9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew. He was sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him. Matthew got up and followed him. 10 Later Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house. Many tax collectors and “sinners” came. They ate with Jesus and his disciples. 11 The Pharisees saw this. So they asked the disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” 12 Jesus heard that. So he said, “Those who are healthy don’t need a doctor. Sick people do. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice.’ (Hosea 6:6) I have not come to get those who think they are right with God to follow me. I have come to get sinners to follow me.”
Jesus says ‘Follow me, and Matthew follows without excuse, delay, or regret. Matthew probably knew of Jesus’ reputation. Jesus knew his heart, and knew he was ready to give up the life he had known.
Matthew introduces Jesus to his friends at dinner and what a day! Their friend left his job and a famous teacher was eating with them. This was unheard of, teachers didn’t spend time with their sort. They were probably used to the sneers and lack of respect from the Pharisees. Jesus was different.
The Pharisees, who had elevated their reputations and the opinion of others above God, couldn’t understand this. Why Jesus would spend time with sinners instead of trying to impress them. Their own pride blocked them from understanding Jesus when he said, ‘For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’
If a Pharisee said, ‘follow me,’ to someone, that person would work very hard to imitate them and reverently grovel to please them. They would have to ‘get their life right’ before a Pharisee would say, ‘follow me’ Jesus calls Matthew when he is in the midst of his sin.
When Jesus says ‘follow me,’ he does not expect me to have my life in order. He just expects me to follow him, and he will transform me as I follow. As I follow him there will be a sense of peace.
Lord, when you say to me, ‘follow me,’ help me to follow without hesitating or looking back. If others say ‘follow me,’ help me to remember I follow You, and protect me from those who would use me. Forgive me for thoughts that exclude others or cause me to view them as less valuable. Transform me to see them as you see them, bring me to prayer whenever I begin to think too highly of myself.
Written by Cathy Croft