“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 the sick.” Matthew 9:10-12 NIV

There are so many people that feel like the church is no longer relevant. “The church is full of hypocrites!” A hypocrite is a person who wears a mask but underneath is a different person. There are “hypocrites” everywhere. There are people on Facebook that pretend that everything is wonderful and that they are always “Lit” but truthfully they are suffocating in darkness and miserable. There are people who are married but living single. There are people who work in customer service but could care less. I could stay home to avoid all these people but the institutions that they reside in I need. They work in stores, government agencies, they are members of my fraternity, they are in the healthcare agencies I frequent but I can’t stay home and miss out on what is necessary to my well being.

Jesus chose to hang out with people who had chosen the mask of success and challenged by the people who chose the mask of religion. Jesus was unmasked.

Paul Lawrence Dunbar said, We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—

This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile

Jesus goes to the house of a known sinner named Matthew who had recently removed his mask. Jesus told Matthew to follow him from the tax booth. Tax collectors were a despised group. They were social outcasts. Matthew invites Jesus to his house with all his tax collector friends. The religious people call Jesus a hypocrite because he’s fellowshipping with sinners.

Who’s the hypocrite? Is it Jesus because he’s eating with sinners? Is it the religious leaders who hide behind masks while they judge those with obvious sins?

Jesus doesn’t waste time trying to label the Pharisees but instead defines what he’s doing with the “sinners.”

  1. Jesus did not come for those who are already doing well but for the sick. The church is supposed to be a place where those that are sick can come and be made whole. In a hospital you are going to find all kinds of conditions. There is no such thing as a sick person who shouldn’t be in the hospital. When you say I’m not going to church because of the hypocrites you are in essence saying, “I’m not sick so I’m not going to the hospital.” We have to acknowledge our own condition before we can get treatment. We are quick to diagnose someone else’s condition without acknowledging our own.
  2. God requires mercy not sacrifice. Jesus told the religious leaders that were critical of his fellowship with these sinners that God requires love over judgment. Hosea 6:6 I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.
  3. It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick the church is like Matthew’s house. You are going to find a lot of sick people there. You will also find some critical people on the outside talking about who’s on the inside. “I’m not going in there because they ain’t real!” The thing we miss is that Jesus is real. You cannot be in the presence of Jesus and not be impacted in some way. Now I’m sure all of Matthew’s friends didn’t become disciples but they were in the house. Every person in church is not saved and every person outside the church is not a heathen but they both need Jesus!

The church should be a neutral place where both saint and sinner can come experience the grace of Jesus Christ instead of arguing about who deserves to be in the house. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. If I’m sick I don’t let the presence of sick people in the hospital stop me from seeing the doctor. Jesus is the great physician. His church is a hospital where all can come. It’s not perfect but it’s necessary.

Dear God,

Help us to create churches where the sick can be made whole. Help us to love more and to show more grace than judgment. Jesus Christ died for the church. We know that one day he’s coming back for his church. We know that we have to be in it to win it. You can only change something from the inside out. Help me to be the change I want to see. Instead of looking in the house to condemn the hypocrites help me to come in the house to be healed by Doctor Jesus!  Father, bring all of your children in the house so you can transform our hearts and remove the masks. The doors of the church are open!

In Jesus Name,
Amen