The Church is a Hospital for Sinners:
“As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:9-13).
Early in my Christian life, I attended a church where we were expected to come to church wearing our Sunday Best, with a smile on our face, and complete and constant victory in our lives. I had a pastor once who told the congregation—from the pulpit—that if he ever asked you how you were feeling, you were supposed to answer, “Bless God, I’m on top and rising!” He said he didn’t want us complaining to him about all of our problems. So the church was a place where people put on masks to come and show everyone else how well they were doing. You couldn’t be real and talk about your problems or struggles or sins, or people would look down on you. But thank God that in the midst of this insanity, I read two life-changing books that set me free. One was Charles Spurgeon’s All of Grace, and the other was called The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. A quote in Manning’s book revolutionized my concept of Christianity. Morton Kelsey said, “The church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.” Oh, how that truth set me free! That statement describes so perfectly the truth contained in today’s Scripture.
In Matthew chapter nine, Jesus called a tax collector named Matthew to come and follow him. As a tax collector, working for the Romans who were ruling the Jews, Matthew was hated by his fellow countrymen. After Matthew became a disciple of Jesus, he had a dinner party at his house, and invited Jesus to be a special guest, along with Matthew’s circle of friends, which included other tax collectors, and some notorious sinners. When the religious leaders—the Pharisees—saw it, they asked Jesus’ disciples why their Master would eat with such dirty rotten no good sinners. I love the response that Jesus gave to these self-righteous religious men. He said, “Those who are healthy don’t need a doctor—sick people do! I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Do you struggle with sin? Then praise God, you’re the kind of person Jesus came for. Jesus said, “I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.” Brennan Manning said, “Jesus comes not for the super-spiritual but for the wobbly and the weak-kneed who know they don’t have it all together, and who are not too proud to accept the handout of amazin’ grace.” No wonder the message of the Bible is called Good News!
My prayer is that today’s devotional will have encouraged your heart with the truth that the church is a hospital for sinners. It is a place where we all come together to find the grace and strength and healing that comes only from the Saviour, our precious Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Do you struggle with sin? So do I. So did the Rock—the Apostle Peter. So did the sweet Psalmist of Israel, King David. So has every man or woman who has ever followed the Lord Jesus Christ. When you sin, don’t run away from God—run to Him, and confess that sin, and find the free forgiveness and cleansing that He offers to all of His children! Never doubt or question the love that God has for you! “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). Nothing in will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Pastor Chris Jordan