Reading in Luke 5 about Matthew’s call today.
I don’t know what, if any, personal exposure Matthew would have had to Jesus or his teaching prior to being called. I do know that his response was to leave his job behind and throw a big party in Jesus honor—a celebration attended by a large number of sinners and outcasts.
Jesus seems to have been pleased…at least he attended. It is quite likely that he had a good time. It was a great opportunity to spend time with people who needed him. And there’s no reason to assume he didn’t enjoy their company—rough edges and all.
It made me wonder if I would feel honored by such a gesture. What if I befriended a young lady who hadn’t been treated kindly by life? And what if she wanted to honor me by inviting me over to hang out with her and some of her friends? Would I even go? If I attended, would I be more consumed with love and compassion or disgust and offense if they drank a little too much, used unsavory language, and talked of sexy movie stars and trivial gossip?
I don’t think Jesus just loved people. I think he liked people.
Luke 2:52 (NASB)
52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
In favor with men? People like people who see, value, and appreciate them. Even before he started his public ministry, Jesus was a guy people liked.
Mark 10:21 (NASB)
21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him…
This whole phrase indicates an earnestness of interest and a heartfelt appreciation and affection for this zealous young man who approached him.
Of course Jesus also got angry and frustrated with people when the situation called for it. But I believe he looked at ‘rough’ people and saw the beautiful, valuable, and endearing—and appreciated it. He probably laughed when they were funny, as they surely sometimes were. He probably shook his head in amused and affectionate disapproval when they spoke ignorantly—with far too much confidence. His heart was probably melted by awkward and bumbled attempts to please and honor him.
After all, Jesus is what it looks like when God becomes a man—a REAL man.
I don’t mean to say that he didn’t grieve over people. That’s a big part of why he grieved for them. He was intimately aware of their value, worth, and potential and that they were meant for so much more.
We should grieve too. We should do whatever we can to share the good news about Jesus with the lost. We should diligently teach the word of God and model obedience to it. But we can do those things so much better if we see, appreciate, and love the beauty that is there, inherent in every human soul.