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June 9, 2024

Jesus Sinners Doth Receive

Passage: Matthew 9:9-13

Walking through the halls of St. Luke’s, I look at the patient ticker on the waiting room wall and ponder the work of the surgeon in sobering admiration. I recognize that this business exists due to sin’s ill effects on our bodies. While in hospitals I often sigh, say a quick prayer, and say, “hospitals are for the sick, injured, and ailing.” Yet, does this demean the status of hospitals? No, in fact, if run well, they are a tremendous blessing! Thank God that He has provided such a resource for our physical ailments.

Now, you may wonder, “what’s the church for?” As a local congregation is set apart by the grace of the Holy Spirit to serve Jesus Christ, they simply continue to function as servants of the greatest attending surgeon ever: Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus came to our world to be a Physician for the sick, to be a savior to a sinner. Therefore, church is like a hospital meant to give healing to the sick, to those who with chronic pain, extreme pain, and neglected pain brought on by sin.

With this mission of the Kingdom of God in mind, the mission to reach sinners to heal them, let us ponder the saving work of our Physician as we ponder the theme: “Jesus Sinners doth receive.”

(We Pray…)


The first aspect we come to when someone is dangerously hurt or sick may be denial, and we see this demonstrated with the Pharisees, who are surveying the scene. Their eyes were sharpened by hate, and they watched Jesus constantly.They probably watched the gathering of the guests at Matthew’s house, and, as they left, the put forward their evil question to the disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But before the disciples attempt to rebut, Jesus offers a crushing reply and gives to his disciples a strengthening of faith. Jesus demonstrates to us through this rebuttal that He takes care of His own, showing us that we are not to listen to evil conclusions and arguments against our Savior, but keep our hearts and ears open for His own words, which are light, life, and blessed truth.

And so, what does Jesus say to the Pharisees? “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." The Pharisees were dealing with one of the worst diseases: self-righteousness, comfort in their sinful ways, and the spurning of God’s ways for their own, showing outward sacrifices rather than mercy to others. They didn’t show mercy, in fact they scorned the tax collectors and sinners, not even trying to help them. A similar disposition sometimes crops up among us today. We too need to learn what this means: “I desire mercy not sacrifice.”

The Pharisees disease was so bad for they thought they were whole. And so Jesus says that the sick need the doctor, not the righteous. Essentially saying somewhat sarcastically, “but you guys are so good! You don’t need me, do you?”  This no doubt prompts the question: “Do we need him? Can He help us too?”


This aspect of our spiritual disease is crucial: the disease of denial. This disease needs to be exposed. All here reading today, don’t become conceited. We are sick and in need of healing every day. We are not whole. We are not perfect. We need Jesus, too. Our gathering is not meant to enable us in self-righteousness, but to give you healing for your sinfulness. You need help! You have sinned! There is none righteous, no not one! You need help, and so does everyone else around you! We all need to go to the hospital to let Christ heal us. Repent and hear the words of Gospel healing.


And in so doing, remember what hospitals do? They receive the sick, and so Jesus receives sinners; and turning to that blessed comfort, we turn to see what Jesus does to help those with the chronic pain of sin. If you ever had the experience of toiling with a chronic ailment for weeks, months, years, or even decades and then found out that there is a cure, you know how relieving that is! Sometimes it takes much skepticism and critique of hospitals and healthcare providers, but when it comes, oh how relieving it is!

Now how about it the realm of our great Physician? To demonstrate the patient with chronic pain, we come to Matthew, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles. Matthew in his own gospel refers to himself here a simple man whose original name is Levi. He took no pleasure in his old name and life, associating it with the chronic disease of his calling and old mundane life. He lived in the role of tax collector, a position hated throughout the Roman empire, especially in the province of Judea. The hate was to some extent understandable, because tax collectors were often seen as thieves who stole more than needed: extortioners of the people. Matthew lived in this chronic sinful life. I’m sure he didn’t like the blowback he received from people. I’m sure he loved the money that he got from it. An endless cycle of chronic sin and ailment vexing his life it was to him. Do we have our own examples of that? Is it saying the Lord’s name in vain? Is it how we treat God’s word with our church attendance or devotional life? Is it a poor understanding of God’s authorities? Is it a routine addiction of anger, lust, greed, gossip? O wretched people that we are? How can we escape this body of death?

Perhaps Matthew felt the burden of this position. His own people hated him. According to the religious leaders, even God seemed to hate him, and all this hate piled on him as he kept the books for Rome and stole from the people. This chronic pain and sin ate away at him I’m sure, so could there be a cure? Yes, and it comes in a simple striking command, a command that would change Levi’s name to Matthew and Matthew’s work from writing financial ledgers into writing the proofs of the Messiah. Speaking of which, it was that very Messiah who then said, “Follow Me.” Perhaps Matthew had heard about Him, hearing the stories going about the town as they passed by his booth, as if like hearing a continuous referral for the greatest doctor. Could there really be a doctor for Matthew’s chronic ailments? Yes, and He says, “Follow Me.” He would show Matthew that he is cared for and that His chronic sin is washed away by Him. Jesus called Matthew to see and hear that He is the Christ, the one who can call all sinners to faith in Him, faith in the one who can forgive you of all chronic sin and by His Holy Spirit call you to a life that breaks the cycle of chronic pain. So, whatever your chronic pain can be, whatever sin you’ve been struggling with in cyclical fashion, never seeming to get over the pain, whether it be impatience, worry, temperament, lack of self-control, lack of sympathy, know that the Doctor has healed it. Jesus took that cyclical pain into His hands. He says “follow Me!” And so, we follow Him to His cross and empty grave showing us that He has won. We through faith conquer, and we follow on till our rest is won. Your chronic pain will come to end fully one day, and until then, Jesus gives you peace from your chronic, painful past of routine sin and guilt.

And now that Jesus has received us sinners and keeps giving us healing for our sinfulness, how else can we further the healing touch of our great Physician? We take a page from Matthew’s book as we see Matthew and his new Master and friends meet the old friends of his past life as a tax collector. There is no thought of regret on the part of Matthew that he must now leave his former companions; on the contrary, there is joy a the new-found liberty and an earnest desire that many of his old friends might likewise obtain it. Matthew by this feast recommends the physician who has healed him to his many sick friends. And so, Jesus goes to see them. What a great idea! Let us pray that we may receive the courage to do the same, showing them Jesus in His Word. And so, when this opportunity comes, we offer what Jesus offered us: His healing love. The depth of human sin is great. Sin may vary in magnitude only according to our eyes and worldly consequence. Some sins have deep consequence, impacting relationships, location, outlook, modes of operation, etc., but when it comes to eternal consequence, all sin ends up with eternal punishment…and that is where Christ comes into play, and He has the greatest medicines. He has first the grace of God, that is undeserved love for fouls sinners. God sent His Son, the doctor, into the world to save us and all sinners. This message shows the sick whose hands they are in to save them. He also has the means of grace—The Word of God that declares to sinners that their sin and its greatest ills have been forgiven; Baptism which works like a infantile vaccination, working from birth to death by daily washing out the old Adam in repentance and giving us the new man through grace; and the Lord’s Supper which is offered to Christians as one of the greatest of medicines, for it imparts salvation and seals forgiveness to you in Christ’s body and blood. Jesus also has the remedy of sending His Holy Spirit, who uses all the means of grace to strengthen faith and comfort you, heal you of your sinful ailments through hope, joy and peace; and gives you growth in sanctified living. And finally, you have Jesus’ atoning merit and cleansing blood. Imagine if someone were able and willing to take the consequences of someone else for their decades worth of smoking while also granting the serial smoker a perfect health record and the reward for that. That’s what Jesus did for you, no matter how many times you’ve sinned or how bad you sinned. Jesus comes to you to do that. He is not aloof from the sick, what good doctor would be? He is the Lord that healeth thee.


And so, we have heard that Jesus came into this world to heal the sick. He came to save us sinners from ourselves. He came to establish His practice of grace, forgiving us every trespass, giving us hope and peace through every trouble, and giving us faith which grows with the imparting of His grace. He came to shatter any pharisaic illusions we might have about ourselves being okay on our own, He came to heal the deepest of your sinful wounds by being one of us yet without sin so that through His innocent life and saving death, and He came to this world to receive sinners—to say to you “Follow Me,” calling you then to a glorious calling—the calling of believer. Through this faith in Him He grants you the greatest healing imaginable. This is His practice, and He has granted it to you. Yes, Christ’s Kingdom has come for us sinners. He has received us and forgiven us.