Saturday, June 08, 2024

2024.06.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 9:9–13

Read Matthew 9:9–13

Questions from the Scripture text: From where was Jesus going (Matthew 9:9, cf. Matthew 9:1-8)? Whom did He see? Doing what? What did Jesus say to him? What did Matthew do? How does the beginning of Matthew 9:10 change the time/scene? What was Jesus doing? Who came to Him? What quantity? What did they do? Who saw it (Matthew 9:11)? To whom did they speak? What did they ask? Who heard it (Matthew 9:12)? About whom does He speak? What do these well people not need? Who do need a physician? What does He tell them to do (Matthew 9:13)? What, especially, does He tell them to study (cf. Hosea 6:6)? Whom did He not come to call? Whom did He come to call? To what did He come to call them?

Whom does Jesus call? Matthew 9:9–13 prepares us for the morning sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Jesus calls sinners to repentance.

Christ’s priority upon forgiving and power to give it by His WordMatthew 9:9. Putting the timeline of Christ’s ministry together from all the gospels, it is likely that Matthew 9:2-9 are actually from an earlier time, but are included here because it is upon returning from the Gentile side of the lake that Matthew gives the feast for Christ in his house (cf. Mark 2:15, Luke 5:29). All three “synoptic” gospels connect the call of Matthew to the feast with the other tax collectors and sins, and it is evident that Matthew had been called as Jesus was passing on from forgiving the paralytic. What a blessed portrait of our Lord—going from forgiving to forgiving!

In Matthew’s call (Matthew 9:9), we behold in one short verse the gracious power of our Lord’s words. Would a tax collector give up even his lucrative employment to follow One Who has nowhere to lay his head? Will one whose associates are other tax collectors—almost certainly skimmers and cheats, even if Matthew was not—as well as other notorious sinners… will this one now attach himself to the One Whose very presence forbids all sin? But Christ’s two words have in them the power to give life and faith and repentance. 

We can look to Him for the same for ourselves. When we do not have in us the ability to believe or repent, let us come to His Word, and let us ask that He, by His Spirit, would use His Word similarly with us. Surely, He created by His Word, He upholds all things by His Word, He gives faith by His Word, and He sanctifies by His Word. The leopard cannot change his spots, but Christ by His Word changes sinners in divine power!

How experience of Christ’s grace to us produces expectation of His grace to othersMatthew 9:10. It is presumably from his own experience of this that Matthew is bold to invite “many tax collectors and sinners” to follow Jesus and eat with Him and His disciples (verse 10). Those who have genuinely experienced grace are better able to understand Christ’s extending it to others. If you tend to have the Pharisees’ response to one whose reputation was one way, but who has come to follow and fellowship with Jesus, then you might ask yourself whether you have genuinely experienced grace. And you ought to ask Christ that He would increase your experience of His grace. Indeed, go ahead and ask Him for it anyway!

No one is good enough company for Jesus, except by the grace of JesusMatthew 9:11. It is interesting that the Pharisees ask the disciples (verse 11). It is almost a tacit admission that they are really accusing Jesus of something, but are either too cowardly to ask Him directly or are trying to be “polite.” In either case, the question does imply that they just don’t understand Christ. Indeed, the question by itself demonstrates that they don’t understand themselves, either. Why does Jesus eat with sinners? Because that is the only sort of other person there is to eat with on the earth! Did the Pharisees think that they were not sinners? Surely they meant “why doesn’t Jesus keep better company?” But, again, this means that they have failed to grasp Who Jesus is. Better company? No one on earth is good company for Jesus! 

The healing and forgiveness that we all need—and that only Jesus can giveMatthew 9:12-13. But that is why Jesus has come. To take those who are unworthy to eat with Him, and make them joint heirs with Him of His kingdom! We need both justification and sanctification, forgiveness and cleansing. We are too sick (dead!) with sin to be able to repent. And we are too guilty of sin to be permitted to repent. Jesus did not come for those who were most able to be saved, or nearest to being saved, because there are no such people as either of those things. Rather, He came precisely because we are not able.

We must be careful not to be too superficial with the quote in Matthew 9:13. Jesus Himself tells the Pharisees to go and study. He is saying more than just that their religion is worthless because they’re not merciful enough to the tax collectors. 

When the Pharisees go back and study Hosea 6:6, they should find that it is in the context of the people finally (!) repenting in. That was a longtime coming in the context of that book, and Hosea 6:1–3 is full of right words and sentiments. But immediately, the Lord’s response in Hosea 6:4 is that their repentance as the substance and staying power of a morning mist that burns off almost immediately. That is why He desires covenanted love (ḳessed, NKJ “mercy”) rather than sacrifice. Only the one whose nature has been changed by the Lord to correspond to that of the Lord Himself will be acceptable. In Hosea, it will be another five chapters before the Lord Himself becomes the solution (cf. Hosea 11:8–11) to those whose “repentances” just won’t stick (cf. Hosea 11:7). 

Back to our passage, we see Jesus’s point. There are no righteous to call. And those who are called are not called because of what they were; they are called to repentance, to have the very nature of their mind changed. This is the only way that it can be. Jesus saves only sinners, and only and entirely by grace!

If you are following Christ, how did you come to do so? If not, how can you? Whom have you not invited to follow Jesus because you did not expect that they could/would? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, we know that our religion is worth nothing, unless You have changed us from the inside out, entirely by Your power—and forgiven us, entirely by Christ’s work. Grant that we would more poignantly experience Your grace, and that we would act as those who expect that others will as well, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH130A “LORD, from the Depths to You I Cry!”

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