“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at th tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him.” Vs. 9. ESV
If Peter, Andrew, James and John – Galilean fishermen – were unlikely candidates to be Jesus’ disciples, Matthew was like the last guy to be picked for basketball. Tax collectors were employed by the Roman government and were hated by the rest of their countrymen. It didn’t help that they not only worked for Rome, they also had a license to cheat and impose pretty much whatever levy they wanted on their citizens. When Matthew responded positively to Jesus’ call, the whole group went to Matthew’s house for dinner. This cemented the religious leaders’ view of Jesus. Good people, and especially religious people didn’t associate with tax collectors and other sinners. Jesus lets them know that this is exactly the group he came to reach – people who needed a relationship with God.
When we become Christians, especially if we’ve been believers for a long time, we can start having some of the same attitudes as the leaders of Jesus’ day. It’s easier and feels better to spend time with people like us. People who say the right things and do the right things. But, we need to remember who it was that Jesus came to save, and remember that every one of us is a sinner who needs God’s grace. A big part of our mission is to develop relationships with people who are far from God and introduce them to the one who saved us.
God, never let us forget that at one point we were far from you. Thanks for the people who took time to introduce us to you, and for the relationship we now have. Help us continue that process by intentionally making friends with people who are far from you, and by our words and actions introduce them to the best relationship they’ve ever had – a relationship with you.