What Kind of Person Are You?

It’s dinnertime in Capernaum. During the day, the streets buzzed with merchants hawking their wares and caravans carrying goods from faraway lands. But the hot sun yielded to the cool air of evening. Children’s voices echo through the streets as they finish playing and head home. Travelers settle into inns for the night. After cleaning and mending their nets, fishermen head to the docks and board their boats to spend the night fishing on the Sea of Galilee.

At Matthew’s house a dinner party is underway. The downside of being a tax collector? Matthew’s neighbors hate him. The upside? Because of his sizeable earnings, he owns a large house with a spacious courtyard, and on this particular evening guests are arriving for a festive banquet. The aroma of honey, fresh-baked bread, and roasted meat fills the air while trays of grapes, cheese, olives, and dates are passed around. A lot of food and drink will be needed because the word is out that the popular young rabbi from Nazareth will attend the party tonight.

Matthew’s business associates—other wealthy tax collectors—show up dressed in fine clothes. One by one several prostitutes arrive as well, their once-alluring faces now shadowed by hardness and hurt.

The dinner companions come from different economic levels, but they share one thing in common: They’re all social outcasts. As the guests walk toward Matthew’s house, they try not to notice their neighbors’ hateful glares, and they ignore the disapproving stares of the Pharisees who stand on Capernaum’s street corners wearing long robes and praying long prayers. For this evening, at least, Matthew’s house is a safe place to gather. Spirited conversation and laughter fill the air as dinner begins and Jesus and his disciples mingle with the crowd.

Not everyone is smiling, though. Scowling Pharisees pull Jesus’ disciples aside and ask a question that sounds like an accusation. They demand to know, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Undaunted, Jesus points out, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. . . . For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:10-13).

Where do you see yourself in this story? Would you have enjoyed mingling with the crowd at Matthew’s dinner party? Would you have made some new friends? Would you have cringed and walked to the other side of the room when certain individuals walked in? Does any part of you sympathize with the Pharisees and wonder, “Is it really wise to hang around with a crowd like this?”

There are three kinds of people in the world.

The stubborn realize their souls are sick, but they decide to go it alone and suffer in silence rather than seek and accept the Lord’s help.

The smug, like the self-righteous Pharisees, deny their spiritual weaknesses. They see no need for healing because they consider themselves healthy—at least in comparison with others. Instead of risking discomfort and swallowing their pride, they stand outside, criticizing the guests at the party.

The searching, like the tax collectors and sinners who gathered at Matthew’s house, are willing to engage in the conversation and welcome the Great Physician’s help.

Which kind of person are you?

David Faust

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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