holiness; what I could wear, where I could go and be seen or not seen; what I could listen to or watch, and what I could eat or not eat. My beautiful salvation experience through God’s tender mercy had turned to rules and regulations that I thought would make God more pleased with me. I was wearing myself out trying to earn what I had never deserved. All I had really become was self-righteous and truly ignorant of the love of God only available through His righteous Son, Jesus.

Then one day a thought occurred to me. When Jesus reached out to me, I was the worst sort of person I had even been in my life. Yet, I was good enough for Jesus to put forth the effort to reach out to me, even as the sinner I was. And if I was good enough for Him then, why did I think I had to work so hard to be good enough now? I didn’t. It was time to be free from self-righteous labor and discover His righteous rest. It was time to learn all that He did and quit obsessing about what I could do. He simply asked me to follow Him. That means I don’t have to struggle in the dark trying to figure out what to do. By following Him, I learn to trust, obey, rest and rely on His guidance and Lordship, so I can live the best life available to me; something I’ve managed to do since that thoughtful moment; and I haven’t been confused about it for years.

So back to Matthew, Jesus was not confused about the type of people he was sitting down to have dinner with. Matthew had invited his friends, fellow employees, Jesus and his disciples, to share a meal. What a scene that must have been — tax collectors, sinners, and fishermen. I would love to have been looking through the window at that bunch. Apparently, the Pharisees were looking through the window, and they didn’t like what they saw. They even got close enough to the party to ask Jesus’ disciples about the scum he was eating with. I’m sure they even considered his disciples scum. But, before his disciples got the chance to answer for him, Jesus looked up at the Pharisees and said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor — sick people do.”

First of all, Pharisees simply did not like tax collectors, because they collected money for the Romans and were known to overcharge and skim off the top. And they certainly didn’t like sinners; much like some modern day ‘Pharisees’ that I’ve had to endure. Secondly, Pharisees didn’t know they were sinners. They loved to demonstrate their supposed righteousness by making sacrifices, and in very showy ways. Jesus, knowing they did not consider themselves sinful, basically said, okay, I didn’t come for you because, you think you are well. But I did come for these because they know they are sick. And because Jesus knew they loved to make sacrifices and considered themselves quite skilled in the ‘scriptures’ he told them, “Go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’”

Now if they really did know the ‘word’ as well as they thought they did, then they knew he was quoting from Hosea. However, it was not mercy they were interested in. They weren't even interested in Jesus. They were only interested in themselves and maintaining their own status quo and Jesus was a threat to both. For you see, whether we think of ourselves as righteous or sinful, healthy or sick, Jesus proved time after time that we all need Him, regardless of our condition. And because of His love and acceptance of us just as we are, yes, we are good enough for Jesus. But whether we recognize that or not is entirely up to us.

Dr. Randall Mooney


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