ODJ: cross ‘n’ dagger

July 18, 2013 

READ: Matthew 9:9-13 

I have come to call . . . those who know theyare sinners (v.13).

Heavy metal music, motorcycles and muscle cars. All of these things were present at the annual Cross ’n’ Dagger church service held at the Life Bridge Church. The congregation created this special service for people who might not attend a ‘regular’ Sunday morning meeting. Senior Pastor Bill Campbell said, “[People] can come in their leathers, if they’re bikers . . . . However they’re dressed, they’re welcomed.”

While there were no super-charged cars or bikes at Matthew’s house the night he threw a party for Jesus, there were “disreputable sinners” (Matthew 9:10). It was a motley crew that included some despised tax collectors—people known for their sin.

When the Pharisees noticed this lot of lawbreakers, they questioned the disciples: “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” (v.11). But Jesus didn’t see them that way. He said, “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (v.13). (Can’t you just see the Pharisees’ eyes widen and then narrow?)

Jesus further defended the partygoers by suggesting that the Pharisees spend some quality time thinking about this verse: “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices” (v.13). He wasn’t impressed with the Pharisees’ outer display of goodness, and He wanted compassion to cancel out their criticism.

Today Jesus wants us to have soft hearts towards people who don’t know Him. He’s pleased when we realise that sin isn’t just an issue for the unchurched. All of us need His help (Romans 3:23). Poet Jeff Bethke sums it up like this: “If grace is water, then the church should be an ocean. [The church] is not a museum for good people, it’s a hospital for the broken.”—Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Read Philemon 1:17 to see Paul’s instructions to a church regarding showing grace to a repentant sinner. Read Romans 5:8 to see how God feels about sinners. 
Why do we tend to see ourselves as ‘better’ than people who are known for their sin? How might this view prevent us from sharing the message of Jesus’ love?