Jesus had gained an enormous following after He taught and healed several people. Just yesterday we were walking, and He was brought to a man who had been paralyzed his whole life. You know, you never get used to the things Jesus does!
I was certain Jesus would heal this guy, but first thing He does is forgive all the sins of this paralyzed guy. Oh man! Let me tell you; the church people were so pissed. I mean, I am a church person, but I wasn't so frustrated as much as I was very intrigued by the whole thing. It was then Jesus told a paralyzed man to just get up.
And he did!
We were all pretty amazed. You sort of have to be amazed when you witness first hand the work of Jesus.
As we kept walking, there was an awestruck murmur in the crowd, and we kept following Jesus. What enormous miracle would He do next? Well let me tell you! It may not seem like a miracle to you, but allow me to assure you it was!
Jesus saw this man, Matthew, which is important to know because none of us saw Matthew. We did our best to avoid and ignore him. You know when you walk through the mall and try to avoid the person selling a product from the kiosks? This is why we didn't "see" Matthew.
But Jesus saw him. He approached Matthew and said, "Follow me!" I laughed...quietly enough for only those around me to hear and raise their eyebrows in surprise. We were believers, and if I might say so, we are damn good people. This Matthew? He was not! He was a swindler, and we all knew it. We wondered if Jesus actually knew the type of person He just told to follow Him.
But this is not the miracle.
We and Matthew followed Jesus to Matthew's house. We crowded outside trying to see and hear what Jesus was up to in there, but if I am honest with you, I wanted to make sure Matthew didn't manipulate Jesus like he had done to everyone else. It's funny how often I thought Jesus needed my help because He was clearly naive to who those people really are. He needed me to keep Him and His reputation safe, you know?
It wasn't long before Matthew's whole crew of degenerates arrived. They were all eating and drinking with Jesus. They were listening to Him, and He listened to them. It seemed everyone's reputation changed around that table.
You might have missed the miracle! I certainly did.
Every encounter with Jesus affects your and His reputation. Jesus went from 'great teacher and healer' to 'a man who spends time with the dregs of society that we avoid and ignore' (its a long made up name, I know). Matthew and his crew went from 'disgusting degenerates and manipulators' to 'friends of Jesus' in one momentary encounter.
Jesus heard our bickering and not so hushed criticism, and He said He desires compassion and not sacrifice.
Following Jesus now involved my own reputation. If I was unwilling to invite outsiders into my life, I was unwilling to follow Jesus. After the fun of being an insider now subsided I had to decide whether I really wanted to risk my reputation to be a follower of Jesus.
I can tell you it was worth it,
it is always worth it.