Jesus Makes New Friends
Matthew 9:9-13; The Desire of Ages, pp. 272-275
God invites everyone to join His family.
“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13).
Have you ever felt very lonely? As if no one cares about you? And that you don’t have any friends? That was just how Matthew felt until he met Jesus. Then everything changed. It probably happened like this . . .
When the Romans conquered Judea, they demanded that all the Jews pay taxes. No one likes giving money away—especially to an occupying army. Most people were angry about it. Many tried to think of ways to avoid paying the taxes. The Romans hired Jewish people to help collect the taxes. And that’s how Matthew got a job as a tax collector. His job was to make sure that people paid.
Soon many of his old friends stopped speaking to him. The Romans did not really like him either. They treated him like a servant and usually ignored him. All they wanted was their money. Usually, the only people who would talk to him were other tax collectors.
People used to say that all tax collectors were liars, cheats, and thieves. But there were good tax collectors and bad ones. The Romans did not pay them for collecting the taxes. They just assumed that the tax collectors would charge people a bit more. The extra money they collected was theirs to keep. So most tax collectors charged people more than they should.
For some time Matthew had heard about a man called Jesus. Even if people did not talk to him, they talked to each other. And while they were waiting to pay, Matthew listened to them talk. That’s how he learned what was going on in the city.
Jesus sounded amazing. He healed people who had never been able to walk or see. Matthew sometimes saw them running and leaping just for fun. People said that Jesus forgave sins. Matthew wondered about that. He knew he did wrong things. Could Jesus forgive his sins? Would Jesus even want to talk to him?
Then one day something wonderful happened. Jesus was standing in front of Matthew—speaking to him. Jesus said, “Matthew! Come! Follow Me!”
Matthew did not hesitate. He got up, left everything to the other tax collectors, and followed Jesus.
Matthew decided to follow Jesus, to be one of His helpers. He wanted others to know, so he gave a big party for all his friends. He wanted them to meet Jesus too.
The Scribes and Pharisees came to see what was happening. They saw that Jesus was Matthew’s guest. They saw Him eating with the tax collectors. And they were shocked!
“Jesus!” they said. “Why are You eating with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus looked up and smiled. “People who are healthy do not need a doctor,” He said. “Only the sick need a doctor. I have not come to tell the righteous to repent. I have come to help sinners repent.” Jesus’ answer gave everyone hope. No one is to be left out of God’s family. Everyone is welcome to join.
What about you? Have you joined Jesus’ family?