Open up your bibles, your phones, to Matthew chapter 9.
Jesus is still going around the northern area of Israel called Galilee. And He has returned to His current Hometown of Capernaum where He just healed a paralyzed man for forgiving His sins. And we learned that All our maladies and issues and pains stem from the sin that is in the whole world. But Jesus is the one with the power to forgive sins and restore us from any disease, affliction, and any trouble.
He is going to continue his powerful ministry of Healing and miracles to show the world and us that He is the God of Israel who can do all things and who has come to save His people once and for all!
So let’s get into the scripture starting at verse 9 where he leaves Capernaum:
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.
A person tasked with collecting taxes for a government. Often these people were either corrupt or perceived to be corrupt in that they would collect more than was necessary and pocket the extra themselves.
So Jesus comes up this man, He initiates, and doesn’t ask, but tells Matthew: Follow me. He is calling him. It is direct, it is personal, it leaves no room for confusion. Jesus wants Matthew to Follow Him.
But the end result is that Matthew obeyed. He responded to the call of Jesus and followed Him in that moment. Which is strange, isn’t it? If some random person you never met came to you and said “follow me”, my answer would be “no.” It’s weird and suspicious.
And Matthew was not forced to follow. Jesus does not put a spell on Matthew. Matthew had a choice.
Everybody who is called has the chance to say no. That’s what many in this world do. Like story of the rich man who left Jesus sad, because he did not want to sell His possessions.
So did Matthew already know or hear about Jesus? Maybe. But let’s open ourselves up to the possibility that Jesus’ words and His call are actually as powerful as we have been learning.
So now Matthew and Jesus are together at a meal.
And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.
If you have ever wondered why the bible keeps saying that people recline a the table, it’s because they did not use chairs. they all laid on their sides, almost in each other’s laps.
But they were joined by crowd of mixed reputation.
As you now, tax collectors are not popular because they are fleecing everyone. they are seen as traitors, as low-lifes.
But then Matthew mentions “sinners”
Now we know that every person on earth is a sinner.
But back the, as now, people like to mark some as “sinners” who were known to live in a certain sin. Like High profile sins, like prostitution.
But the overall point Here is that Jesus is sitting with people who are outcasts, despised, and condemned by everyone else because their sin is public and visible.
And People are noticing the crowd that jesus attracts. In the crowd are Pharisees
And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Pharisee: An important Jewish sect at the time of Jesus that was devoted to exact observance of the Jewish religion.
These guys usually are painted in a very bad light. They are seen as evil, because some of them eventually plotted to have Jesus killed.
But we want to understand that the Pharisees really respected God and thought that the best way to honor Him was by exactly following every rule possible. But they took it way too far. So they lived their lives by all these rules, and they added more rules just to be safe, and they taught people they have to do the same. And they looked down on those who didn’t follow all of their rules.
so, naturally, when they see Jesus sit with these “sinners”, they scoff at Him and prod His disciples about it.
and we will come to learn, the Pharisees love calling out, accusing, correcting. But every time they bring something to Jesus, it backfires. It’s like Wiley coyote setting traps for the roadrunner.
But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
We have been learning about the tremendous power and authority of Jesus, but now we see another glimpse on what it’s all for.
Jesus didn’t come to us in human flesh to show us a few tricks, pull off a few miracles, leave us with some cool teachings, and then be gone again.
No, Jesus came to save those who need saving.
All of these healings and miracles and teachings, they all point to one thing: Jesus Christ will lay His life down so that the sins of the world can be forgiven. So that the guilty will be free, so that the sick can be healed.
So if you are someone or know someone who is not perfect, who makes mistakes, who has sinned greatly, and who cannot help themselves. Guess what, you are just God’s type!
These pharisees have come to believe that God will only love those who have their act together. He will only love those who follow the rules and live squeaky clean lives. He will only love those who check the right boxes.
As God comes to us in the flesh in Jesus, He shows us first hand that His love is not conditional
God loves the unlovely. God loves those you don’t love. God loves you when nobody else loves you. And God love you when you can’t even love yourself.
There is not a single person in this world that isn’t sick from sin. Ad there is not a single person who cannot be made whole by Jesus love.
No one has done too much or gone too far. If we think so, we sell the power of Jesus short. It would imply that God’s love has a limit or a threshold. But it doesn’t.
Let’s take another look at our reading for today:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Would you give your life to save a righteous person? Maybe. MAAAAAYBE. but let’s be honest. probably not.
So think of how radical it is that Jesus gave HIS precious life for people like these sinners, people like us, when we had no righteousness of our own!
Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
This is a quote from God as He speaks through the Old Testament prophet Hosea. Here’s what it means.
In old testament times, people could offer sacrifices in order to pay the price of their sin and be forgiven. So eventually the people thought, “it’s okay to sin as long as you sacrifice. So sin all you want!
But That wasn’t the point. God wants His people to obey Him, to love one another, and to stop sinning.
the people had lost sight of who God really is and what He really wants.
The Pharisees do the same thing and Jesus knows it. They are more than happy to follow traditions and rules and regulations. But they do not understand God or His desire, or His heart for people.
God did say that those who sin and trespass and go against his will will be condemned. But the heart of God is to save and restore these people!
but this concept is so foreign to them, they will struggle with it and many will reject it.
So now we have come full circle with the pharisees accusing Jesus, and then he has to tell these experts of studying scripture “go learn what this means”. Its definitely an insult. He does it to them all the time. “Oh, haven’t you read what moses wrote?”
In between the miracles and healings, we get these glimpses into the greater picture of what Jesus is doing. His great plan and great mission. And it is for people like you and me.
We often like to think that we decide to believe in Jesus. That one day we knew enough or learned enough or read enough to really say “yes, this is for me!”.
But that’s not how faith works. It is a gift that God gives to us. He calls each and every one of us through the Gospel.
So when we hear about Jesus’s death and resurrection, His love, His forgiveness, and the eternal life that He gives, God works faith in us and says to us “Follow me.” And we are here because we are obedient to that call.
And now look at us, what a rag-tag bunch. We are the called people of Jesus.
But it is broke, sinful, clueless people like us that Jesus loves. He came for people like us.
But what’s more amazing is that God takes people like us and grows us! He changes our hearts. He gives us gifts and abilities. So that we are not only the recipients of Jesus mission, but we actually get to join Jesus on His mission.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
This good news of Jesus is a relief for broken people like us. But it’s also a relief for millions of other broken people who have no clue it even exists. SO we obey the call of Jesus to follow Him, because Jesus is not only leading us to eternal life, But He is also leading us on His mission to save the world.
Most of us have a pretty low view of ourselves. But we have to remember that we are a people who are loved by Jesus. And that we are a people Sent by Jesus into the world.
But remember, your Job is not to make people believe. The Holy Spirit alone can do that. Your Job is simply to share the good news of Jesus death and resurrection. Share His work in your life. Share the way He comforts and and courages you. Share the ways he calls out your sin and invites you back to Him. Share share share share!
Don’t judge people and exclude them. But love them and share the gospel.
and when people judge you for hanging out with “sinners’, love them and share the gospel.
how many of your relationships are for you? How many for others? How many for the Gospel?
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.”