Week of Monday, June 21 – Sunday, June 27
Bridge Too Far? – Man as a Battle Buddy

“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. And as Jesus reclined at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” — Matthew 9:9-12 ESV

One of my favorite war movies is A Bridge Too Far with its all-star cast. After the D-Day invasion during World War II, our Allied forces got bogged down but came up with a bold plan. A combined British and American paratrooper force dropped behind enemy lines and attempted to take a strategic bridge on the border between the Netherlands and Germany so that British ground troops could press on into enemy territory. But the Allies soon learned that they overreached. It was literally “a bridge too far.”

No doubt when Jesus called Matthew, a hated tax collector, to be one of His disciples, and then later chose him as one His twelve “battle buddies,” the religious leaders felt like such a move was “a bridge too far.” You can almost hear them saying: “This guy is a high-handed sinner, a treasonous collaborator with our Roman overlords. You should have nothing to do with him.” On top of that, going to Matthew‘s house and sitting around the table with the kind of people he associated with was definitely “a bridge too far” spiritually speaking, in their view. These people were considered the worst of the worst. They were hated outcasts.

Consequently, Jesus’ social circle made absolutely no sense to the religious leaders. They thought any decent Torah-following Jewish teacher should work harder at getting in with their holy huddle. But Jesus made it clear—He came for the outsiders because they were the ones who actually acknowledged their spiritual need. Jesus intentionally sought relationships with sinners to show them mercy and offer them a better path—following Him and pursuing His kingdom and its truly righteous lifestyle. That’s why Jesus broadened His circle of influence beyond the pious people and religious activities that could be found in and around the Temple in Jerusalem and the local synagogue.

As followers of Jesus, we’re called to build bridges that connect people to real relationships with Jesus. It might feel a little out of your comfort zone at first, but we still build those bridges because without them people remain separated from God forever. If we are to live out the true calling we have as a battle buddy, then we must be intentional about our relationships with other men. Being a battle buddy isn’t always about choosing a deep friendship with a guy most like you. In fact, sometimes the path is to pick a guy to mentor who is not much like you at all.
The challenge of these verses is that we must intentionally look beyond the men with whom we feel the most comfortable to those who most need the mercy and forgiveness of Christ. We must build bridges that lead people to Jesus and then help them become like Matthew—an “all in” follower of Christ. If God’s grace through Jesus Christ could reach a guy like Matthew, it can reach anyone. Do not shy away from people who may just be one of those who is looking for truth in his life or has come to a crossroad in his life and just needs a little help in taking the right path. At the end of the day, no one should be considered as “a bridge too far.”

  • What did Jesus see in Matthew the tax collector that He did not see in the Pharisees?
  • Read Matthew 10:2-4 and notice the descriptors Matthew used. With Jesus’ mission in mind, name men who may or may not be Christians that you can intentionally choose to build a bridge to in the days ahead. Who knows, one of those guys may end up as your battle buddy.
  • Thank the Lord for building bridges with all people, not just those whom society thinks fit a certain acceptable mold. Ask God to help you see people the way He sees them and for the courage to broaden your circle of influence to those who are not at all like you.