As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”. When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices. For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” -Matthew 9:9-13 NLT
I would have been the sinner Jesus was hanging out with at this table when the Pharisee’s came in. I have been told by the world every single reason why I could not be forgiven. I have been told that the things I have done are too awful to forgive. I am not “worthy enough” or “clean enough” for his love. I mean come on, he is God and all, I hear the voice of the Pharisee’s. I would have been the sinner who sat at the table, who would have shrunk in her seat in shame and defeat, having another thought of suicide cross through my mind.
He did something that these religious pharisee’s could not understand due to being blinded by their pride and self-righteousness. Jesus said,
“When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices. For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
My shame would have began to lift at the table as he spoke those words realizing that he was after people who were broken because he wants to mend their heart. Jesus wants those who know they messed up, they aren’t perfect, but want to be forgiven. I wanted to get better. I wanted to be whole. I wanted to feel loved. What I really needed was him.
What many do not realize is that Jesus gives the Pharisee’s the opportunity to repent, he even gives them directions to “go and learn the scriptures”. There are many people today who have been caught up in the act of religion just as the Pharisee’s. They go through the rituals and the motions of “church”. Claiming to be Christians yet they are not following Christ. On the flip side, I have also been the Pharisee. I have been so caught up in fear and pride that it became this nasty mix of self-righteousness. I told people I knew Jesus, yet when he was standing right in front of me, I did not even realize it was him. He told me the same thing as he told the Pharisee’s “go and learn the scriptures”. I am thankful that there is mercy and grace. Through his word he has set me free from being a Pharisee. He has shown me that it is not by what we do or do not do, but through his blood that sets us free. He has gently reminded me that it is by HIS LOVE we will be known.
Reading the Holy Bible and the words of God is one huge love story about the redemption of his children. The Bible is full of the people the world calls no ones, yet God says that they are marked by him as his children. The nobodies are really the chosen one’s from God, they are an heir of the creator.
There is no one in this story that Jesus would not accept their repentance. It does not matter if you are the Pharisee or the Tax Collector. Jesus is calling your name. He is telling you to leave those things behind and to come into a relationship with him or maybe he is telling you to come back close to him again. He wants you to leave your past behind, even if that means five minutes ago, and to learn what it means to be a Child of God. As he spoke to Matthew in the beginning of Chapter 9, Jesus is saying “follow me”. All you have to do is simply call on his name. Calling on his name is a continual process. While his blood covers us once and for all, we need to continue to get to know him to remain in him and him remain in us.
I am thankful that when I was The Pharisee and when I was the Tax Collector, he was redeemer in both.
Jesus has said come to me, forget what is behind, strip off that weight of shame, and FOLLOW ME. Jesus continues to say follow me. We can follow his example by proclaiming freedom to those bound down & bringing Good News to the poor. We are following Jesus when we let him know that he is still healing the brokenhearted and that he is coming again! We are to remind them that he trades beauty for ashes, oil of joy for mourning, and he is able and willing to exchange the spirit of praise for the spirit of heaviness!
It does not matter where you are at with life, Jesus has chosen you and is calling your name. His love for you is steadfast. He loves you at your darkest moment to your brightest because his love is purse and defiled, unlike anything here on earth.
I am not sure who you are in this. Maybe you have been both like me. What I do know is that HE knows you. He loves you. And he is waiting for you with open arms.