As a child, I loved watching the black and white old movies, especially of the Marx Brothers. Their funny hats and hair and antics were endlessly fascinating, as were their comic banter and impossible tangles they got themselves in and out of. The wit of Groucho Marx wasn’t only entertaining, but a piercing stab at the snobby class values of his day. One of his famous quips was, “I sent the club a wire stating, Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”
Keeping others out wasn’t unknown in Jesus’ day either, as He was known as a friend of sinners. The scribes and Pharisees thought it was scandalous, and often criticized Him for this. Being a right wing and respected religious group, they separated themselves from anything they considered to be sinful, and also considered anyone else but themselves to be separated from God’s love. Jesus’ reply to this implied snobbery and exclusion was simple but profound. “And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that He was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, ‘Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ And when Jesus heard it, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.'” (Mark 2:16-17 ESV)
Eating and sharing a meal with others is a sign both of friendship and an intentional relationship. Jesus really connected with people, making room for them, giving them value, and loving the children of God. As a “doctor of our souls”, He came to attend those who are sick with sin. What a perfect doctor! His office is always open, His diagnosis is right the first time, the cure is complete, and Jesus even pays the medical bills!
Our Jesus is the perfect model of what it means to connect with all people, not just the ones in our “club”, but the ones who don’t qualify or don’t have anyone to let them in. He knew what it means to really be with others, giving them His full attention, and showing love and acceptance. As we meet the people of this world who need His love and care, may we look to our beloved Doctor of Souls as our guide and friend, and introduce Him to others.