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“Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”
(Luke 5:31-32, New Living Translation)
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
(Psalm 107:9, English Standard Version)
Today’s Reading: Luke 5
Listen to Luke 5 on her.BIBLE.
My fiancé and his parents watched expectantly as I opened my beautifully wrapped Christmas gift. Inside, I discovered a faded, tattered soap resembling Santa Claus. Puzzled, I looked at my fiancé for a clue about how to respond. His crooked smile and crinkled eyes drew me into the family joke — a gift wrapped repeatedly year after year and passed around among family members. It communicated acceptance and welcome, which was the exact opposite of what it seemed to say at first.
Much of what the Gospels tell us about the early years of Jesus’ ministry reveals His upside-down kingdom. From birth to death, Jesus didn’t fit the image of what people thought of as a Messiah. In fact, He often did the exact opposite of what was expected.
In Luke 5, that pattern was evident in the events and Jesus’ conversations with those around Him:
He instructed Peter, James and John to cast their nets on “the other side” at a time when fish didn’t normally bite.
He reached out to touch a leprous man, which was forbidden by the Jewish ceremonial law.
He withdrew from the acclaim of the crowds.
He offered forgiveness of sin to a paralyzed man before healing him of his physical distress and limitations.
He called Levi, a loathed tax collector, to become one of His followers.
He accompanied Levi to a great feast in his home, to which other tax collectors were invited.
Everything Jesus did to introduce His kingdom was unexpected. People responded eagerly when He performed miracles. But the physical healings give a picture of a deeper purpose: more than meeting the physical needs of people, He was concerned for the needs of their souls.
In fact, Jesus broke religious stereotypes by pursuing, befriending and rescuing those who were most soul-sick — those who didn’t fit the religious mold of the day.
When criticized by the religious leaders for hanging out with “sinners,” His reply disclosed the real reason for His coming to earth: to save people who are soul-sick and who acknowledge their need for a savior (Luke 5:31).
The author of Psalm 63 speaks about this soul-sickness as a thirst for God “in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (v. 1). Once he meets God in His sanctuary, the Psalmist affirms that his soul is satisfied (v. 5).
Entering Jesus’ kingdom means letting go of your preconceived ideas of becoming good enough to become part of God’s family and acknowledging your need for a savior. Only then can He heal the soul-sickness that separates you from a relationship with Him.
In His upside-down kingdom, you are welcomed and accepted as part of His family, not because you deserve it but because you recognize your need and ask for His healing.
Have you felt the need for the acceptance that Jesus showed? If so, you might find Julia's experience interesting.
Janet Beal has been a Cru® staff member for 60 years, serving most of that time in Latin America. She currently serves as an academic mentor for five staff members who are participating in a master’s program focusing on their leadership development. She delights in mentoring young women leaders, hanging out with her family, cross-stitching and reading voraciously.
Get some ideas to turn holiday conversations — from Christmas to New Year's Day — toward Jesus.
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