In this series of articles we are going to look at several examples of people who were touched by Jesus. What kind of people were they? What was the impact of their coming into contact with Jesus? As we go through this series, we will see that Jesus touched and transformed people from every walk of life. Either they reached out to Him, or He reached out to them, regardless of their station in life; whether rich or poor, young or old, Jesus connected with and cared for them; His loving touch transforming their life for the better.
In Matthew 9 we read the story of a man named Matthew. When Jesus met him he was sitting at his tax collector’s booth. Jesus came by and simply said, ‘Follow me and be my disciple.’ Matthew immediately got up and followed Jesus. Later on Matthew held a dinner party at his home where Jesus, His disciples, other tax collectors, as well as other disreputable characters came. The Pharisees saw this and were not impressed. They asked the disciples of Jesus, ‘Why does your teacher eat with scum?’ Jesus heard what they were saying, and responded by saying, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor; sick people do.’ Then He added, ‘Go and learn the meaning of this scripture, ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come not to those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.’
This is an astonishing incident, and you may be wondering why it is so significant. Historians tell us that tax collectors were one of the most despised people in Israel because they were seen as being collaborators with the oppressive Roman authorities. Furthermore, as a class of people they exploited their fellow citizens. As such they were hated. However, Jesus came and overrode centuries old prejudice and hatred. Not only did He associate with Matthew, He invited him to follow Him and become a disciple. What an amazing offer!
To the religious mind, this is quite frankly, unthinkable. But such is the nature of Jesus. He reaches out to the marginalised, the despised, the hated and outcasts of society. Just as He reached out to Matthew, He reaches out to people in our world today. He came to Matthew and said, ‘Follow me.’ What a bold, simple, direct call. In the same manner He is calling and reaching out to you, regardless of your background, or how hated, isolated or marginalised you are. You too can reach out to Him, and He will accept you.
Copyright Emmanuel Mbakwe 2013©
If you have read this article and you are not a Christian, I would like to invite you to receive Christ as Saviour and Lord in your life by praying this simple prayer:
‘God in heaven, I acknowledge that I am sinner and deserve to be punished for all the wrongs I have done. I am truly sorry. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to this world. I believe He lived, died and rose again for my sins. I repent of all past sins and ask you to forgive me because Jesus. I confess and ask Jesus to come into my life and be my Saviour and Lord. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me to obey you and lead me to follow you all the days of my life. Thank you God for giving me eternal life through your Son Jesus. Amen!’