“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.” – Matthew 9:12-13 (MSG)
The words of Jesus always pierce my heart. His simplicity and directness often surprises me and leaves me cheering. In this single statement, I relate to what He is saying. It causes me to come back to some basic truths that are not often at the forefront of my mind.
Jesus is after mercy.
I like the Tyndale Bible Dictionary’s definition of mercy. It is, “A divine quality by which God faithfully keeps his promises and maintains his covenant relationships with his chosen people despite their unworthinessand unfaithfulness.” In this definition of mercy that we see a God who clearly is not afraid to take action.
There are also other Biblical words that correspond with the word mercy. The Bible uses words like, kindness, goodness, grace, favor, pity, compassion, and steadfast love. When I read it that way I see a God who goes after people by means of goodness, kindness, grace, compassion, and steadfast love. In the same way that God goes after us, we are supposed to go after others.
Jesus came to invite in the outsiders.
My first perspective of Christians was during my high school years. I remember my first time at youth group and standing in awe as I watched a bunch of peers interact with each other. Despite how foreign the culture was to me, there was something tantalizing and attractive about it that made me want a piece of whatever they had. I can recall the raw feelings of being an outsider that was looking in. What broke the barrier?
It was a meal. I remember dining at a table with these people that put their faith in Jesus Christ. This pivotal meal was the first of many different physical and spiritual meals that we would share together. I believe that Christ does the same thing for us. He invites the outsiders to come and to dine at His table with Him.
In John 6:35, Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever.” It is true that once you align yourself with Christ, your soul will never go hungry or thirsty again when you dine at Christ’s table.
Just as Jesus went after the outsiders with mercy, we are to do the same. This is a word picture for what the body of Christ is supposed to look like. I pray that would be one step closer for you to feast at the table of everlasting life.