Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?” Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” A little later John’s followers approached, asking, “Why is it that we and the Pharisees rigorously discipline body and spirit by fasting, but your followers don’t?” Jesus told them, “When you’re celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but not now. No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. This is Kingdom Come!” He went on, “No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. And you don’t put your wine in cracked bottles.” (Matt 9:10-17, MSG)
Lent is a good time to refocus on what it means to be a Christian. Even though John the Baptist was something of a trailblazer, preparing the way for the Lord, his disciples seem to have fallen into the well-trodden ways of the Pharisees. Isaiah 58 the people were asking the same question, “Why have we fasted,’ they say,` and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ (Isa 58:3 NKJ) The way of the Pharisee was religious, self-righteous, a works mentality, judgmental and condemning. This kind of sickness was so prevalent in the religious system that those it affected did see their own need for healing.
The tax collectors, prostitutes, and the nobodies had nothing to lose and quickly recognized Jesus as a life changer. They flocked to where he was because he met them where they were. Didn’t stand there laying down the law, he sat down and broke bread.
I want to be a Jesus kind of Christian, how about you? Paul tells us to, “Take off the old human nature with its practices and put on the new nature, which is renewed in knowledge by conforming to the image of the one who created it. In this image, there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all things and in all people. (Col 3:9-11 CEB)