"As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him. 10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 12 But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."
Jesus didn't stay to revel in the adoration of the crowds that saw Him heal the paralytic, but went on to do His Father's business. Do you think people have a problem soaking in the praises of people and not continuing on promptly with their God-given assignment? This happens if we live for the praise of people rather than for the praise of God (Romans 2:29; Galatians 1:10).
As Jesus went on, He saw a tax collector, Matthew, sitting at his tax booth and commanded him, "Follow Me." Matthew got up and followed Him. Why? Matthew knew he was a sinner and needed a Physician.
Tax gatherers were Jews who used the Roman army to extort their own people out their money. They lived on what they took above what was taxed by Rome. Jesus offered a way out of sin. His message to the people was, "Repent and believe the good news, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
People who are aware of their sin and their inability to overcome it follow Jesus, like Matthew. Are you aware of your sin and need to follow Jesus? The 10 commandments diagnose sin (Exodus 20:1-17). Jesus cures sin (Matthew 1:21). Read the commandments. Are you sick with sin? If you have broken the commandments at one point you have broken all of them (James 2:10). Uncured sin leads to death which is described in Revelation 21:8 as eternal torment.
Jesus took His cure to sinners who knew they were sinners. Those who were sick with sin, but thought they were righteous because of their external practices did not "need" or "want" to follow Jesus. They didn't need a cure (Matthew 23:25-26).
Jesus was followed by people who knew they were sinners and needed His help. Who do you hang out with? It is good to have fellowship with the truly righteous just as Jesus did with His disciples, but we also need to invite into our lives the sinners who need to be cured of their sin. We need to remember our purpose is to call sinners to repent and believe the gospel.
Who in your sphere of influence are you calling to follow Jesus? Help them get diagnosed by asking diagnostic questions, "Have you ever lied?", "Have you looked lustfully at someone, which is adultery?", "Have you ever stolen something?” Present to them Jesus who is the cure for sin. Give them the prescription: Repent of your sin, believe the gospel and continually follow Jesus. When I take my doctor's prescription and follow it, I return to health. When we take Jesus' cure for sin we return health and begin to live an abundant and eternal life.
Questions for reflection: