Friday, September 30, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 9:9-13

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." -Matthew 9:9-13

Who is this command spoken to? and what does it require?

You may have noticed that there are two commands in these verses. First, Jesus commands Matthew the tax collector to follow Him. Second, at the response of the Pharisees to Matthew and the other 'sinners' hanging out with Jesus, Jesus commands the Pharisees to go learn what this means: "I desire mercy and not sacrifice."

What truths do we learn through these commands?

Something interesting that I have not noticed in this passage is the power of Matthew's example. He arose and follow Jesus and the next thing we read is that many tax collectors...came and sat down with Him and His disciples. You never know how much influence one step of obedience can have on those around you. I'm sure that these tax collectors knew each other and probably worked together collecting taxes (probably worked together cheating people, too!). When Matthew chose to obey Christ and follow, the others were close behind.

The second thing I notice here is that the religious, self-righteous crowd didn't understand why Jesus was okay with hanging out with tax collectors and sinners. There were a lot of things that Jesus did that were misunderstood by this crowd. But they can't seem to understand why a 'Teacher' would want to be with the social outcasts of society. Perhaps the question they wanted to ask, but were afraid to, is 'Why doesn't the Teacher eat with us--after all, we've done so many good things?' 

Jesus heard that. Think about it--Jesus heard that. He was busy spending time with the sinners, but He heard that. That tells me two things. One, Jesus was paying attention to all that was going on, even if the Pharisees didn't realize it. Two, the Pharisees probably didn't whisper their question to the disciples. They probably didn't care if the tax collectors and sinners heard their biting comments and questions. Jesus has something to say to these critical, religious hypocrites. 

Let's take a look at the second command. Jesus says to the Pharisees, "But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice." The Pharisees missed the point of Jesus. They didn't realize the tremendous work of God that was going on right in front of them. Sinners were being called to repentance, tax collectors are following Jesus, and all the Pharisees can do is criticize Jesus for being with them. It is important to realize that Jesus will always be with sinners and tax collectors. That is why He came. He didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

What are the consequences for disobedience to these commands?

Missing the point of Jesus...entirely

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