Matthew’s story intrigues me. When we first meet him, he’s one of the hated tax collectors. He responds to Jesus’ invitation to become a follower, and apparently introduces Jesus to a lot of his friends and colleagues — a social association for which Jesus was criticized. These people were all “scum.” It’s at this point that Jesus says, “That’s who I’m here for. The sick. Those who know they need me.”
As we read Matthew’s Gospel, then, we read knowing that these are the words of an “outsider.” Technically, a Jew. But looked upon as someone who was less than “acceptable.” He was making his wealth by acting as the government’s agent against his own people. When Matthew writes the story of his own calling and Jesus’ response to the critics, the account is very, very personal. He was one of those scum.
I’m sure Matthew’s ears picked up every time Jesus spoke about coming to rescue the outcasts and the sick. That was his own history. And so it is Matthew also who records Jesus’ words that even the Gentiles — all those who were NOT part of God’s chosen people — were going to be included in God’s promises and blessing.
“And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 8:11, Jesus speaking)
Jesus opens the invitation to everyone. No racial, social, cultural, or economic restrictions. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ, declares John the Apostle, has become a child of God. (1 John 5:1)
It’s a new thing, this becoming a child of God. A new identity that puts you in the place of heir to all His promises. We go forward into the unknown and unseen future, over this bridge we can be sure of — we belong to the Father and He has big plans for His children!
Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;
I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.
More promises that you are a child of God:
Deuteronomy 4:20; Matthew 8:11; John 1:10-13; John 11:51-52; Romans 8:14-16; Romans 8:29-30; Galatians 3:26-29; Galatians 4:4-7; Ephesians 1:5-6; Ephesians 2:19-22; Ephesians 3:6; Hebrews 2:10-11; James 1:18; 1 John 3:1-2; 1 John 5:19; Revelation 21:7
© Elaine Starner 2015
Photo credit: Paul Stutzman