“And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eat with publicans and sinner, they said unto His disciples, How is it that He eats and drinks with publicans and sinners. When Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2: 16-17).

Sometimes we are pressured to discriminate against others that are different. It happens quite frequently in schools. As a child on campus, you probably heard one group telling another to not have anything to do with those children from that side of town.   Grown- ups also pressure others to separate. No doubt, someone has told you, “You need to stay away from those low-life people.” When holier-than- thou friends try to get you to disassociate from others that they think are not good enough, what do you do? Do you yield under pressure, or do you defend you right to associate with whomever you please? If you defend your rights, you are following Jesus’ example.

In Mark 2: 16, we read that the scribe and Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with publicans and sinners?” Jesus overhears this act of pressure and responds with the perfect defense. In a sense, he tells them that the “well” needs no doctor; the sick does. Jesus came to save sinners. Since He came to save sinner, He mingled freely with whomever needed saving. If that included the liar, the prostitute, the backbiter, the poor; then, so be it. He had to relate with them in order spread the gospel to them.

The next time someone tries to pressure you to exclude anyone, will you stand for what is right even if it causes others to criticize you? Many times we stay within the church walls and minister to members for fear of associating with the wrong people.   Will you  go wherever you need to go, and talk to whomever you need to, if that is what it takes to save sinners? Of course, you will, and you will never surrender to the pressure to exclude.

Prayer: Dear God, we realize that many have surrendered to the pressure to exclude others. Help us to discern what is right and stand firm to defend that right even if it means being criticized by our peers.  In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.