Would Jesus come to the church today?
Luke 5:29-6:11 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them.30 The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
33 And they said to Him, “The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers, the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same, but Yours eat and drink.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? 35 But the days will come; and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” 36 And He was also telling them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’”
6 Now it happened that He was passing through some grainfields on a Sabbath; and His disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating the grain. 2 But some of the Pharisees said, “Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 3 And Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him, 4 how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the consecrated bread which is not lawful for any to eat except the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?”5 And He was saying to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
6 On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there [e]whose right hand was withered. 7 The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him. 8 But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And he got up and came forward. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?” 10 After looking around at them all, He said to him, “Stretch out your hand!” And he did so; and his hand was restored. 11 But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.
One of the things that occurred to me as I read today’s text is something which I have shared previously. I will though neither apologize for saying it again nor stop sharing the truth as long as the lie is being told. Many people today, both within and outside the church, think and say that if Jesus were here today, He would prefer the company of the world over the company of the church. They refer to the truth that Jesus often associated with outcasts and sinners and often criticized the religious leaders of the church. In today’s text it says: The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Jesus did not associate with outcasts and sinners because He preferred their company. He didn’t spend time with them to condone or embrace their sin. Jesus associated with outcasts and sinners; He sought them and met them where they were, to call them to repentance. Jesus intention, His purpose for being with people is to cause them to change. In today’s text Jesus had just called Levi to follow Him. In John 8:12 Jesus says: “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” Wherever He goes, Jesus brings light to the darkness and causes people to choose between light and darkness. In John 3:16-21 Jesus says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” Whoever believes shall not perish. It does not matter if they come to believe in the church or on the street corner. All that matters is that seeing the Light, they choose to repent and no longer love darkness.
The notion; the lie that Jesus would have nothing to do with the church goes against everything we read in scripture. In today’s text it says: On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him. But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And he got up and came forward. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?” After looking around at them all, He said to him, “Stretch out your hand!” And he did so; and his hand was restored. But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus. Jesus regularly went to the synagogues to teach and preach. It was and is necessary even for those in the church to repent. Repentance means to change the way we think and act. So, even those who follow religious practices need to change their understanding to believe that what God wanted and wants is a relationship not religion. Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath because He wanted to show that restoration is more important than regulation.
It is true that if Jesus were here today He might be more critical of those in the church than those in the world. But it is not because He loves the church less. In Revelation 3:19 the Lord says: Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. If Jesus reproves and disciplines the church it is because He loves the church. In Ephesians 5:25-27 it says: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. The church today may be far from perfect, but it is being prepared as the bride of Christ. Those who criticize, mock and condemn the church should remember that again, while not perfect, the church is the bride of Christ, those He gave Himself for. It is comprised of adopted children of God, those He has chosen and loves. It is God who will reprove those He loves, but as loving Father He will defend His children from others. When those within or outside of the church judge those who are God’s children, Christ’s bride, they bring judgment on themselves. Whether in the church or not, the truth of what Jesus says applies to all. Truth is not subject to believing. Jesus says: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2) Surely all will be judged. Hebrews 9:27 says: It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment. 1 Peter 4:16-18 says: If anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? The church, those who believe in Christ, will be judged in Christ as Savior and Redeemer. Those who refuse to believe will be judged by Him as Righteous judge.
If Jesus were here today, He would be wherever there were people in need of a Savior. He would call them to repent. But one other thing is true, if we want to find Jesus today, He told us where He would be: “Where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20) Jesus may indeed seek to save the lost, but He also promises to be wherever people gather in His name. It sounds like Jesus is coming to the church, even in its imperfection.
Thank You Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit for Your never ending love; that You seek to save the lost wherever they may be found. You love all of Your children. Because of Your love, demonstrated on the cross, we can be judged in Christ, as Savior and redeemer, not by Him as righteous judge. Amen.