Why Jesus Invites The Most Unlikely People

Jesus often chooses the most unlikely people to follow Him. These people are most aware of their need for Him and become loyal followers.

Why Jesus Invites The Most Unlikely People

May 29, 2024

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.—Matthew 9:9 (NIV)

Incredulous, my friend shook her head. “I just can’t believe your family doesn’t go to church.” 

“Oh, I don’t mind,” I replied, “This way I can sleep in on Sunday mornings.” At this my friend’s mouth dropped open and she threw out my death sentence, “Shirley, you will never make it to Heaven!” Shrugging, I changed the subject. “Poor misguided soul,” I thought, “she believes in Heaven.”

That conversation happened over forty years ago. No doubt my friend never imagined I would become a Christian. Not because I lived such an immoral life, but because I did not believe in the existence of God. Years later, when I seriously studied the Bible for myself, I noticed Jesus often invited the most unlikely people to follow Him. 

We see an example of this in the gospel of Matthew:

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. (Matthew 9:9 NIV)

All of Jesus’ disciples were unlikely choices because they weren’t religious leaders. But Matthew differs from the others because he was a tax collector ~ a sinner and traitor in the eyes of his fellow Jews. Not only did tax collectors work for the hated Roman empire, but they also demanded more than the required tax, pocketed the difference, and grew rich as a result. Their actions alienated them from the Jewish community. When Matthew decided to follow Jesus, he would no longer be welcomed by his former business associates. Unlike the other disciples, Matthew could never return to his former profession. 

Perhaps this is why he threw a big banquet in Jesus’ honor where he invited all of his friends and colleagues (Matthew 9:10). Matthew wanted to introduce his friends to Jesus before they withdrew from him. The people attending the banquet  ~ tax collectors and sinners ~ were notorious for their moral transgressions. Just being in their presence could taint a person’s reputation. This prompted the Pharisees to criticize Jesus ~ they couldn’t understand why He would associate with such unlikely people (Matthew 9:11). 

Jesus responded with the familiar words, “‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick’” (Matthew 9:12 NIV). So often those who seem the most unlikely to respond to Jesus are actually the most aware of their need for Him. And because of this, they have the potential to be His most loyal followers.

This is certainly true of Matthew. According to early church tradition, he authored the gospel which bears his name. As the first one written, Matthew’s gospel addressed Jewish readers with the goal of proving Jesus as the Messianic King. With its many Old Testament references, it creates a bridge between the Old and New Testaments and continues to minister to our hearts today. Early church tradition states Matthew died as a martyr while preaching the gospel in Ethiopia.

When I think of Matthew, or even myself, I understand how easy it is to write people off because of their behavior or opinions. But Jesus reminds me to invite all people to hear the gospel. His most loyal followers might just come from the least likely people.

Thank You Lord Jesus for showing us to invite the least likely people to hear Your gospel. Often these people can be intimidating because of their behavior or opinions. But they can also be the ones who know they need You. Help us be Your ambassadors in this world and to trust You in the process. We pray this in Your name. Amen.

Why Jesus Invites The Most Unlikely People

May 29, 2024

Jesus often chooses the most unlikely people to follow Him. These people are most aware of their need for Him and become loyal followers.

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.—Matthew 9:9 (NIV)

Incredulous, my friend shook her head. “I just can’t believe your family doesn’t go to church.” 

“Oh, I don’t mind,” I replied, “This way I can sleep in on Sunday mornings.” At this my friend’s mouth dropped open and she threw out my death sentence, “Shirley, you will never make it to Heaven!” Shrugging, I changed the subject. “Poor misguided soul,” I thought, “she believes in Heaven.”

That conversation happened over forty years ago. No doubt my friend never imagined I would become a Christian. Not because I lived such an immoral life, but because I did not believe in the existence of God. Years later, when I seriously studied the Bible for myself, I noticed Jesus often invited the most unlikely people to follow Him. 

We see an example of this in the gospel of Matthew:

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. (Matthew 9:9 NIV)

All of Jesus’ disciples were unlikely choices because they weren’t religious leaders. But Matthew differs from the others because he was a tax collector ~ a sinner and traitor in the eyes of his fellow Jews. Not only did tax collectors work for the hated Roman empire, but they also demanded more than the required tax, pocketed the difference, and grew rich as a result. Their actions alienated them from the Jewish community. When Matthew decided to follow Jesus, he would no longer be welcomed by his former business associates. Unlike the other disciples, Matthew could never return to his former profession. 

Perhaps this is why he threw a big banquet in Jesus’ honor where he invited all of his friends and colleagues (Matthew 9:10). Matthew wanted to introduce his friends to Jesus before they withdrew from him. The people attending the banquet  ~ tax collectors and sinners ~ were notorious for their moral transgressions. Just being in their presence could taint a person’s reputation. This prompted the Pharisees to criticize Jesus ~ they couldn’t understand why He would associate with such unlikely people (Matthew 9:11). 

Jesus responded with the familiar words, “‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick’” (Matthew 9:12 NIV). So often those who seem the most unlikely to respond to Jesus are actually the most aware of their need for Him. And because of this, they have the potential to be His most loyal followers.

This is certainly true of Matthew. According to early church tradition, he authored the gospel which bears his name. As the first one written, Matthew’s gospel addressed Jewish readers with the goal of proving Jesus as the Messianic King. With its many Old Testament references, it creates a bridge between the Old and New Testaments and continues to minister to our hearts today. Early church tradition states Matthew died as a martyr while preaching the gospel in Ethiopia.

When I think of Matthew, or even myself, I understand how easy it is to write people off because of their behavior or opinions. But Jesus reminds me to invite all people to hear the gospel. His most loyal followers might just come from the least likely people.

Thank You Lord Jesus for showing us to invite the least likely people to hear Your gospel. Often these people can be intimidating because of their behavior or opinions. But they can also be the ones who know they need You. Help us be Your ambassadors in this world and to trust You in the process. We pray this in Your name. Amen.

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2 Comments

  1. Teresa on June 1, 2024 at 12:01 PM

    AMEN!!! I really enjoyed your blog, it makes you realize how important we are to God. We all come from different places, different family dynamics, and different nationalities wanting to belong to something or someone. I am so glad that I belong to Jesus because He knows me and still loves me as I am.

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on June 4, 2024 at 8:20 PM

      Amen! Thank you,Teresa, for sharing your insight! 💕

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