Mt 9:9-13

By Mari­nus ven Rey­mer­swa­ele

What if. . .
. . . doctors only saw the healthy?
. . . dentists only saw those with the perfect smile?
. . . counselors only saw the happy and well adjusted?
. . . universities only admitted the educated?
. . . glasses were only given to those with perfect sight?
. . . if Jesus only came for the righteous?

If that were true, we’d all be in trouble. In looking at the story of the call of Matthew, we discover that Jesus came not for those who thought themselves righteous, but those who, knowing they were sinners, were open to his love and forgiveness.

No doubt the tax collector named Matthew had heard about Jesus. In the busyness of his day of collecting taxes for the Romans (and himself) from his fellow Jews, he most certainly heard rumors about this young man who was making an impact through his teaching and miracles. We could probably assume that Matthew thought of himself as someone who would not nor could not be part of Jesus’ targeted audience. He knew what reputation he had and how he was hated by his people. He knew that he was considered among the dregs of society and considered no better than robbers and murderers. What could Jesus have to say to him?

To his surprise, Jesus approached him, one of the most despised members of society, and asked that Matthew simply follow him. It appears that Matthew’s decision to drop everything and to take that leap of faith was somewhat impulsive and instantaneous. He did not stop to analyze the situation. He seemed to instantly know that Jesus saw something in him worth saving. He knew that Jesus was offering him so much more than what he was now experiencing. In retrospect, Matthew might have done a cost-benefit analysis:

Unconditional Love
Being on the outside

After making this leap, Jesus came to dinner with Matthew and his circle of friends, also among the dregs of society. The Pharisees, who were known by their need to appear righteous by following all the rules, were appalled at the sight of Jesus cavorting with such a wicked group. Those who were orthodox in that day just did not mix with those who were outside of their group Jesus replied that the purpose of a doctor was not to treat those who were well, but those who were sick In the same way, Jesus’ purpose was not to come for those who had no need for him (those who thought they were already righteous), but for those who knew their sin and knew their need to be saved from their sin. In that one statement, Jesus broke down the barriers between the insiders and the outsiders. Instead of sitting in judgment like the Pharisees, Jesus only loved and forgave those who needed it the most and were open to being called by him.

Jesus approaches us in the midst of our sin and asks us to admit our need, take that leap of faith, and receive the benefits of following him. . . .destiny, honor, adventure, unconditional love, belonging and peace. I believe those benefits far outweigh any costs!

By Michele Millard