DATE: January 5, 2019
TEXT: Matthew 9:9-13 – ESV --9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
Long ago I heard a story, and it is a story, about a man who was standing outside heaven’s doors.
As he watched, up the narrow path came a procession, singing, waving flags and standards of praise. As they went into heaven, through the gate, the man called to an angel, “Who were those folks?” The angel replied, “They are the prophets who are on their way to see the Lord.”
Hearing that, the man thought to himself, “Well, I’m not a prophet, so I can’t go in like them.”
That thought had just been formed when another, much-smaller white-robed group marched up the path. No, that’s not right. It was closer to “They danced up the path and into the gates of heaven.” The silver bells of heaven pealed and a great shout of welcome was heard by the man who asked an angel “Who were these guys?” The angel replied, “Those? Those are the Lord’s Apostles.”
Knowing he wasn’t an apostle, martyr or prophet the man wondered if any group might have him.
As the man considered the possibilities, a thunderous sound, an earth-shaking-rumble was felt. He turned to see another group, a greater group, a giant throng of souls coming up the path.
Actually, this crowd couldn’t be seen, not completely. That’s because this group poured out over the path and it stretched all the way to the horizon. Songs were sung by many, and although they spoke in different languages, the harmony of what they sang made a perfect blend.
The man turned to speak to the angel, but the angel anticipated his question and remarked: “These, like the others you have seen, are sinners who having confessed their sins and their lostness have been brought to faith in the Savior. They have seen the risen Lord conquer sin, the devil and death and He has brought them here just as He promised.”
Hearing that, the man turned and took a closer look at this rag-tag group. Surprisingly, he could identify some. There was Jesus’ mother and short Zacchaeus and the centurion at Christ’s cross. There was the daughter of Jairus and blind Bartimaeus who seemed to have 20-20 vision.
Along with these there were other, personally familiar faces: his Sunday School teacher; some pastors, his Christian auto-mechanic, his garbage-collector, the paperboy.
Most amazing, all these faces seemed changed, transformed. They appeared to be smiling as if they didn’t have a care in the world. Because of what Jesus had done, past pains and problems, discouragements and disappointments, tears and troubles had been banished from their hearts. These were those who had been forgiven by grace through faith. And that man, like anyone who will be in heaven, said to himself: “I am one of these.”
And as Jesus passed by Him, He nodded to the man and said, “Come.”
Now I cannot speak for the veracity of that story. It is, after all, a story.
But I can, without hesitation, say to you, my brother or sister sinners, that the Savior has come into this world to seek and save us. So we might be forgiven He lived His entire life without failing or fumble; so we might be freed from punishment He was persecuted; so we might live with Him, He died. Now, a risen Lord, a living Lord Jesus comes to you in your sin and says, “By grace you are saved. I am the Gift Your Father gives.”
To you, this day the Savior nods and says, “Come.”
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, for Your life, Your Holy Spirit and the blood-bought invitation to be saved, I am grateful. May others be taught to a positive and powerful of faith. In Jesus’ Name. Amen
The music which introduces and concludes our devotions was written by Guy Baumann, one of my long-ago confirmands. He is singing with three brothers. This song comes from the album: The Baumann Brothers which may be ordered here: http://thebaumannbrothers.com/index.html