Jesus dined with tax collectors and other outcasts while the Pharisees looked on with scorn. They asked some disciples why Jesus did this, and unbeknownst to them, Jesus overheard them. In my mind’s eye, I imagine Jesus not even getting up, and without taking his eyes off of the outcasts around him saying, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9.13).
I can just see the smiles on the former prostitutes’, tax collectors’, and other “sinners’” faces and Jesus smiling back. They knew that they were sick, but they also knew the doctor had come. The disease was curable, and although there would be consequences for their sins, they knew that this man spoke with authority that gave them hope for restoration. These were the ones He was going to use to spread His Gospel—His victory message—these sinners for whom He achieved the victory.
They knew that they were sick, but they also knew the doctor had come. The disease was curable, and although there would be consequences for their sins, they knew that this man spoke with authority that gave them hope for restoration.
We who are the redeemed of God should be the most merciful individuals on the planet. How could we not forgive when we have been forgiven of so much? After Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone, Jesus told a parable to his disciples. In Matthew 18.21-35, Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a king who had forgiven a man of a gigantic debt. The man then goes back and is unmerciful to a neighbor who owed him a very small sum of money. The king is outraged and throws the first man into prison to be tortured. The point was to teach Christ followers to live mercifully because they had been forgiven of a debt so large by the King of the Universe that any forgiveness on their parts looks like chump change in comparison.
Whether it’s with a coworker, spouse, child, friend, or stranger, the Christian needs to embody what the term “Christian” (which was originally intended as an insult) means—“little Christ.” Remember Jesus’ words on the cross as He drank the entire weight of our sin and as the crowd jeered and mocked Him, “Forgive them Father.”