I went to the doctor on Friday. I’ve been coughing for weeks, but I was sure I would be okay. With time and rest and I’d get well all on my own. Lately, it had turned into this deep chesty cough, but still I’d be fine. My body is strong enough to make it without help. But when I dropped the girls at school, I felt a wave of exhaustion come over me. And then I knew it. I really was sick and I needed help. So before I drove home from town, I called my GP. That afternoon I was on antibiotics for a chest infection. I feel better already.
When we’re sick, we like to see doctors. They can usually see through the symptoms and diagnose the problem. These days, we have a remarkable range of treatments that actually heal. But we don’t go to the doctor just to say hello. We don’t drop in for tea. We go when we’re sick. And doctors don’t drop in to us to verify that we’re healthy. They wait until we need them and then they offer the cure.
I was sick. I needed the doctor. I went to see him. I’m already changed.
Obviously, I needed a doctor on Friday. But here is the truth. I was sick before, I just wouldn’t admit it. So I didn’t go. I didn’t want a doctor. I didn’t think I needed the doctor. He was no use to me when I thought I could manage things without him.
There’s the whole conflict in this passage. Levi, a despised, crooked, traitor knew that his old life was a mess. When the new Rabbi came along offering a new life, he took it. He knew he was sick, so he went with the Doctor.
Levi’s friends were happy to be with Jesus. Their lives were just like his. They were full of deceit and indulgence, messy lives that needed a cleanup. Sinners who needed repentance. Sick people who needed a Doctor. They were glad when the Doctor came to the party.
The disciples were confident that this was the Doctor their nation needed. They had already to responded to John’s call to repentance. They may have been uncomfortable when Jesus called Levi or when they went to party with sinners, but they knew that Israel was sick and in need of a change. So they followed the Doctor as he cared for the sick.
The only ones who were completely unsettled by this Doctor were the ones who were happy enough without him. The ones who believed they were healthy. The ones who could manage on their own. They didn’t admit their need for a doctor, so his presence among them was not a comfort. It was a confrontation and a threat.
Maybe that’s why we have a hard time communicating Jesus’ Good News today, too.
If you are content with the old ways, this new message will not appeal to you. You’re comfortable where you are, so you don’t want it. You will not come to the Doctor. You don’t think you need him. You will not think the Good News is Good News. My friend, you are in a dangerous mindset. If that’s your thinking, then Jesus didn’t come for you.
But there’s good news. You are a sinner. Maybe you don’t admit that yet. We pray you realise it soon.
But maybe you know that already. Maybe you’re already tired of the old ways. Maybe you already know that you are sick and need a Doctor. Maybe you are recoiling from holy God because you feel unworthy of his love. Here’s good news. Jesus loves sinners. They are exactly who Jesus came to help.
The Doctor will see you now.
You can hear this message preached here.