Jesus – the “righteous guy” (and I mean really righteous – not “hypocritical righteous”) always hanging out with the wrong people! Caused quite a stir in the religious establishment (among the “hypocritical righteous)! They didn’t have the right “pedigree” or affiliation. The people he hung out with didn’t attend synagogue regularly (once a year, if at all). They didn’t keep all the “ritual stuff” … washing their hands at the right time, chanting the proper prayers, they didn’t “tithe” and a lot of other “religious things” the religious establishment expected. But they had this in common… they all needed God!
And then Jesus, led by the Spirit, stops by a Roman tax booth! Those guys were notoriously bad … rip off artists, complicit with the evil Roman empire, greedy and godless, loathed by any self-respecting Jew! Jesus calls Matthew, the tax collector, (the guy after whom this book in the Bible is named) and Matthew follows him! His life is transformed by God’s grace and invites all of his old tax collecting friends and other “sinners” that he knew over for dinner to meet Jesus!
Made the religious establishment mad! “When the Pharisees saw this they said to Jesus’ disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with the tax collectors and sinners?!’”
Jesus’ answer to them says a lot about Him… and a lot about what REAL Christianity ought to look like…
Jesus said, “Those who are healthy don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. Go and learn what this saying means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners!” (Matthew 9:12–13 from the NET Bible)
Three things about Jesus’ approach challenged me this morning and caused me to pray this prayer… Sincerely I might add…
• Lord, help me to put more emphasis on helping those who really need help!
• Lord, help me to exhibit your grace and mercy a whole lot more than religious ritual!
• Lord, help me to embrace Your passion and love for those who don’t know you and aren’t following you yet… Help me to effectively issue your invitation to “follow” with a humble loving heart! (After all, I’m just a sinner saved by grace!)