The scribes expected that Jesus would at least put the needs of the “chosen” ones first, even if they saw Him as an insolent radical; but there He was, eating with those deviants. He was being watched every moment, sort of like church leaders now. They were waiting for Him to mess up. He knew that. So, they scrutinized Him. They put their judgments on His comings and goings, although they were not interested in His purpose. They were concerned with how it compared to their “elementary school teacher worldview”.
I have done lay ministry for many years. I call it “flying under the radar”. As I see it, it allows me to move as the Spirit leads me, without the red tape. I have a wonderful “boss”, who I am accountable to, and I tell him that I love all of the work with none of the responsibility. Let’s face it; it relieves me from a lot of Pharisaical scrutiny. I have had my share, even as a volunteer. The weight of the gossip and judgment can be crushing.
When the scribes of the Pharisees saw Christ and the disciples eating with the tax collectors and sinners, Christ’s reply was, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners (Mark 2:17, NRSV).”
I find myself in this verse. I grew up in a fairly “controlled” church setting. I was a little stink pot; a judgmental, arrogant, self-righteous little girl. I was a teenage girl who knew all the answers…sound familiar. Sadly, I was largely following example. I saw religion as having all of the answers and using them like weapons. There was lots of talk about Jesus, but very little on love. What is the cross without love? In my adult life, I have found that God places more value on order, than rules. It matters what children see. It matters if they see the love of Christ alive.
So, Christ did not come for those who had it all figured out. He did not come for those who had bought the, “Christ-in-a-box” home kit or those who could not get passed their ‘elementary school teacher worldview’ of God. Christ was not interested in those who desired to tell Him who He was. He was interested in those who had room in their lives to believe in the living, loving God. What do they look like? They are sick, they are tired, they are hassled, they need someone to take away their burdens, they are corrupt…these are the people that have room for Christ. The perfect and self-righteous can remain that way, if they choose. They simply might not have the room.
Jesus says it like this in Mark 2:21, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
I picture a really self-righteous person standing there, shaking their heads in judgment as Christ does His work. And then, I picture their heads simply exploding, like an old cracked wine skin. It is not supple enough to stretch and be filled with new wine, with new love, with new hope. There is no place for this Christ; the one who is not interested in who we think He should be.
Think outside of this scripture; are we casting judgment on the work of Christ in the church, or in other’s lives? Are we standing and shaking our heads as we watch others go to and fro in the name of Christ? Do you feel like your head is about to explode?
Actually, that is kind of what it felt like when I finally got it; when I finally started to understand what the love of Christ was about. It was kind of mind-blowing, but in a good way. When we come to Him as a sinner, one of the sick, He gives us a new wineskin. This one can be stretched beyond anything that we can understand. Being a part of the LIVING God is a real adventure. Let’s shed the idea of Christ and let Him give us the real thing.
Lord, come to us in your fullness. Show us who you are today. Destroy the places that we stifle You and manage You. Move freely in our lives and show us your living love.