Summary: Christ has given us the opportunity to administer a life saving cure to a terminal virus; are we spreading the cure? Either we do or do not.
The Present Situation:
Imagine for a moment that you are a physician; not just any physician but one of the foremost in all of medical history. Through some of your research you stumble upon a previously undiscovered virus. After further study you find out that this virus has infected 100% of the human population. You stand shocked as you realize that every man, woman, baby, and child has been infected by this virus.
Even more disturbing is that you realize that this disease is 100% fatal! Your heart begins to shudder as you realize that even you sit here at this very moment with this disease infested into your body. Family, friends, loved ones-everyone near and dear to you is infected. As you continue to study you realize that the symptoms can be very different from person to person. Sometimes the symptoms are barely recognizable, but nevertheless, although different throughout cultures or locations, the disease is still a killer.
You realize what you must do now. You cannot divulge this information to the world without having some kind of ¡§Good News¡¨ of a cure. So you begin an exhaustive world of research to find one. Finally, after much work you find what you believe to be a cure. Nervously and apprehensively you try the cure on yourself. Eureka! It works!
So you tell yourself that you must pass this information onto the world. You schedule a press conference to tell all of your colleagues about your recent discovery. In all you invite about 150 people, ranging from professors, to colleagues, to even your family and friends. To your amazement, however, when the day comes for the press conference only about 15 people arrive.
Word has somehow gotten out of you and your mystery virus and unfortunately people have begun to belittle you and question your credentials. A virus that has affected 100% of the world¡¦s population doesn¡¦t sound real. Nevertheless, you present your findings to the conference and people even begin to walk out halfway through your talk. It seems as if everyone takes you for a joke.
You leave the conference and return to your hotel room dismayed and saddened for the world that has cast you out. But there is a knock at your door¡Xit is a team of three physicians you previously taught who believe you and ask to receive your cure. They, too , are cured and you have hope. You resolve to spend the rest of your life talking to others and personally trying to spread the cure through yourself and those whom you administer the cure to¡Xperhaps you cannot reach everyone, but you can reach many!
Our Present State:
Does this story remind you of anything? In the Book of Genesis we learn of this sickness that has invaded each and every person to be born upon this earth¡Xits name is sin. In some people we are quick to say that it is very noticeable, but in others it¡¦s so subtle and incognito that we cannot tell. Many people do not even know that they infected with sin, even though they may recognize the symptoms, and know that their conduct is not as it should be. The disease called sin has infected every human being upon this earth regardless of location, sex, or anything, and it claims everyday. If left untreated, sin becomes a terminal illness with the consequences being death and eternal separation from God.
But the Bible presents us with the¡¨Good News¡¨ of a cure¡Xsalvation through Jesus Christ. We accept Christ as our personal Savior, we, in turn, have taken the cure and become physicians responsible for following in the footsteps of the ¡§Great Physician¡¨ and spreading the gospel to all who might receive it. And so, my question is: Are we spreading the cure?
I am an avid Star Wars fan, I must confess. Throughout the series there is a character named Yoda. He is a Jedi master, possessing great skills and experience. In the ¡§Empire Strikes Back¡¨ there is a situation where the trainee, Luke Skywalker must use the force to lift a great spaceship out of the swamp. Yoda looks at Luke and tells him to use his power to lift the space ship from the swamp. Luke looks and says to himself, there is no way this can be done and answers to Yoda in a seemingly unbelieving way, ¡§OK, I¡¦ll try.¡¨ Yoda responds back: ¡§There is no try. Either do or do not.¡¨ I believe this can be applied in the case of spreading the cure. Are we spreading the cure? There is no trying. Either we are doing it or not doing it.
As we look at the Scripture we see that Jesus had entered the town of Capernaum. Capernaum was a key military center for Rome and also a thriving business community as well. The city also had major intersections to cities some hundreds of miles away to the north and south. You might say it was something like the Raleigh Durham area with a major military base thrown in. Levi, whose name is Matthew, the disciple who may have written the Gospel of Matthew, was a tax collector in this city. The IRS had nothing on the tax collectors of that time. The tax collectors had the power to collect taxes from the citizens in Capernaum as well as the travelers who passed through. Tax collectors typically worked from commissions, and in many cases lived very richly due to high commissions they charged to people. Thus, the tax collectors were despised by the Jewish people. The Jews viewed them as being loyal to the Roman government, and many times the taxes would have went to the construction of heathen temples and shrines. As Jesus is walking through town he comes across Matthew, and says ¡§Come on¡¨. So Matthew looks at all his tax records, inventory lists, calculators, and to do list, gets up, and follows Jesus at that instant.