So I’ve been reading a lot of harsh responses to Colin Kaepernick’s recent demonstration against the National Anthem and the Flag. He believes he must protest these symbols of our freedom in response to the oppression of the black community. I am not qualified to get into that debate, as I am neither black nor am I oppressed (as I choose not live that way). Don’t get me wrong, I could very easily be oppressed and I feel it every day of my life, but I refuse to let it affect my attitude. (This is very hard work, btw).
But, as I sat down to read my scripture for today, I realized that we are all guilty of see things in a distorted way, and very different from how Jesus sees things. In Matthew 9:10-13, Jesus is confronted with a version of oppression Himself.
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.”
Jesus was sitting and eating with the most crooked members of society and the “honorable” citizens, the ones with the righteous authority (kind of how we view the Pope) were judging Jesus’ decision making and actions. First, I have to love how Jesus didn’t care what anyone thought of what He was doing. He was a Man and stood His ground in the face of the opinions of others. There was no intimidating Jesus at all. Second, He called out what was the truth, and that was He came to us to save us from our sins. He plainly said, if you’re well, you don’t go to the doctor, but if you’re sick, you make the appointment and go because you want to get well. It’s that simple.
So, the tax collectors and sinners recognized they were unwell and sought to be healed. Sinfulness is a sickness so to speak, and that’s what they were seeking to treat. The Pharisees, however, saw themselves as being quite well and needing no healing. But they also didn’t want to be around all of those sick people, too. Probably because they knew deep down that they would not remain well if they were to spend any real time with the sinners of their community. It would rub off on them and at the very least, tarnish their impeccable reputations of glittering children of God.
Funny how that works, though. Jesus pointed out their problem and they didn’t even recognize it. Jesus came to call the sinners to repentance. If we were to spend any time with Jesus at all, we would have to admit that we all fall under that category of “sinners”. We all need to repent in one way or another. That’s where the Pharisee’s completely missed the point. They were so blinded by everyone else’s sins, they failed to recognize their own judgmental sinfulness and hence, need for repentance as well.
I think the same analogy can be applied to all of us today. The African American community has certainly experienced controversial oppression. There are those within that community who feel they have been judged prior to any trial. Unfortunately, the reactions of people who support them are very similar to how the Pharisee’s reacted to Jesus. Shun the one’s who have been judged to be committing the crime and only focus on those who support the cause. (This scenario does not only apply to one side of this story. We are all guilty of choosing one side and judging the other, no matter what the subject is)
Jesus wanted us all to stop and look inward. He wanted us to recognize our lack of perfection and be humbled. He wanted us to then look at each other and see ourselves, because we are all the same. We are equally sinful and equally deserving of being judged. Then He wanted us to look to Him because He is the only One offering salvation. He is the Physician, and we are all patients waiting for our appointment with Him. When our hearts are humbled and we see how much He loves us still, then we can look at each other and know we are all equals.