“Later, as Jesus and his disciples were eating dinner [at Matthew’s house], there were many notorious swindlers there as guests!
The Pharisees were indignant. ‘Why does your teacher associate with men like that?’
‘Because people who are well don’t need a doctor! It’s the sick people who do!’ was Jesus’ reply” (Matt. 9:10-13, TLB).
Jesus naturally gravitates towards broken people. The enormous love in His heart is like a magnet that pulls Him irresistibly towards them. It’s the same component of His nature that He deposited into mothers – the one that causes an overpowering, visceral emotional reaction within us any time we see our children hurting. Just like that, everything inside of our Savior responds with overwhelming compassion to souls that are cracked and shattered by sin.
That’s why, when we linger in His Word, we will notice story after story like the one above. Jesus keeping company with the outcasts. Jesus dining with the ne’er-do-wells. Jesus defending the rabble and the riffraff. Jesus wanting the unwanted. Jesus loving the unlovables. Jesus touching the untouchables. Everyone that society had marginalized – He eagerly gathered them to Himself.
He wasn’t concerned about contagion, whether physical or spiritual. He knew who He was. He knew that the brilliance of the noonday Sun is surpassingly more powerful than the shadows of the night. No, He wasn’t afraid these shunned individuals would infect or contaminate Him. He knew that when He came into contact with their lives, the opposite would happen. The Light would invade and chase away their darkness. Redemption would radically transform their brokenness into beauty.
This is exactly what happened to Matthew. In fact, he’s the one telling us this story. In the preceding verse, he gives us this introduction:
“Jesus… came upon a tax-collecting station, where a traitorous Jew was busy at his work, collecting taxes for the Romans. His name was Matthew. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said to him. Immediately Matthew jumped up and began to follow Jesus” (Matt. 9:9, tPt).
What kind of intensely welcoming look was in the Lord’s eyes, that compelled this man to leave behind his crooked lifestyle that very second? Matthew instantly knew that he was both fervently loved and stunningly embraced – exactly as he was. He was on the wrong side of the political spectrum and despicable to his fellow countrymen, but Jesus wanted him. That, my friend, is what changed everything.
Today, you and I savor the riches of Matthew’s writing. He authored a book that has impacted billions of lives with a portrait of a Redeemer who loves unconditionally. He shared with us the heart of a Savior that beckons to the rejected and the renegades and brings them home.
At this very moment, there are spiritually sick people at your office… in your classroom… living next door… that desperately need a Doctor. The breathtaking news is that there is no life that He cannot utterly transform. There is no fragmented soul that has slipped so far away as to be out of His reach. There is no illness that the Great Physician cannot cure. He yearns to reach out and heal each and every broken spirit.
Let’s offer ourselves to Him as His instruments. Let’s implore Him to use our lives to continue His mission of seeking and saving the discarded and the despised, today.
Have you ever read the book of Matthew through the lenses of the perspective that it was written by someone who used to be hated and marginalized, but become cherished and mightily used of the Lord?
If not, I would highly encourage you to do so! One of my favorite websites for online study is BibleGateway.com. Check it out and immerse yourself in Matthew’s story today! And as always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!