‘As he went on from there Jesus saw a man named Matthew at his seat in the custom-house, and said to him, “Follow me”; and Matthew rose and followed him.
‘When Jesus was having a meal in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners were seated with him and his disciples. Noticing this, the Pharisees said to his disciples, “Why is it that your teacher eats with tax-collectors and sinners?” Hearing this he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Go and learn what this text means, ‘I require mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.”’ (Matthew 9.9-13 REB)
I note the process in these verses.
- Jesus reaches out to Matthew, a tax collector. In doing this he crosses some powerful barriers. Matthew responds positively.
- The next thing we read is that he’s having a meal with tax collectors and sinners. Is this coincidence, or is Matthew introducing Jesus to his friends?
- Jesus is criticized by the religious establishment for being friendly with the wrong people.
- Jesus gives the theological explanation for what he’s doing: he’s going where the need is greatest. (actually, the Pharisees need him too, they just aren’t willing to admit it).
Some good stuff there!
(Today’s One-Year Bible readings are Genesis 26.17 – 27.46, Matthew 9.1-17, Psalm 10.16-18, and Proverbs 3.9-10)