As Jesus walked by the GST booth (Galilean Sales Tax ?), he fixed his gaze on one of the employees. This ‘tax collector’ had his last day of work that day and began a journey of faith, following the One who had called him. “Follow Me,” Jesus said to Levi/Matthew, and compelled by God’s Spirit and by His grace, Matthew left behind his illustrious ‘career’ and began to submit to a new ‘calling.’
God has remarkable ways of inviting us to serve Him. Not everyone is brought to a fork-in-the-road, but all are called to “follow.” Growing up in Thornloe, (if you’ve been there….you know where it is—actually it is 500 km due north of Toronto….if you know where Toronto is….shall I continue??), we sang a little chorus, “My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow.” The chorus was not that difficult and repeated ‘singing’ has fastened the text into my memory.
I’ve never found following easy. I’ve had a few occasions where I have strained to keep my eyes on a vehicle ahead as we headed to some unknown destination or at least sought to ‘stay together’ on a road trip. That kind of ‘following’ is simple compared to the will-bending, ‘wholehearted trusting’ that Jesus Christ calls me to each day.
Matthew commenced his following with hospitality. He held a great banquet for Jesus and invited his colleagues. Without Facebook, text messages, or all of the ‘Social Media’ tools, a large crowd gathered. The news went ‘viral,’ and this unnumbered group of ‘tax collectors’ and ‘others’ joined the party.
Crowds draw attention and this one was no different. The religious establishment, namely the Pharisees and ‘law-teachers’ uttered their complaint to Christ’s followers. Perhaps they could generate ‘cyncisim’ and turn away these followers with a few ‘choice’ words.
Their Complaint = My COMFORT. Noone likes dealing with complaints (Well maybe some customer service reps find employment through such means) but criticism is annoying. I’m glad however of this complaint, because it provides great comfort for my heart. “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
What’s the answer? Because JESUS SAVES! Because Jesus the GREAT PHYSICIAN loves to meet and greet ‘sick’ people who are desperate for His cure. Because He, on that occasion and many occasions since, calls NOT the righteous but SINNERS to repentance.
So thanks to the ‘RELIGIOUS’ critics we have insight into the heart of the SAVIOUR of sinners. I’m learning to see beyond the ‘critics’ to the ‘corrective truth’ they often misunderstand. We may make an appointment any time with the Great Physician, THE DOCTOR for sin-sick souls. I feel like singing, “We have heard the JOYFUL SOUND, JESUS SAVES…JESUS SAVES, Spread the tidings all around, JESUS SAVES, JESUS SAVES!!!!!”