June 6, 2021


June 06, 2021

Pastor Jonathan Falwell


Sometimes, for any number of reasons, we may be uneasy in a group made up of those outside our comfort zone. Will you share an experience that comes to mind and tell what happened?

This week we entered the New Testament era as we began the book of Matthew. We are now on the home stretch of reading the entire Bible during the first six months of 2021. The Jewish nation lived four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments, but God—though silent to the Jews—was working to bring about the fulfillment of the prophecies that would herald the coming Messiah. As the book of Matthew opens, the genealogy of Jesus Christ is given, followed by His birth, preparation for, and the beginning of, His ministry and teaching on earth. Join us as we learn important lessons from Matthew, chapter 9.

Focal Passage: The Book of Matthew

            God wants to use all of us

  • Read Matthew 9:9. What were typically some of the unfavorable words used to describe most tax collectors? If you were a Jewish tax collector, and therefore a traitor to your nation, where would you most likely have found friends?
  • What do you think Jesus saw as He looked at Matthew and told him to follow Him? What do you think Matthew saw that caused him to leave his job and follow Jesus?
  • What may have been going through the minds of the disciples as they realized Jesus had just invited a tax collector to join their intimate group?
  • What lesson can we learn when Jesus called a man who was an outcast in society to follow and be used by Him? Can a person get too far away for God to use?

God cares about all of us

  • Read Matt. 9:10. What was the significance of Jesus reclining at the table in Matthew’s house? How comfortable would you be in a large gathering of those who are completely outside your comfort zone?
  • Why do you think Matthew wanted his friends to meet Jesus, and Jesus to meet his friends?
  • What does it take to have the kind of passion to see your friends and family have the opportunity to meet Jesus Christ?
  • How do Matthew’s actions line up with your efforts to evangelize your circle of influence?

God wants to reach more of us

  • Read Matt. 9:11. Although Jesus is in the early months of His ministry, what opinions had the Pharisees already formed? Why were they criticizing Him for eating with those with whom they themselves would not mingle?
  • How did He respond? Read 2 Peter 3:9. How far away from God were you when He saved you? Did you take your own path at some point since then, and return?
  • Read Ezekiel 33:11 and Matthew 9:36. Why will the churches never be full enough to satisfy Jesus? Do you love people that much?

 God expects more from us

  • Read Matt. 9:12-13. Jesus had to rebuke the Pharisees for their attitude. How do you think this was received? What were some of the statements made about their character that you can recall from Scripture?
  • What did Jesus mean, God desires “mercy and not sacrifice”?
  • What more does God expect that we Christians do, besides ‘business as usual’?
  • What are some of the character flaws that we must guard against, so that we don’t unconsciously become like the Pharisees?
  • Why is it so much more important to point people to Christ, rather than telling them they do not deserve to be near Him?


It is extremely easy to read through these chapters in Matthew, letting the familiar words wash over us, but miss the lessons to be learned. Had you been one of those whom Jesus called to follow Him, you might have been with some of your friends, perhaps even with those whose vocation was the same as your own. They were all no doubt forming a bond with each other and with Jesus. There may have been some curiosity as they grew in their relationship with Him, but there was probably also a thrill of being with someone so special.

Until Matthew. Can you imagine being in a group today of a similar type, when suddenly the one in charge calls to someone who is abhorred by your nation, working for another government, overtly cheating hard-working citizens, and saying, “Come, follow Me!” Then perhaps asking you to make him welcome? We would say, “Jesus—seriously? Really??” Do you think they perhaps grumbled that night? Yet they went with Jesus the next day to a feast at Matthew’s house.

It is much easier to read God’s word than to carry it out, isn’t it? In our case, we might need to show love to someone who has committed sins so vile our family never spoke of them; or someone whose political views are so removed from ours that we feel it might gag us to be nice; or someone from the other end of the financial spectrum who wants to date our daughter…and on and on. But Jesus gave us a responsibility when He returned to heaven that we would be the caretakers of His ministry, loving those who are around us and seeing that they are introduced to Christ. That’s our duty, and we will answer to Him as to whether we were faithful to Him who called us. Remember that to love God is to love people. It is like a coin, each side being a total of who we are. Or should be. May we never forget that.