Isn’t it odd that Jesus only tells specific individuals to follow Him? The rest follow Him out of wonder, awe and amazement (and perhaps to get some free “stuff”). For all of those He has healed, only a tiny fraction are called by Jesus to follow.
What does this mean? I look at Matthew 7:13-14 to give me the answer – “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Many people followed Jesus around, but few loved Him and gave their lives for Him. The way is narrow and difficult – never take your salvation for granted.
This point if further demonstrated in the next few verses – “Why” the religious leaders asked, “is Jesus hanging out with the poor, needy and criminals? Doesn’t He know they are all sinful and wicked?” Jesus calls the sick and needy to Himself. Those (like the pharisees) who don’t think they are sinful don’t get called. Those who know they are sick know they need a doctor. Those who are hungry know they want food. Those who are sinful know they need to be forgiven and healed. The gate is narrow and the way is hard.
Only those who see their illness and need to be healed will run to Jesus. Do you see your need for Jesus? Does your sin make you want to hide and justify yourself, or bow down at Jesus’ feet and beg for mercy? Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” That means all. That means you and me. So, do you believe you are a sinner and your only hope is Jesus Christ? If so, your life will look radically different than most people’s lives.
Jesus doesn’t want your good deeds, your religiosity, your abilities, your trophies or your accomplishments. In case you didn’t realize this, fishermen, shepherds, prostitutes, lepers, tax collectors and “sinners” were not considered the cream of the cream in Jesus’ time. For anyone else who was wanting to build a “Dream Team” these folks would not be in it. All throughout the Bible, Jesus takes the weakest people and does mighty things through them. 1 Corinthians 1:27 explains why:“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God,righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”’
Failure is the entry ticket, and until you realize that you are not good enough for God’s grace, you don’t get it. Our sins do not keep us from coming to Jesus and healing; our sins are the means by which we are drawn to Jesus for grace. Our sins drive us to Jesus. His greatest business and acts of grace are with the biggest sinners.
Finally, the fact that Jesus is surrounded by these “types” of people should cause us to look at our own lives in another way – Who do I attract? What type of people are drawn to me? Jesus attracted the sick, the hungry, the poor and the needy to Himself. Am I surrounded by clean, healthy, wealthy, religious, middle-class people, or are there poor, sick, needy, broken people in my life?
This really convicts me. There is a staggering lack of poor, sick, needy, broken people in my life. I want to be more like Jesus. I am praying that my heart and life changes so that the weak and needy and sick and hungry and poor would feel accepted, helped and loved by me.
I don’t want to take my salvation for granted. I don’t want to get comfortable. I don’t want to feel full, rich, whole, confident in myself. Jesus calls us to remain humble so that we do not leave the narrow gate and the straight path. Stay dependent upon the Lord, and He will guide your steps.
God bless you all.