Reflections: April 15, 2021
Thursday of the Second Week of Easter
By Alfonso Espinosa
"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:31-32)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The evangelist Matthew was once very sick in his spirit, and he urgently needed a physician. Such was his condition when Jesus called him to follow, and everyone knew it. It is well-known that the two types of people considered to be the lowest of the low, during this place and time when Jesus walked the earth, were prostitutes and tax collectors. Matthew was a tax collector, and the people viewed tax collectors as robbers who took more than was owed, completely taking advantage of people for personal gain. Matthew was not ignorant. He knew what he had been doing. He knew that he was a sinner. He knew that his spirit was sick. What a remarkable text here from Luke 5:27-32 when Jesus called Matthew. Unlike Jesus' conversation in John 4 with the woman from Samaria, for example, there was no discussion about his past sin. Jesus did not moralize or lecture; the LORD did not accuse nor psychoanalyze. He saw Matthew, the sin-sick man, and just called him: "Follow me." That's it. Done deal. Jesus just called him to follow, and the rest was history. Luke 5:28: "And leaving everything, he rose and followed him."
We know that if a person is complacent, ok and satisfied in their sinning, we must rouse them and ask the Holy Spirit to convict them through the Law, but on other occasions people already know that there is something wrong with them. They are already full of shame before we utter a syllable to them. When we meet folks like this, we don't need to beat them down with Law, we just need to love them with Gospel and tell them that Jesus is loving them, too.
This is true for us as well. Sometimes we feel stuck in our shame, taking our sin to mean that we are just defective, rejected people. But Jesus won't stand for this. He calls us when our lives are all messy and full of shame, and in the greatest love and mercy the world has ever known. He calls to us, "Follow me." We don't have to jump through hoops, but get to leave our lives of serving sin, and then by God's grace, put one foot in front of the other as we follow Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
O LORD, absolve Your people from their offenses that from the bonds of our sins, which by reason of our frailty we have brought upon ourselves, we may be delivered by Your bountiful goodness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our LORD, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa is the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine, CA. He is also the author of two books: Faith That Sees Through the Culture and Faith That Engages the Culture.
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