Good morning and welcome to Monday’s podcast. My name is Alan and it is a huge privilege to join you this week as you travel through Matthew’s gospel. Last week Bryony walked us through the sermon on the mount – Jesus’ kingdom manifesto – and some subsequent healings and miracles demonstrating that the Kingdom is open to everyone, no-one is excluded. This week we will continue through Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus and allow him to speak to our hearts and our ordinary everyday lives.
Today’s passage is Matthew 9:1-17, I will read it in its entirety at the end of the podcast but for now I am going to focus on verses 12 and 13.
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
My wife, Helen and I do illness differently. I am a great believer that if you leave it, it will get better. Helen takes the opposite approach – “it looks nasty we better go and see the doctor.” Last summer we were in North Yorkshire visiting a national trust property. We had explored some ruins and walked through the vast gardens alongside a river and large lake. We had retrieved our picnic from the car and had a nice lunch. Feeling relaxed and content my boys got out a football and started kicking it around. I joined in and we were having a great time. One of my lads is a talented goal keeper, the other an accomplished left-footed winger. We were taking shots when – and I promise that I didn’t kick it hard – the goal keeper saved the ball awkwardly with his thumb.
Something went pop. He couldn’t straighten it.
I took a look… ‘it’ll be fine,’ ‘Just rest it.’
His mum took a look and decided that we needed to get it checked out at A&E when we got back to Sheffield… which is where we were headed next.
I drove back to Sheffield silently questioning the wisdom of taking my boy to the children’s hospital… he would after all be absolutely fine in a day or two.
An x-ray later and it was revealed that he had fractured his thumb complicated by significant damage to the ligament. He would be in a splint for 6 weeks and then have to be careful after that.
I don’t know which of those approaches to medical emergencies that you identify with: ‘It’ll be fine, we don’t need help,’ Or ‘we better get it checked out by a doctor’?
Jesus said ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.’ And it’s easy to skip over these words and think ‘Jesus is having a little dig at the self-righteous Pharisees again – which he is – so this doesn’t apply to me.’
Here’s the question for us to reflect on today: Do you need a doctor? No, not a physical doctor… Jesus! Do I need Jesus today? Do we need a saviour?
We live in a world, a society that doesn’t do weakness! I have to be strong, I have to be in control, I have to look as if I have it all together, I have to muddle through. I can do it.
That’s all well and good… but if that’s us then we simply don’t need Jesus!
I’ll say that again… let it sink in… digest these words…
If we buy into the way of the world, try to be strong, if we gloss over our weaknesses or make out that we don’t have any, if we believe that we can fix it by working harder, magically finding greater powers of self control… then we don’t need Jesus!
I have been reading and about the phenomenal, worldwide movement that is Alcoholics Anonymous. It is deeply spiritual, at its heart it is deeply Christian. Imagine a bunch of broken people coming together who recognise that they need a saviour, that they cannot fix their lives and their problems on their own, who turn over their lives and their will to God, who are open and honest about their weaknesses, who practice forgiveness, who take responsibility for their actions, who help others and who take their message of freedom and salvation to other broken people…. It sounds like church to me! It sounds to me like a church that might just impact the world…
But this journey only begins when we recognise that we are sick; that we cannot fix ourselves; that we do indeed need a saviour.
And do you know what? In a world that is plagued by anxiety and fear. In a world more addicted and distracted than ever. In this broken and messed up world of ours. We – Jesus people – have got the answer, we know the saviour, we carry the gospel message! The message that is bringing life and healing and freedom all over the world.
So I again, do you need a saviour? Where do you still need rescuing?
Let’s pray, you might want to repeat this prayer in your own heart today.
Father. I’m human, frail, fallible, confused, angry, jealous, worried, anxious, lonely and just plain tired of trying to hold it all together. I need a saviour. I need rescuing, I need you Jesus. Thank you that you come every single day to set me free! Help me to receive and grow in that freedom. And lead me to others who need to know you, who are desperate for a saviour. Amen.
READING: Matthew 9:1-17
Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralysed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’
At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘This fellow is blaspheming!’
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the paralysed man, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home.’ Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’
On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’
Then John’s disciples came and asked him, ‘How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?’
Jesus answered, ‘How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
‘No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out, and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.’