SECTION 3: THE CREDENTIALS OF JESUS THE KING
THE CALL OF MATTHEW
CALLING ALL SINNERS
Scripture To Consider:
“Then as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ And he arose and followed Him. And so it was as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and His disciples.”
“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ But when Jesus heard that, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’” Matthew 9.9-13
Something To Consider:
Between the second and third group of miracles there are introduced two incidents which in themselves demonstrate the divine power of Christ. The first was the call to discipleship of a publican, or a tax collector of customs or taxes, by the name of Matthew, the man to whom the authorship of this gospel is assigned.
His occupation was such as to place him among the social outcasts, but One who could cleanse the leper and heal the paralytic evidently was also able to transform a despised publican into an apostle, and evangelist, and a saintly biblical scribe under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The faith of Matthew was shown by his immediate response, by the evident sacrifice he made in leaving all to follow the Master, and also by his inviting his friends to a great feast at which Jesus was the guest of honor. It is not difficult to draw parallels which may suggest how a show of sincerity may be manifested after our accepting Christ in our generation.
The enemies of Jesus were ready with their criticism. They complained that Jesus ate with publicans and sinners. This was the occasion for His uttering one of His most suggestive sayings, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Here Jesus asserts His absolute power to give moral healing. He implies that if the Pharisees were morally sound as they professed, they should not begrudge His going to the morally sick, as they regarded publicans to be.
Jesus did not declare the Pharisees to be sound; that was their estimate of themselves. They really deserved a rebuke, and so He quotes from the Old Testament, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” A sacrifice might be a mere external act, but the important thing in the sight of God is a right heart. The Pharisees were formally right in the avoidance of sinners; but they showed their evil hearts by their lack of sympathy, and by their enmity against Christ Jesus.
Then Jesus added, “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” He does not mean to affirm that any class of men, women, and or young people are truly righteous; but He wishes to emphasize that His ministry is for sinners. As Matthew invited outcasts to his feast, so Jesus, as the divine host, is ever calling even the worst of sinners to share the blessings of His kingdom.
More Scripture To Consider:
“Then the disciples of John came to Jesus, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and they will fast.’“
“No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9.14-17
Something Else To Consider:
The liberty Jesus felt in the matter of mere ceremonial observance was further emphasized by His reply to the question as to why He did not require His early followers to observe frequent fasts. He declared that fasting as a religious rite is perfectly proper if it is a genuine expression of religious feeling, but as a matter of rule, or requirement, or as grounds for merit, it is futile and absurd.
So, for His early disciples, it would be most unfitting to fast while He, the heavenly bridegroom, was with them. When they are separated from Him, then they will fast. Yet, even then, these matters of ceremony would have little importance. He had not come to make a few additions to the Jewish ritual, as a man might put a patch on an old garment. Nor yet, could the old forms of Judaism contain the spirit of the gospel He was proclaiming, and His disciples would eventually proclaim in His absence.
As new wine, fermenting and expanding would burst previously used leather bottles already stretched or worn by age and use, so the religion of Christ could not be confined to any set of ceremonies and should not be confused with any ritual. It was a new life imparted by faith in Jesus. It was to control men, women, and young people, not by rules, but by motives. Its symbol was not a fast but a feast.
Something More To Consider:
Fanny Crosby published in 1883, a song entitled, “Jesus Is Tenderly Calling.” Will Thompson three years earlier wrote and published the song entitled, “Softly And Tenderly”, now known as “Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling.” The first verse and refrain contain the following words;
Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He is waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.
Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!
I do not imagine Mr. Thompson would be upset if for the purpose of this study we change the last line of his refrain to, “Calling, all sinners, come home!” Calling all sinners has been the extended and yet the behind-the-scenes ministry of the Holy Spirit for nearly two thousand years. I rejoice at the fact that Jesus called Matthew who was rejected by most Jewish circles because of his chosen occupation of tax collector but chosen by Jesus to pen the first gospel of four in sequential order.
But I rejoice more that Jesus continues calling all sinners of whom you and I and others down through the centuries have been included into the everlasting possibly soon coming kingdom of Christ. Therefore, Jesus continues calling all sinners to come and to follow Him, to learn of Him, to deny themselves, and to take up our own cross and to follow Him!
A Few Final Words:
And so, we must ask the question! What is it that we are doing to ensure the message of calling all sinners to come home, continues to be heralded? That is, are we praying, are we giving, are we willing to go in the name of Jesus if called upon? Or do we think as so many, that this message, calling all sinners, is much too old fashioned, much too politically incorrect, or simply no longer relevant for our technologically so-called advanced society?
The Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to declare in Romans 3.23, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Therefore, calling all sinners is indeed still biblically relevant for every individual living upon planet earth in this 21st century. As mentioned in another earlier study, 2 Peter 3.9 acknowledges, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Therefore, calling all sinners is still part of God’s will and relevant for every generation no matter how seemingly advanced, how so-called educated, or how far the human race has descended into sinful fulfillment of the flesh. God in Jesus Christ is still calling all sinners to come home before it becomes impossible by becoming too late.
Calling all sinners to come home should be Christianity’s theme song until Jesus comes again and our heavenly Father closes the divine door of opportunity forever!
Our Father in heaven, we thank You for calling Matthew as a first century follower of Jesus and eventually a divine scribe directed by Your holy inspiration in writing the gospel of Matthew. And we thank You Father for allowing the Holy Spirit to continue to call all sinners to Jesus Christ in this most possible end time 21st century generation. In Him Always, Amen!