“Follow me.” Mark 2:14-18
Jesus’ invitation to Matthew stirred up a hornet’s nest. Maybe a tax collector could be compared to a crooked politician, or anyone you think of as undesirable, undeserving, or objectionable. And the scribes and Pharisees had plenty of objections to Matthew. How could Jesus choose someone like that to be a follower, much less one of his inner circle?
But Jesus sees the heart. There was something in Matthew’s heart that Jesus would nurture in order to bring out the good that was planted there. The truth is those scribes and Pharisees were also undesirable, undeserving, and objectionable, and they hardened their hearts to his invitations to follow.
Jesus would mentor Matthew, and the other twelve, during those three years of his earthly ministry. He would not call them and then leave them to their own devices. He invested in them, each according to his own abilities and needs, to prepare them for the ministry he had planned for them.
Finally, Jesus endured criticism from religious leaders for working with, or even associating with, “sinners”. However, that criticism did not deter him. The truth is he had no choice. All have sinned and turned away from God.
Aren’t we glad that Jesus does not turn away from the undesirable, the undeserving, or the objectionable? That probably describes most of us at some time or in some way. If we, like Matthew, choose to follow him, we will also be a part of his inner circle. Not only will he see the good in our hearts, he will be the best in our hearts when we invite him to become the Lord of our lives. He will not call us and then leave us. He will nurture us and, if we allow him, he will put us on the path planned for us before we were even born.
Maybe if we sought God’s wisdom about the ungodly people around us, the people that annoy us, and the people we object to, we would do a better job of following our Lord. Perhaps we would join him and seek his wisdom, use his methods to love and lead them as he loves and leads us. That kind partnership will continue to bear fruit for the Kingdom and bring joy to our hearts.