There is an obscure story about Jesus who is having a discussion with religious leaders. Dictionary.com defines “obscure” as “indistinct to the sight or any other sense; not readily seen, heard, etc.” That reminds me of His explanation for why He used stories to make a point: Luke 8:10, NIV — He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “ ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’ and the result is in Matthew 12:37b, NIV — The large crowd listened to him with delight,” but Mark 11:18, NIV adds — “The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.” What were those religious leaders afraid of? Losing their power, prestige, and wealth? Sound familiar?
Please keep those passages in mind, because I want you to look at this story which used to puzzle me: Found in Luke 5:27–31, NIV — But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Was He saying that the religious leaders were righteous? I don’t think so. Seems to me that this was a rebuke dripping with sarcasm.
Today’s civilization is rampant with the self righteous. There are also many people disgusted with Jesus, but not because of what He said and did. Rather, it is because of how they have been judging those who call themselves Christians. That happens no matter from whatever denominational subgroup they have been encountered. That’s too bad.
Like the religious leaders of His time there are the same types today — more concerned with politics and the maintaining of their wealth, power, and prestige. It is the same sad situation. Yet, I wouldn’t advise relying on your opinions of your fellow human beings to judge Jesus or the Bible. You most likely are just trying to find shelter, hiding from the responsibility of your own thoughts and behaviors.
We all need to look at Jesus, not everyone else, because what do people say about everyone else and every position another person takes? For example, Liberals, or Conservatives, or Environmentalists, or whatever group, are any of them living up to their own standards and precepts? No. People have a not so generous tendency to judge a cause by the individuals promoting that cause. That’s also too bad. We could learn a lot from one another… except that we opt for getting in each other’s face!
Jesus is still calling sinners to repentance. There are, after all, still people who are kind, self-sacrificing and aware of both the good and the bad in the world. The “common people” should still “hear Him gladly.” Are all nice people going to heaven? Well, wait a minute, has anybody gotten a written guarantee? Or what authority are we relying upon?
Consider this: Acts 4:12, NIV — “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Translation: There is only one guarantee available. Maybe you are good enough to inherit eternal life, but on the other hand, maybe not. Here is the deal, the “Company’s” offer put on the table and promised long ago: Isaiah 1:18, NIV — “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
As a former Union negotiator, this sounds like a pretty good deal, a great contract provision which all the bargaining unit members would eagerly vote to ratify! No doubt. How about you? I highly recommend the ratification of this deal. Vote. You have to vote. No abstentions allowed. No cost to you. This provision is free. Say “yes” to Jesus of Nazareth and begin working under this provision in this new contract. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV) or as the Message paraphrase puts it: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”