“On Your Mark”
The Righteousness of God (Chapter 2 Verses 13-17)
These men are really very heartless, they are quite prepared to allow those who are sick, as they have so defined them, to perish without any help. They had given up on them, these ministers of God’s word (Romans 3.1-2)? Therefore their guilt is doubled. Their own disease multiplied. Jesus came to minister to sinners, the unrighteous, the ungodly (Romans 4.5) to justify them, to give them the righteousness of God, that which will enable them to stand before the bar of Almighty God. The just for the unjust (1Peter 2.24; 1Peter 3.18). To clothe us in his perfect righteousness, not by our own works-righteousness, but through faith, receiving God’s clearly demonstrated love, in the death of Christ (Romans 3.21- 31). These Pharisees justified themselves Jesus said (Luke 16.15ff). Just like a bunch of criminals who readily pronounce their own verdict, we didn’t do it. They had taken the judge’s place and declared themselves to be without sin or guilt, utterly self-righteous. So Jesus answer causes them to feel that their claim to righteousness shuts their mouths when it comes to Jesus ministering to unrighteous sinners. He is very clever a silencing people. Hence their claim rings with hollowness. While they had no mercy for others, while they railed at the one who had mercy for them, could they possibly be righteous? In a right standing with God? No, they were worse sinners than the ones they themselves despised. The Lord with mastery cuts the feet from under them.
The call of Jesus (v17), is so strong, and sure, with power and grace included, kindling faith and love for himself. Many are called but few are chosen. The call goes out with the power to accept, nothing is left to chance. That day when Matthew followed Jesus, he left behind a lucrative job, the financial loss would be no small thing. He was a rich man. He was asked to give up a lot in one sense. If he had stayed in his tax office that day who would remember him today? Who would have blessed his name? Nobody! But as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, a foundation pillar of the New Testament Church, and author (humanly speaking) of the first gospel, he is known the world over. But better still, in heaven (Luke 10.20). His words bless, enrich and encourage many, many people, he is in a sense still evangelizing, through his gospel, bringing souls and glory to Christ. Jesus is no one’s debtor. Trust him.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)