Jesus Came To Save Hookers and Loan Sharks   Leave a comment

During my thrice-a-week commute to Baltimore for my summer internship, the path of the train goes by a pornography store. It’s a store located seemingly in the outskirts of the city, away from the scornful eyes of society. Because, even though we are in the midst of a society that openly celebrates sexuality, it is still a society that will look down on a man who must entertain himself in the late morning at a pornography store. Whether the morally pure scorn such a man for his sexual perverseness or the morally depraved scorn such a man for his sexual ineptitude—he is scorned by society, as a whole. I saw such a scornful man this past week as he entered this store in the late morning, donning a hat and sunglasses.

Then, it dawned on me—Jesus came to save hookers and loan sharks. Jesus asks, “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go” (Matthew 21:28-31).

The first son was outwardly sinful and disobedient. He shamed his father by openly disobeying him. But, his conscience ate at him because his sin was out in the open. There was no denying that he was deserving of societal scorn. And, he acted upon his guilt, obeying his father’s will after verbally disobeying him.

The second son—well, I am the second son. I am good at saying “I will, sir” and horrible and doing what I say. I preach the gospel but I live sin. I looked at that man entering the pornography store and I thought, “How shameful that you are a middle-aged man, probably with a wife and kids, and you spend your morning entertaining such things.” But here’s the thing about that man—his sin is out in the open. Everyone who was walking by, driving by, or training by that day saw what he was doing—and that is the greatest position any sinner can be in. There is no denying your sinfulness. You deserve scorn and you will receive it from all of society. But, there I stood, a self-righteous Pharisee judging him for his sins while I hid behind by obedient and honorable words: “I will, sir.”

I am no better than the man entering the pornography store. I am just as much to be shamed and, possibly, even more so than he. I hope and trust that the Lord is working on that man’s heart so that his conscience would eat at him and he would come to a place of brokenness before God. I hope that he would see how dirty he is and how dirty his lifestyle has been—and that he would repent of his sins and grasp onto the promises of a greater joy and satisfaction in Jesus Christ.

Jesus continued his story of the two sons, saying, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him” (Matthew 21:31-32).

So, why did Jesus come to save hookers and loan sharks? Because they are despicable in this world and they cannot possibly hide behind a veneer of righteousness or goodness. When asked if she will get into a heaven, a hooker cannot possibly say “Yes” after she had just entertained her tenth customer of the week. When asked if he is a good person, a loan shark cannot possibly say “Yes,” after he busts some heads and breaks some teeth to get back the $500 he loaned the previous week. They cannot possibly be the second son who acts honorably on the surface, but is really hateful and disobedient.

It is the hooker and the loan shark alone who can come before Jesus on their hands and knees, begging Him for mercy because they have only lived a life deserving of scorn and wrath. Only the hooker and the loan shark will wash Jesus’ feet with their tears and wipe them with their hair.

The rest of the people—the honorable members of society—they will be busy trying to show how good they are and how deserving they are of heaven. They come before Jesus with their heads held high because they already said, “I will, sir.” They think that since they’ve fooled the rest of society well enough to avoid their scorn and disdain, God must not have anything to accuse them of. But God will not only accuse them, He will fully inform their consciences so that they realize that they are no different than the hookers and the loan sharks they persecuted.

Not “they”—“we.” I belong in this second category because I find myself, over and over again, holding onto my righteousness and pointing to the merits of my life’s resume. Help the poor? I will, sir. Serve in the church? I will, sir. Love my friends and family? I will, sir. Make a positive impact in my community? I will, sir.

And there will be plenty of people who will respond “I will, sir” all the way to hell. They will be in hell saying, “But I said that I would.” But, here’s the thing. I will, sir? No, I can’t. I can’t because I am a hooker and a loan shark. The hooker is sexually promiscuous, and I am an adulterer at heart. The loan shark is a thief and a murderer, and I have coveted and hated others in my heart. At least the hooker knows that she’s a hooker. At least the loan shark knows that he’s a loan shark. Me? Well… I’m just human. I’m not perfect. I have a few vices. NO! NO! NO! I am a hooker! I am a loan shark! And unless I remind myself of that daily, I find myself just saying “I will, sir” while my heart rejoices in thinking that I’ve fooled God.

Some of you are reading this and you have not bowed the knee and fallen face down before Jesus Christ. You are still holding onto the merits of your “I will, sir.” You won’t because you can’t. Adultery? Murder? Theft? You are guilty—you are guilty of it all. Do not be like the second son in Jesus’ story who, after seeing the mercy of God in washing the dirtied hooker and forgiving the destitute loan shark. Do not try so hard to come to the presence of God with honor and dignity because the more you puff your chest and the higher your head is held, the more you earn hell. Stoop your shoulders and lower your gaze because you are being faced with the perfect standard of God: “You shall be holy, for I [God] am holy” (1 Peter 1:16) and “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Fall to your knees and plead for mercy—because God will give grace to the humble. God is kind to grant the gift of new life in Jesus Christ to anyone who would genuinely ask for it. Find your salvation in Christ.

Some of you readers are Christians who have already come before Christ, broken and beaten-down, begging for mercy rather than justice. Yet, some of you Christians are like me—you wag your finger at the hooker and you stiffen your neck against the loan shark. Don’t, lest you forget—you are a hooker and you are a loan shark. Apart from Jesus Christ, there is nothing praiseworthy about you. Remember the days when you first came before God on your hands and knees, with the weight of sin on your shoulders and the burden of your guilt searing your conscience. Remember that when you are most willing to confess that you are no cleaner than a hooker and no better than a loan shark—that is when Jesus will be most kind to bring you comfort and rest. Remember your salvation in Christ.

To all you hookers and loan sharks—don’t ever try to stand on your own two feet, for He will cut you down. To all you hookers and loan sharks—bow the knee to Christ and He will raise you up.

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Posted July 30, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

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