While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” – Matthew 9:10-11
At the heart of their criticism was the conclusion that the tax collectors and “sinners” were not good enough. On the other hand, they felt they were more than good enough and should have been Jesus’ preference.
While I might be incensed at the arrogance of the Pharisees, I have to honestly confess I am not that different. I like to compare myself with others who are less than me. I like to feel good about myself while looking at the evil of others. I like to think Jesus would accept me because I am good enough the way I am.
Jesus quickly reveals the futility of this thinking. While I may think I am good enough, good enough never approaches Jesus’ standard.
What Jesus desires and accepts is a humble and repentant heart. This is a heart that makes me long for his forgiveness and the assurance of his peace. It is a heart that directs me to look away from the good I think is enough to the perfection he offers in love. It is only through a heart that has been changed by Jesus where I can find peace. It is never in my good works or my good intentions. Only the sinless life and death of Jesus makes me acceptable to God. Only by his blood am I cleansed of all my sin. Only through faith in his work can I have confidence of life with him now, and in heaven.
The Pharisees never understood or appreciated what Jesus came to bring, because they always maintained they were good enough. In contrast, the tax collectors and sinners rejoiced to know Jesus because they desperately longed for what he offered them.
Now I need to ask myself an important question: Am I still going to try to convince myself that I am good enough before God by the way I am? If so, I am deceiving myself. God teaches me to depend only on Jesus for his peace, his forgiveness, and his acceptance through his undeserved love. Through my Savior God has declared me good enough for him!
Prayer: O blessed Jesus, thank you for being my substitute, securing my forgiveness, and offering me the confidence of life in heaven. Help me rely on what you have done, and turn me away from my insufficient efforts. Amen.