THE GREAT PHYSICIAN & a man most hated

What did other people see? A sinner. What did Jesus see? The man.

Scripture: Pardon of a Publican (tax collector) Matthew 9:9-13 NIV

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."

Tax gatherers were universally hated. They had entered into the service of their country's conquerors. They had certain amounts of taxes to pay but were allowed to keep any and all above those amounts. The list of all the things in that era that were taxed is a very long list. Many cheated people as they became rich. They were barred from worship at the synagogue and considered unclean. They were not allowed to be a witness in any legal case. They were put in a class with robbers and murderers.


He lost his lucrative (although scandalous) job, but found a destiny.

He lost an income, but found honor.

He lost security, but found adventure as few have ever found.

What did he take with him? His pen. What did he write?

The Gospel of Matthew.

Amazing, his call!! Can you picture it? Can you picture yourself getting up immediately from your job and following Jesus? I am sad to confess I did not follow immediately when He called me. I was happy as a nurse and had the personality of a back pew Baptist who sat in the very back pew and occasionally

said 'Amen'! When I had given a 'speech' in a college English course, I had to hold on to the podium we were given just to support myself.

Oh, yes, I was a Christian but if following him meant (Preaching) . . . how did I do that? But the Lord was drawing me closer and closer. He would speak scripture to my ear . . exactly the words I needed every time.

I can tell you why Matthew got up and followed Jesus. He had been waiting on the Messiah and he came to be convinced that the Messiah was indeed Jesus. Why do I say that?

The proof is in the Gospel that he wrote. He was very familiar with the scriptures of the Hebrew people. His quotations from the Old Testament were not only more in number that the other 3 evangelists each, but more than all 3 of Mark, Luke and John added together. He quoted from the law and the prophets as well as other writings. He must have been a 'religious' man. He must have been thinking all the time Jesus was preaching and wondering if He was the one the scriptures foretold. The result is obvious as he got up and followed, leaving that life behind. Then he invited Jesus to his home along with his only friends - fellow tax collectors so that they might meet Him also.

To the end, this was also the time Jesus chose to refer to Himself as a Physician. He declared He had not come for good or holy or right people. He had come to reach sinners, morally sick people. He had come as the Great Physician.

I want to end with a quote from one of my favorite devotional books,

The One Year Book of Quiet Times with God by Jill Briscoe*

For many people, a call to follow Jesus is all they ever hear. They never

hear his Spirit say that it's time to launch out into the deep. One reason

they do not hear is that they make sure they are not listening! Jesus will

not use a megaphone. You will be safe if you stay out of earshot. But if

you stay close to Him, you will be bound to hear the commissioning

call of the Lord.

*July 10.

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