He Saw A Man (Matthew 9:9)
“As Jesus was walking on from there he saw a man named Matthew sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, 'Follow me'. And he got up and followed him.”
‘As Jesus was walking on from there…’ Flashback: He had just come from the house where a paralytic was lowered through the roof. The Pharisees condemned Jesus for forgiving the paralytic’s sins, whereupon Jesus proved the Son of Man has the authority to forgive sins by miraculously healing him.
‘…he saw a man named Matthew’. Jesus beheld a tax collector, a Sinner loathed by all, but saw a Man -whom he had called into existence, whom his Father loves, who is alive by the Breath of his Spirit. Moved by compassion, Jesus called Matthew into his Fold of Friends. Matthew was Forgiven before he was Friend.
Later, while celebrating a meal with his New Friend, Jesus was disparaged for associating with sinners. He replied, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Go learn the meaning or of the words ‘What I want is mercy, not sacrifice.’ And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13)
If it were I in the body and place of Jesus, I would have seen, not Matthew the Man, but a Sinner. I would have seen the Tax Collector, the Extorter of Widows -who leeched upon the poor, who ate the bread of hungry children; who forced fathers to labor late hours to feed his greed. I, who had shared the sins of Matthew, who had been Forgiven and called into The Fold, would have yet still seen the Sin. At best, in my busyness of doing good, I would have judged him ‘not ready’ for The Fold.
But the Truth is, I am in the Body and Place of Jesus. I have answered his call. I am sent to Forgive the sin; to Embrace the sinner -to Befriend all into The Fold. It is for me to say, “My brother, I have sinned and been forgiven -and you can be too! I was sick and have been healed -and you can be too!” It is for me to say, “Hey Matt, take my hand -let us follow Jesus. He’s calling us into The Fold!”
Jesus, I want to love with your Heart, to see with your Eyes. Wrench from my soul all disparaging thoughts, pride and condescension. Shield my eyes from the Problems that I may see the Possibilities. Let not my inclination to judge blind me of Love and Hope.Lord, whoever is touched by your Spirit is made New. When you bring before me one sickened by sin, as I behold the sickness, let me see the Life to be. May your Mercy give me eyes to see The Man you are calling into Being.