Summary: In this message from Matthew 9:9-17, Jesus calls Matthew the tax collector to follow him. Matthew throws a party for his sinner friends and invites Jesus and his disciples to it
They were like doctors who won’t go near a sick person because they are afraid they might catch the disease.
Religious people today can fall into the same trap if we focus so much on keeping the church pure that we end up looking down on the very ones we should lift up.
Some churches work hard to keep the “riff-raff” out --- while God’s whole desire is to reach out to the “riff-raff” so He can save them … from their “riff-raff-dom.”
Speaking of riff-raff, I love this quote by author and former alcoholic Augusten Burroughs who said, concerning himself, “I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”
The emphasis of the Religious Leaders was making yourself acceptable by strict adherence to the LAW. Jesus presented an entirely NEW paradigm.
In this New Covenant, God extended GRACE to even the worst of sinners.
The greater the sin, the greater the application of GRACE.
Matthew knew what it meant to have a completely NEW life because of Jesus. I think it’s significant that the first teachings this new follower records tell us that Jesus came to earth to make all things new!
Matthew records three word pictures that illustrate this truth: a WEDDING, new CLOTHING, and new WINESKINS.
1. A Wedding
Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" Matthew 9:14
It’s doubtful that the disciples of John the Baptist attended Matthew’s party. John was an ascetic --- he and his disciples lived out in the wilderness. They lived a harsh life, dedicated to fasting and prayer, and they probably avoided parties altogether. And this was a rough time for these men because their leader was in jail … and we know from history that John would soon be beheaded by Herod. It was only natural for them to be sad and confused … and maybe even jealous of Jesus’ successful ministry.
Jesus answered them this way: "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.” Matthew 9:15
This answer reminded these men of what John himself had said about Jesus: The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:29-30 The answer reassured them that Jesus WAS the ONE John had prophecied about.
Jesus knew his answer would comfort these friends of John. But his reference to a Wedding also reinforces the theme that Jesus came to make all things new. A wedding represents a new relationship. And that’s what Jesus came to give us.
In a wedding, both the bridegroom and the bride CHOOSE each other. They make promises to each other, and they begin a new relationship that is entirely built on mutual love.
That’s the way it is in our NEW life with Jesus. He has already CHOSEN you. He has made His eternal Vows to you.