Unlikely Prospects – Week of June 22, 2020

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “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.”

Matthew 9:9-13

Have you noticed that Jesus asked the most “unlikely prospects” to be his followers and helpers? Matthew collected money for the government, and these tax collectors were known to be dishonest. They often collected more money than was required and kept the extra money for themselves. Tax collectors would lie, cheat, and steal from the people and it was considered to be a despicable profession.

How lonely Matthew must have felt! Hated by most people, he must have felt friendless. When Jesus approached him that day and asked Matthew to join his disciples, Matthew probably felt confused, shocked, and then elated! Knowing his sin, Matthew was so relieved to be forgiven by Jesus. Oh, how Matthew must have appreciated the love and forgiveness that Jesus gave!

When people saw or heard that the well-respected Jesus was eating with a tax collector, they were surprised and perhaps repulsed. How could Jesus eat with this despicable person and his friends? But Jesus used this moment to reveal the purpose of his ministry, which was to bring “healing” to sinners. This healing is freely given through repentance and the forgiveness of sins through Jesus himself.

Do you feel like you are unworthy to sit at the table with Jesus? We may not steal from our neighbors, but, like Matthew, we are also “unlikely prospects”. We grumble at routine tasks of service and even try to pass them off to someone else. We try to look better than our co-workers or embellish social media pages that paint ourselves as perfect. Even the good that we do is still tainted with sin.

But how happy we are that Jesus chose a “sinner” like Matthew! Jesus calls us as his own, too!

God wants us to see our sin. He gives us his Word so that we can see our many faults that leave us in need of a Savior. He wants us to see our unworthiness and he wants us to seek Jesus and his forgiveness. And then, upon receiving the gift of forgiveness, we show that we love him by following his commands. How happy we are that God chooses us, the “unlikely prospects” to be his own!

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for choosing me, an “unlikely prospect” to do your work. Help me to serve others with a happy heart., knowing that I am forgiven through your death on the cross. Guide my thoughts, words and actions so that they may be pleasing to you. Amen.

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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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