Something special happens when Jesus calls sinners to repentance. I remember the day I was drawn to the Lord…I was fifteen-years-old and I went to a local church Myles Monroe was speaking. That night, the presence of God was there and that was the beginning stage when God was calling me to Himself.
Two thousand years ago, the religious elite argued against Jesus’ welcoming of tax collectors and sinners:
“As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.
Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
To better understand the resentment from the Pharisees we must look at many of the unfair ill-use done by the hands of tax collectors. For one, some tax collectors in the region were Jews and in the eyes of the community it was a horrible thing to work on behalf of the local monarchy and Roman Empire. Another horrible truth is many tax collectors gathered more funds than needed. Other sinners consisted of prostitutes and extortionists.
Though the actions of local tax collectors and others were wrong, the Pharisees were far from perfect…Claiming that Jesus “…casts out demons by the ruler of the demons (verse 34).” The Pharisees were so tuned into tradition and legalism they missed a wonderful opportunity in being acquainted with the Messiah. Jealousy is just as sinful as stealing from innocent people.
Today, many are guilty of judging others by their actions and outer appearance. When a person becomes so religious and legalistic to the point they refuse to gather up souls from the north, south, east and west of the world, they are no good for the kingdom. Always remember where Jesus first picked you up and how He transformed your life.
If Jesus can change you and Matthew the tax collector, He can definitely change anyone willing to be changed!