Wednesday after the Festival of the Transfiguration of our Lord
Scripture: St. Matthew 9:9-17 (NKJV)
9:9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.
10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
14 Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?”
15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
16 “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. 17 Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Our Lord’s Words reveal that His work is about humility and mercy, not about empty sacrifice or token gestures.
Matthew was made humble and obedient to Jesus by the working of His Words and His Spirit. Tax collectors were infamous for being self-serving people, but Matthew was moved to real change by Christ. On the other hand, the Pharisees and others were still focused on what they were doing, their own efforts and sacrifices.
True humility and mercy are difficult things for us sinners to accomplish. It is actually impossible for us to do them in true faithfulness to God. Only He can come and do them in us, for us, and through us. Apart from His Word and Spirit accomplishing them in us such efforts are empty “sacrifices.”
True humility from the Spirit of God makes us understand that none of us are “healthy” in a spiritual sense. We are all sinful and unclean. He also makes us understand that our efforts at piety are only meaningful if they are done according to His will, not ours. So, a good reputation or fasting and devotion are only as valuable if they reflect the true mercy that is revealed in Jesus Christ. Either way, our focus should not be on ourselves. He calls us to focus on Him and His cross. He says, “Follow me.”
May He make us truly faithful, and able to follow and sit with Him in the true joy of life in Him!
We pray: Almighty and Everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.