This article is part of Brother Jerry Valenti’s series on the original 12 Apostles of Christ.
The photo that accompanies this blog is from the classic movie, “The Muppet Christmas Carol.” In this particular scene, The Ghost of Christmas Present brings Ebenezer Scrooge to the poor part of town where Bob Cratchit lives. Scrooge asks, “Why have we come to this part of town?” The ghost replies, “It’s Christmas here too, you know.”
The point of the above scene is to illustrate that people like Scrooge, who live in a good place, may find it easy to forget that Christmas is for everyone, regardless of their status in life. If you’ve seen any of the hundreds of adaptations of “A Christmas Carol,” then you know that Scrooge eventually discovers that sharing what he has with others — including those he previously would not even associate with — brings greater joy than just keeping it all to himself.
We who are followers of Jesus Christ would do well to remember that not only Christmas, but also Christ Himself is for everyone, regardless of their status in life. Our tendency might be to gravitate toward people who are like us or who we enjoy being around. If we really want to do the work of the Lord, we can’t limit ourselves in that way.
- Do you know people who are poor and always looking for money? They need Christ.
- Do you know people who are obnoxious or otherwise socially challenged? They need Christ.
- Do you know people who are living ungodly lives? Perhaps they are even champions of sinful causes? They especially need Christ!
Before meeting Jesus, the Apostle Matthew earned his living as a publican (a tax collector). Unlike today, the tax collectors were not regulated by the government, so they were free to charge the people more than what they were supposed to pay and then just keep the extra for themselves. Thus, the publicans of the time were viewed as dishonest criminals, getting wealthy by robbing tax money (or custom) from the citizens of the town. Matthew was not the type of man that you or I would probably have been friends with. Yet, he needed Christ!
“And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9)
After deciding to follow Christ, Matthew invited Jesus and some of the other disciples to his house for dinner. However, he also invited some of his publican friends to the house too — “behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples” (verse 10).
Some of the Pharisees — always quick to try to criticize Jesus — saw what was happening and “they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” (verse 11) Kind of like Scrooge saying, “Why have we come to this part of town?”
“But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (verse 12). Yes, these are dishonest, sinful people. Yes, they are not the kind of people we would normally hang around with. But who is more in need of salvation than people such as these? They need Christ, too. It’s Christmas here too, you know.
Whether at Christmastime or any other time of the year, let’s be the rare people who are willing to show the love of Christ to all people — including sinful people, including people who may be generally unlikable, even including people who don’t agree with us on the issues of the day. You never know — you might be used to help convert the next Apostle Matthew.
And one last thing. With Christmas just a few days away, let’s not let the Scrooges of the world (including the Covid pandemic) rob us of the joy that is generally associated with this time of year. The birth of Christ is just as meaningful to us as it was a year ago. We still have loved ones to appreciate in our lives. We are still part of The Church of Jesus Christ and the family of God. Even as we find ourselves where we are in the Covid-infected year of 2020, remember: It’s Christmas here too, you know. Merry Christmas!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.