27 And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me.
28And he left all, rose up, and followed him.29And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.30But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?31And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.32I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
In v27 we see Levi (Matthew) as an outcast of society - for he worked as a tax collector for the Romans who ruled over the people of Israel. He was probably responsible for the collection of customs as goods were moved from one side of the lake in Capernaum to the other. The Jews treated other Jews who worked for the Romans as traitors and had nothing to do with such people.
Although Levi was well to do and had a wonderful family of his own, he was probably saddened by this - not just he, but his kids and wife who were all treated poorly by the larger Jewish community.
One day as Jesus was passing by, He saw Matthew and said 2 words to him – the shortest recorded evangelization message – “Follow Me”. While Matthew had no doubt heard about Jesus, he certainly did not expect Jesus coming looking for him.
The same is true for us today – whenever we feel that we are all alone, that people who we expected to care for us, to love us have not only forgotten about us, but rejected us, we need to remember that the same Jesus who saw Matthew that day, see us in our situations.
All Jesus said to Matthew was “Follow Me” and we see that Matthew left everything, rose up and followed Jesus from that point on.
There is a powerful truth we see here that is often reiterated in ministering to the lowly, the meek, the downtrodden, the sick, the outcasts of society - they accept the Gospel more readily when compared with the rich and the wise of this world. While we may sometimes spend months, years and decades of energy trying to save over 1 soul, it may be wiser to sow seed where it has a better chance of sprouting!
In v28 we see Matthew leaving all that he had, rising up from behind the tax collection desk and following Christ Jesus. Note the order – (i) leave everything behind, (ii) rise up and (iii) follow Jesus. Many of the problems behind ineffectiveness in Christian life could be because we want to rise up before we leave some things behind. Correcting this order will re-establish the supremacy of Jesus in your life and you will be blessed for it!
In v29, we see a great feast prepared at Matthew’s home where Matthew’s old friends & acquaintances were invited. As Matthew did not have any Jewish friends it is but obvious that the kind of friends which showed up were not your typical Church going, bible-confessing Christians but the seemingly worst lot in Jewish society – the outcasts!
It is important here to recollect from our study thus far that Jesus spent his times of solitude (typically early morning and late nights) in His Father’s presence – praying. He spent his day ministering to others, through teaching the Word, healing the sick, and bringing deliverance to the demon possessed. However, at other times, Jesus was happy to go where the sinners where and join in their celebrations! Please note that Jesus himself did not play with sin, but he never rejected spending time with the sinner. How do we react when someone comes newly to the faith? Do we require them to come to more Church meetings or are we willing to go where they are and minister to not just them, but their friends who need salvation?
There are 3 reasons why Matthew invited Jesus home:
(i) To honour Jesus
(ii) To witness publicly that his life was changed and that he was becoming a follower of Jesus
(iii) To introduce Jesus to his friends and pluck a few out of the fires of Hell!
In v30, we see the Pharisees and Scribes accuse Jesus a second time – the complaint this time that He and His disciples were breaking bread with sinners!
In v31-32 Jesus responds to this by saying that only sick people need a doctor and that He came not to call the righteous but the sinners to repentance. In reality, the Pharisees and Scribes needed salvation just as much as the common folks (called “Sinners”) but their self-justification and “holier-than-thou” attitude meant that even though Jesus was in the same room as them, He could not help or heal them.
We see the Pharisees and scribes continuing in their earlier behaviour and a pattern begins to emerge – a group of religious scholars who continually question Jesus and a group of ordinary people or sinners who believe in him. No prizes for guessing which group was blessed more!
May the Lord help us see others like Jesus saw Matthew that day. May we not judge people by their outward appearances but see them like Jesus did. May He help us evangelize by not being afraid to go to the fringes of society, but to be a people filled led by His Spirit who can carry the aroma of Christ into a world filled with darkness and pain. May he help us believe Him without questioning! In Jesus name… Amen!