Thoughts from Matthew 9…
“I lived a good life. God will want me.”
“You need to clean yourself up before coming to Jesus.”
“God only likes you if you are good person.”
These are popular thoughts. This belief even makes its way into the church — that God only wants you if you are acting nice. Clean yourself up. Act respectable. Then, and only then, can you get close to God.
But Jesus says the opposite. He did not come to congratulate the righteous. He came to save the sinners!
In other words, Jesus does not come for those who are acting good. He came those who realize that they need Him. For those who know that they can’t save themselves.
Jesus showed that the He has power over sin. He is God, and therefore He can forgive the broken man as easily as He can heal his body. Nothing is too great for Him!
And then, Jesus demonstrated the type of people whom He would call. Walking by the Sea of Galilee, He came to one of the most hated of all people, a tax gatherer. This was a local Jewish merchant who had contracted out to the oppressing Romans to gather their taxes for them. As part of his job, the tax gatherer was allowed to increase the required taxes, and even to invent new taxes as he wanted. These men were renowned for being liars and cheats. This tax gatherer, Matthew, had set up his office at the seaside, taxing the fishermen, their boats, and their fish.
Jesus passed by Matthew’s tax booth and simply says, “Follow me.” Matthew immediately left everything behind to follow Jesus Christ!
Matthew then threw a great feast at his house, giving a chance for his fellow tax collectors to meet the Lord. But not all are happy. The religious leaders, the Pharisees were indignant that this teacher would associate with such wicked people!
But Jesus has already shown that a holy lifestyle is not what is important to Him (see here). Instead, He came to show mercy to those who truly need Him. It is the sick who need a doctor, not the healthy.
Even John the Baptist’s disciples questioned His behavior. Doesn’t He know that this is the time of fasting? Jesus answered that there will be a time for fasting, but He has come to bring in the new kingdom. The old rituals are not compatible with the new kingdom in the same way that you cannot put a new patch on old clothes, or new wine into old wineskins. It is time for something new!
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”