Good Friday! The day that changed history. The cross that still calls people today to follow Jesus. To people like Matthew.
“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. ’For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9 v 9-13)
He was a hated man. Having paid all the taxes to Rome himself he then collected taxes from the people and hiked them up with huge interest which gave him a very good living. He was greedy, wealthy and selfish. Yet he was ready to leave it all. There was no pull to stay. He needed a new life. He needed to get out. He needed a better purpose to live for. He had many friends like him. They stayed together in some sort of exclusive despised club. There they were altogether dining with Jesus. But others were there too. A group who would sneak into private dinner parties and snoop around looking for ‘sin’, wanting to demonstrate how righteous they were. They were the cleaners and evictors of sin. They spoke confidently. They were not in need. Jesus didn’t call them. There was in fact no need.
If you are in need today He calls you. It doesn’t matter how you got into that need or whether you are responsible for it. You may be to blame or you may be innocent. He doesn’t come to sort it all out and put the sinners into one corner and the victims in another. He calls those in need for whatever the reason and actually those he dines with seem to be the ones no one would want to dine with.
But make no mistake the dinner invitation is for total transformation of your life. It is with Jesus your Saviour who saves us from sin not condemns us because of it. Matthew has responded to that call of change and this Good Friday we acknowledge that call too.
Jesus looks for COMMITMENT: “If this man can be committed to do a job that everyone hates him for, then he won’t let me down.”
Jesus looks for IMPERFECTION: “I need a tax collector to be part of my team, I need those who the religious disqualify and who would never think of having any other destiny. I need the imperfect.”
Jesus looks for INITIATIVE: “I need followers who know what must be done to follow. On my simple invitation I know this man will get up, he will leave everything and he will host dinner parties for the community of sinners who also need a Saviour.”
Today on this our special day, the community of sinners, the Church, will gather in-person or online and will partake in the Lord’s Supper with their Saviour. The imperfect and disqualified will once again show their commitment to Jesus and will follow Him to the cross, the place of their transformation.