Jesus Came To Call Sinners, Not The Righteous
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus, in His ministry, sets up an interesting pattern:
- He first calls us to follow Him
- He then eats and dwells with us
- He then teaches us
- He sets us free to replicate His success.
In another shocking event in the ministry of Jesus, He calls Matthew, a Jewish Tax Collector for the Roman Empire, to follow Him. It was one thing for Jesus to call fishermen and other Jews to follow Him. But to call a Tax Collector? Stop the presses!
The Jews who became Tax Collectors were among the most despised people of the Jews. They were considered traitors by most Jews who believed that they threw their lot in with the oppressive Roman government rather than stand against such villainy by uniting with the financially, socially, and otherwise persecuted Jews.
The Romans had inflicted terrible rules upon the Jews, including (among others) a forced census every fourteen years (the Roman Census forced all of the Jews [as well as the rest of the world] to return to their hometowns to register, imposing travel expenses and losses of revenue from their occupations due to the time (and goods) lost while they and their families [and their workers if they were employers] were off complying with the Roman dictates…), forced servitude (a Roman soldier could conscript a person to carry their possessions up to one mile), and humiliation (the Roman soldier was permitted to slap a Jew on his/her face).
With this in mind, imagine the shock of all of the Jews (Matthew included!) when Jesus called out to Matthew to “follow me”. Note that Matthew IMMEDIATELY got up and followed Jesus. We too should have the same frame of mind, and constantly seek to follow Jesus in all that He said for us to do (and continues to tell us to do through the Holy Spirit within us and the word of God).
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
After we begin to follow Jesus, we are to sup with him. Jesus (God the Son), God the Father, and the Holy Spirit (God the Spirit) take up residence within us. They make Their home in us. The Holy Spirit is our down-deposit on our inheritance provided to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as heirs to the Kingdom of God.
Since He dwells within us, we can partake of the food which others do not know, and drink of the spring of Living Water that flows within each of us. As we yield ourselves to God, we are able to partake of His character and know Him better.
As we grow in our spiritual life, we begin to get a foothold on the truths of the word of God. We then begin to overcome, then mature into adulthood. When we mature, we should be seeking to handle the Word of God correctly. When we handle the word of God correctly, we will then be able to teach others the word of God.
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
It is time to free the captives. Those who know they are sinners and are torn over what they should do about it know that they are slaves to their sin. It is time for God’s people to get out and proclaim freedom for the captives. It is time to remember our great calling, and to do what our Lord has commanded us to do. Is is time to yield everything that we have and are to God, and let Him take care of the rest. It is time to be proper examples to the lost – Light on top of a hill, and Salt to a culture that needs the savory flavor of freedom when everyone seems to be in bondage. Let us not be lacking in compassion to those who are in a spiritual prison, but rather, let us be the ones who seek their release and rehabilitation back into the world of spiritual life. For Christ has come to give us life, and abundantly so. Let us finish His good work, so that we may claim our reward.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I prepared to be a productive worker in the kingdom of God?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have given me Your Son that I may be free. And if the Son has freed me, then I am free indeed. Help me to extend this freedom to all who would hear. Help me to remember that I am just the messenger. Father, prepare my heart for rejection, and my spirit for persecution, for I am not greater than Jesus, and should expect this when I step out for Him. Give me the same passion and drive that You gave the Apostles and Paul. Help prepare me so that I may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. Help me to learn and know Your word, and how to handle it correctly. Then help me to remember that in the time of challenge, that it will be Your Spirit who speaks through me so that I will be vindicated, for this is my heritage. This I ask in the precious and holy name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.