I’m focusing on just 5 verses today because I’ve discovered just how packed with meaning they are.
Verse 9 Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting in the tax collector’s booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.
All I can think of is that when Jesus looked at Matthew He must have seen “into” the heart of Matthew. He saw more than the projected image of Matthew. When others looked at Matthew, what might have they seen? A horrible person who sells out his own people to collect tax and make a living off the backs of his own? Whether or not Matthew was honest in his trade or not wouldn’t be the first thing noticed by anyone. But Jesus saw more.
Praise God that He is able to see each one of us clearly, over and above what we may project to others because the person we project to the public is very seldom anywhere close to the truth of who we truly are on the inside.
Verse 10 Many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.
This verse is probably one of the most important verses in the Bible. (I say one of the most important because vs 12 & 13 take the cake!)
Picture this: Jesus was God’s son, Jesus is God. Here He is reclining (at total ease, relaxed) in the midst of, what back then was considered the worst of the worst. In fact, tax collectors probably ranked just below Roman soldiers and just above prostitutes and lepers. These people Jesus was surrounded with, and not just surrounded with, but ‘dining’ with, these were scum. Not to be trusted, and in some cases, people to be feared. They were the lost, the walking dead, the hopeless and the wicked. And Jesus was reclining at the table with them and His disciples, who were at this point, equally lost but at least they were slowly learning.
Think about what happens when you go out to eat with a group of friends? You all are sitting around a table making an evening of talking. There are stories flying this way and that, jokes and laughter, until everyone is so relaxed with each other. Good food, good friends etc. Jesus is God.
And here He is on earth, as a man, eating and drinking and dining with lowly nobody’s. He didn’t look down on them. He wasn’t stiff and up-tight with a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, though He had every right to it. He was reclining and dining with them, even in His perfection. There’s a huge lesson here for all believers on how to act with non-believer’s.
Jesus and His disciples had to have invited others to join them to dine. How many times when you’re out with friends, have you invited strangers to hang out with you? How many times have you opened up your table and your discussions to strangers around you? (In someplace other than a bar.) How many times have you entertained ‘strangers’ (those whom you don’t know well) in your own home?
Verses 11-12 The Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples why their Teacher was eating with the tax collectors and sinners. But when Jesus heard this, He said,”It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.”
This is one of those ‘Duh!’ moments. I have them myself quite frequently! How could they not figure this one out on their own? And yet, being so simple to understand, people still get it wrong today!
Look around at our model of churches today. There is a church of varying denominations every few blocks you travel. On a positive note, all who seek to learn more can find some kind of church to go to and hear something.
That being said, what happens when the service is about to begin?
The doors are shut.
Something that is such a small detail, no big deal, has such a huge impact.
The doors are shut.
They seal the truth inside and keep the world outside. Unfortunately, they also become a barrier. They ‘say’ to passersby – something’s going on inside, don’t interrupt. For sinners who are hesitant, they may as well be barred and locked.
What would happen if the doors were left open?
Sinners on the street passing by might pause if they hear good music. Those not bold enough to step inside, might hang out by the door and listen to the message. Some bolder and more curious sinners may step inside and feel God for the first time. Stranger things have happened…
Churches used to be open and manned in the evenings, at night time. Due to crime and fear, most churches are now locked up tight and empty. The night time, the darkness is when this world MOST needs the light of God.
The darkness hides so much evil and people, sinners and saints alike, used to have a place of refuge from the dark in any church they stumbled upon. Now churches allow fear to rule them and have closed their doors to those seeking refuge. They’ve gone to ‘set hours’ and ‘appointments’.
I know I am not addressing the whole financial issue of manning a church 24/7…that is an entirely different issue altogether. But it seems churches in America at least, have decided that people only need a sanctuary and truth on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. For all other times, call this number…
Jesus came to help and heal the sick. The sinners of this world. So He reclined, dined, walked, talked and taught when and where THEY were, even while dining.
There were no closed doors with Him, and when the disciples screwed up and tried to close a door now and then (I’m thinking of the children where they tried to get the children away from Him) Jesus had no problem correcting them.
So why do we, as believers and followers of Christ, live with closed doors?
We should be singing louder and throwing doors open for ALL to hear! (And yes, with my singing it might very well drive people away, but at least I cannot lie and claim to be perfect right?)
Jesus came for the sick, for those lost, for the walking dead, for the sinners, like we once were. But now that we believe we have to acknowledge that the focus turns from us as believers to other sinners and others that are lost.
Now it isn’t all about us, but THEM!
Verse 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND (more than) NOT SACRIFICE, for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
If you are a believer, Praise God! Your work has just begun in Christ. But now, it’s not about you anymore. Christ will work in you, perfecting you each and everyday, if you submit to Him.
Jesus came for the sinners, not the righteous.
You are no longer ‘the lost’. You’ve been washed clean of your sins by the blood of the Lamb. Praise God!
Because of that, you need to remember Jesus’ purpose here on earth. It was to save. He came to save the sick, the sinners.
You are saved?
Cool! Move to the back of the line now and serve as you go, make room for the next sinner to receive the free gift of God.
If you are surrounding yourself with solely believers and if you are not humbling yourself by serving the lost, the wicked, the sinners among us, you’ve missed the point.
As believers we should be surrounding ourselves with sinners and loving them. We should be dining with them and relaxing with them and loving them through actions and the Word.
Yes, it is good to not forsake the brethren. Yes, believers need continual support and building up too. But if you aren’t using that build up by working and serving sinners, what are you doing with it? Are you selfishly seeking that next shot of energizing “feel good” for yourself alone?
What good does that light shining within you do, if only other believers see it?
You need to go from the energizing, filling up of church with the brethren, straight to a group of sinners who will notice that light and peace and energy radiating from within you so then they ill say, “I want me some of THAT!”
Open the doors in your own life, in your own church, with your own house and remember why Jesus walked this earth,
Remember why Jesus gave His life~
and remember Who He gave His life for.