You may know Matthew by his original name…Levi, a turncoat tax collector who Jesus called in Capernaum. He was chosen by Jesus as one of the Twelve disciples…and given a new life along with a new name. But in this Scripture we find Jesus at Matthew’s house having a meal with all these “sinners” much to the disgust of the religious leaders who incredulously asked His disciples how Jesus could do this. Knowing their thoughts and their hearts, Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6 when He replied to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” In other words, our mission as Christians is to share the Gospel Message with sinners…people who may look and act very differently from us, but still need to hear that they can be healed and forgiven of their sins.
To paraphrase Isaiah 8:12-13, Do not follow the ways of the world…do not accept the world’s viewpoint…do not fear what they fear. For their fear is based on the temporal…of secular and fleshly concerns only. But as Believers, we have the blessed assurance of eternal life, so there is no fear of death its self. For it tells us in I Corinthians 15:42-44, ” So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” The world may kill our physical body, but it can’t take our soul. For only Satan has the power to devastate both body and soul in the place of the lost and condemned.
Jesus was implying that He was a sojourner here on earth. A stranger in a strange place only temporarily. That’s what it means to be in the world but not of it. (John 17:14) And as Believers, we too are sojourners in this foreign land…aliens and strangers just passing through…as we head to our heavenly home.
Initially, no one may have known Jesus was in town. But people sensed something different happening…there was an awareness and feeling of hope and anticipation in the air…and they came searching for the source. For the presence of Jesus could not be hidden. Just as the indwelling Holy Spirit can not be hidden in us…it must be allowed to shine forth. As it tells us in Matthew 5:14-16, ” You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Allow that light from within you to shine like a beacon for the lost and searching world.
Giving…whether it be money, time or talents is a real stumbling block for many Christians. We tend to be a selfish, self-centered people…when the Lord wants us to be generous. We want to be recognized and honored for anything we do…when the Lord requires discretion. (Matthew 6:1-4) We give the Lord left-overs…rather than, like the poor widow, giving all we have.
Maybe this has happened to you – You’re with a group of friends and the discussion takes a very uncomfortable twist against what you believe as a Christian. You know you should say something…but you don’t out of fear or awkwardness. Then you spend the rest of the night kicking yourself for being such a coward. It’s not that you blatantly denied or rejected Jesus in public…but in a way, you did. Speaking out about the fact and truth of the Gospel is hard, and rejection by some is inevitable…but that shouldn’t silence us from speaking out about what we believe in.
It says Jesus touched her and she recovered. It was through that gentle touch, Jesus spoke volumes…He voiced love and concern for her…and He spoke health and healing into her body. And it was out of a grateful heart, the woman got up and served Jesus and the rest of the men. Now, you may have never been raised up out of a death-bed before, but the same grateful heart this woman had should be yours. Why you ask? In Romans 5:8 it tells us, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So in a way you’ve also been raised up from a death-bed…for you were once dead in your sins. But through God’s great love for you, a way was made. And Jesus touched you and made you whole…so how can you be anything but grateful?