The Righteous and Sinners

Today's Bible reading: Matthew 9:9-13

Who is “righteous?”  Who is a “sinner?”  These two questions were at the heart of why Jesus caused such great offense to so many people – especially a group called the Pharisees.  The Pharisees were a very intense and zealous bunch.  They believed that only those who knew and kept all the additional laws belonging to oral tradition could be called righteous.  Not only obviously wicked people, like tax collectors and prostitutes, were “sinners” in their eyes … but also the common people not trained in the law - whom they referred to derisively as: “the people of the land” - belonged to that class.

The law was of the utmost importance to both the Scribes and the Pharisees … and by combing back through the Old Testament, they were eventually able to find 613 Commandments that they believed needed to be followed.  Of course, 365 - the majority - were prohibitions.  Thus, they saw the law more in terms of what people must not do, rather than as giving positive rules for conduct.  Above all, and this is the key: the righteous were to have nothing to do with sinners.

Prayer: Loving heavenly Father, our Good Shepherd, make us faithful, and bless our every effort to enlarge your flock.  We thank you for having made us your followers.  Help us to carry out Your mission as Your representatives, to be the ministers and missionaries You have called us to be; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.