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Hookers, crooks and the Great Physician

Rad JesusSeeking to co-opt Jesus’ moral influence to advance an agenda, a popular meme making the social media circuit asserts:

“Jesus hung around with lepers, hookers and crooks.”

No one hung around with lepers in the ancient world, they were isolated.

“the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with the sinners and publicans, said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? And when Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:16 ASV)

His critics said he was hanging around with sinners, Jesus said he was there as a physician. Not to party, but as a physician.

To “hang out” with someone implies getting together for fun. Under Jesus’ influence, tax collectors and prostitutes became former tax-collectors and former prostitutes.

He went to the sinners because “I came to call not the righteous to repentance but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

• Told the adulteress to “go and sin no more” (sexual sin)
• Led dishonest men to repent and deal honestly.

“…when Jesus came … and said unto him, Zacchaeus,… to-day I must abide at thy house. …And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, He is gone in to lodge with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have wrongfully exacted aught of any man, I restore fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, To-day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:2-10).

Zacchaeus repented of wrong-doing, stating he would make things right with those he had cheated.

Jesus didn’t “hang out” with impenitent sinners, nor tolerate their sin. He came to change them.

The adulteress in the biblical context says:

“And the scribes and the Pharisees bring a woman taken in adultery…they say unto him, Teacher, this woman hath been taken in adultery, in the very act. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such: what then sayest thou of her? And this they said, trying him, that they might have whereof to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground…. He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. …when they heard it, went out one by one, … Jesus lifted up himself, and said unto her, Woman, where are they? did no man condemn thee? And she said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn thee: go thy way; from henceforth sin no more” (John 8:3-11).

Everyone loves the “cast the first stone” part, but most ignore the conclusion… “go thy way; from henceforth sin no more.”

When it came to hookers and crooks Jesus wasn’t hanging around with them; he went among sinners to bring them out of sin, like a doctor goes among the sick to heal them.

Our moral response to “hookers and crooks” is seen in Christ, to assist others in overcoming their sins against God and man.

In a sense, we are all sin-aholics, struggling against our sin-addiction. Like Christ, we seek to help folk overcome the sin-disease they are dealing with, somewhat like A.A., one addict helping another to overcome. A.A. meetings are not about “hanging out,” they are about overcoming.

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Scott Wiley

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