The way in which Jesus called His disciples has always fascinated me. One of my favorites is that of Matthew (or Levi the tax collector). It is so straight forward and simple. In one verse a life is changed for eternity.
“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.” (Matt 9:9)
In the most obedient fashion, Matthew heard the call, dropped everything and followed Jesus. However, as I was reading on today I was struck by the end of the story.
The Pharisees had been commenting about how bad it was for Jesus to hang out with such a low class of sinners, “But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” (Matt 9:12) But it was still the next verse that caused me to pause. “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt 9:13)
So I did what He said, I went and learned what that statement meant. That was actually a quote from Hosea 6. That is where things became fascinating. Jesus quotes scripture often, but when He does, He is often drawing attention to more than only the quoted text. He is drawing our attention to all the surrounding text as well.
He actually quoted Hosea 6:6, but the whole chapter is a prophecy of His coming. More importantly, about how God’s chosen people would reject Him and remain unrepentant. Despite the fact that we failed, He loved us anyway and provided a solution. That solution was not about rules and sacrifice and all about a steadfast love for Him.
We can sometime become like the Pharisees. We get too tied up with the specifics of how we do a certain thing. It must be this way or that. The truth is that God requires ONE thing. To Love Him fully. By loving Him fully, we will as a result of that love, repent, change our ways, love others, serve others, etc. Those things are NOT to earn His love, they are a result of our love for Him.