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Follow Me
From Matthew 4 and 9

Drs. Tom and Laura Gross
MillsRiver Family Chiropractic

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen."Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."At once they left their nets and followed him. (NIV)”

I can imagine that Jesus was strolling along beside the Sea of Galilee likening it to a vast sea of men, trapped in a “world of sin”, completely oblivious that there is anything outside the water.Then he sees Peter and Andrew, pulling fish from the sea.He called them “from their own sea” and at once they left their livelihood, their self provision, and followed him. He went on to call James and John in a similar fashion, as he strolled along the sea.Then “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.

(NIV)”After he called disciples and demonstrated compassion in healing he was surrounded by a “sea of people” and he sat down in Matthew 5 and gave the Sermon on the Mount, revealing both the nature of the Kingdom and the subjects of the King.WOW! In the paragraphs which follow, I will point out significant and meaningful threads that run through all these verses and reveal and contrast radical grace with old testament legalism.

The events in Matthew 9:9 through 9:26 or perhaps 9:31 may have happened within the same day, perhaps within a span of 8 to 12 hours or so.Jesus must have quietly…peered deeply into Matthew’s eyes as Matthew sat at a table full of money and accounting records.Matthew was swimming in a deep sea, full of graft and extortion.We do not know that Matthew was guilty of these crimes but they were certainly the hazards of his occupation.Jesus spoke, in the midst of the activities at the booth, two simple words, two powerful words capable of netting deep into the sea of sin and drawing Matthew out.He said “Follow Me”, and Matthew got up and followed Him, leaving the money, records and everything.

Later (perhaps that evening), Jesus and the Disciples ate at Matthew’s house with what was apparently a fairly large group including both Pharisees and Tax Collectors.Matthew’s excitement over the true Messiah led him to invite as many as he could to meet Jesus.When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"On hearing this, Jesus said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 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.” (NKJV)

Jesus used a common proverb from their day explaining that a doctors waiting room is full of sick people because they realize they are sick.Someone who does not realize they are sick will not seek a physician.The physician then spends his time helping the sick (those who know they need healing) get well.Then Jesus used another saying of the teachers own, saying, go and learn what this means, implying they do not know the scriptures and need further study.He went on to quote the prophet Hosea (Hos 6:6) when He said “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

God, through Hosea, was condemning a ritualistic approach to sacrifice performed without deep feeling or an attitude of love for God. The Pharisee hearts were far from God and they were not reaching out to those in need of physical or spiritual healing.Instead they had walled themselves off from “sinners” and considered themselves righteous.Their lack of mercy had rendered their sacrifice and their worship meaningless.

Jesus drove his message home again saying “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (NKJV) This said to reveal to the Pharisees their self-righteousness and lack of repentance and contrast the genuineness of the tax collectors and sinners desire for repentance and their desire to share the good news.

Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. (NIV) It is interesting to note that John the Baptist’s disciples fasted as a sign of mourning sin and preparing for the coming Messiah. Here Jesus is telling them that He is the Messiah and foreshadows his sacrificial atonement.

"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." (NIV)Here, Jesus again suggests that the disciples of John and the Pharisees are behind the times trying to apply old covenant legalism when new testament grace is in order.Furthermore, people called into this new covenant can not be expected to fit into old covenant expectations but that there are a whole new set of expectations characterized by grace and faith, reaching out to the sin sick souls to bring healing, repentance and salvation.

While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, "My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live." And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. (NRSV) This leader of the synagogue expressed faith.Jesus moved in that faith.On his way to heal the young girl “a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” (NIV) A popular belief of that time said that the clothing of a Holy man could bring spiritual power or healing.Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, "Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well." And instantly the woman was made well. (NRSV) Jesus let her know that it was her faith in Him and not her touching his garment that made her well. Similarly in proportion to the Synagogue leader father’s faith, Jesus proceeded to raise the daughter from the dead.

Let’s pull these threads together into a fabric.Jesus is introducing, from early in his ministry, very profound changes in the way people view religion. He boldly reaches in and invites ordinary people to radically exchange their views of themselves and their religious practices.From the very start of his ministry he has revealed himself as Messiah, demonstrated that anyone willing to repent, have faith in and follow him is graciously welcomed regardless of who they are or have been.He outlined the power and necessity of faith and the powerlessness, deceptiveness and emptiness of religious practice without the Love of God.He gave very powerful analogies to the new covenant of grace in contrast to the old covenant of legalism and He foreshadowed his crucifixion and atonement for sin.

A strong thread throughout these passages, and HIS entire ministry, is the grace he extends in his willingness to reach out to anyone.Any preconceptions which prejudice us into thinking someone is more pious than another or more worthy of religious honor is just the kind of thinking Jesus was exposing as hypocrisy.He really looked at everyone with an unmistakable and overwhelmingly inviting love that said, I WANT YOU….to follow me.No matter what you look like. No matter your background. No matter what you smell like.No matter how likely you may seem to succeed or fail, I WANT YOU…to follow me.And He responded more to their repentant heart and their faith, desire and willingness to be forgiven and healed than whether they had the right theology.People of genuine faith will come from surprising places and won’t necessarily look like you expect them to. InMatt 8:11-12 after marveling at the faith of the Centurion Jesus turned to His disciples and said, “ And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. (NKJV)

Another strong thread is in the fact that Jesus always taught radical obedience to the truth, not a ritual.The people who were comfortable in their rituals were not the ones who reached out to Him in need.They were placing some measure of faith in their religious ritual.All too often the ritual quenched the truth and resulted in hypocrisy.It is as if He is asking us to be so familiar with the spirit of the law that we can be flexible enough to receive “new wine.”

Finally, it is imperative to note that although Jesus was not limited to perform only what the people had faith for regarding healing, He chose to allow healing and miracles in proportion to the faith of those involved.

I pray that you can get excited about casting a net into the deep sea of sin and pulling out some plain old anyone for Jesus.I hope you can get inspired to stand up in a mighty measure of faith to believe for creative miracles to the Glory of GOD.I trust we can get a hold of the spirit of truth and minister a deep and genuine love of Christ to a lost and drowning world.