Jesus invited you to the party, just show up
Published 5:00 pm Friday, July 1, 2011
Passing along, Jesus saw a man at his work collecting taxes. His name was Matthew. Jesus said, “Come along with me.” Matthew stood up and followed him. Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riff-raff?” Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: “I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” (Matthew 9:9-13- The Message)
Probably just another average run of the mill day for Matthew. Not that his job was all that bad. Actually he sort of had a love/hate thing going with the whole tax collector gig. On the one hand, this job pretty much put him on Easy Street since he could skim profit from anyone he liked. Yet that in turn created the problem: skimming from your own kind is not a great way to win friends and influence people. So for the moment, his love for money was a little stronger than his need for relationships.
But that moment was about to change. He had heard of Jesus, and he actually had it down to talk to him about His so-called ‘non-profit’ ministry. So when he saw the Lord coming towards him, he had a barrage of inquiries ready to go. The funny thing though, is that Jesus spoke first, and it wasn’t at all like Matthew had expected. He anticipated the standard religious speech about how he was a cheat and a liar — blah blah blah. Instead, Christ made a simple request in one short sentence: “Come along with me.”
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Matthew knew immediately that this was not an invitation to backstage passes with Jesus and the band. No, He meant commitment — the kind that would last the rest of his natural life — then on into eternity. Maybe that’s why it was so easy for him, then, to simply get up and leave behind his career, means of income, and sense of security. At that moment in time Matthew realized that no paycheck was worth trading for an opportunity to serve the Living God of the universe.
Later on that night, his notion was confirmed. Matthew’s only friends at the time were people just like him: liars, cheaters, prostitutes, drunks, and all the other folks who wouldn’t be caught dead in a church. So naturally he invited them all over to his house to meet the Man who had changed his life in one encounter. But surprise surprise! The ‘religious’ folks of the day had kept track of Jesus’ latest recruit — and now they had caught Him red-handed with all the black-listed folks. So they started a little whisper campaign designed to ruin Christ’s reputation. You might have expected Jesus to get a little defensive, but instead He turns the insults back on them to make a point. Basically He lets them know that if they think grace is only for the goodie two shoes of the world, they have never even read the Bible they love claiming to be experts on. That was probably all Matthew needed to hear. All his life he had been shunned by those claiming to represent God, yet here is God Himself asking him to follow along. From then on his relationship with Christ beat the tar out of his love for a paycheck..
To me, people are usually in the same place as one or more of the players in the story above. Some are like Matthew and his friends- in self-serving materialistic positions that aren’t providing the hope and meaning they thought it would, and they need a Savior. Some folks think that you are the last persons on earth that God would care about, much less call into His service.
I’ve got great news for you … nothing could be further from the truth. God specializes in helping folks who feel the farthest away from Him. Perhaps you are reading this and you know exactly what I’m talking about. Jesus has invited you to the party, all you need to do is show up.