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Seeking to equip people to live as Christian disciples wherever God has placed them.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

“When Jesus Sees You”

Mark 2:13-17

Matthew was a despised person in Israel.  He did have friends.  However they were as despised as he was.  Matthew had a profitable business.  He was a tax collector for the Roman oppressors.  On one side Matthew was a Jew.  He probably was able to read and write since that would have been a requirement for his occupation.  He would have known the Old Testament scriptures the same as any Jew living in that time.  On the other hand in the service of Rome he was essentially part of the Roman occupation.  Yet he was not a Roman and certainly he was no more respected by the Romans than he was by the Jews.

It was not only that tax collectors were working for the Romans.  They were free to establish the level of taxation in their district as long as Rome got its due.  Jewish tax collectors were then seen as profiting off the oppression of their fellow Jews.  Is it any wonder they were despised?

When Matthew was in his tax booth he was carrying out his essential duties.  People no doubt had to come to him to pay their taxes.  Yet no one would greet him personally.  It is unlikely that he got a “good morning,” much less a “how are you doing?”  Matthew certainly would have been profiting from his work.  Nonetheless sitting in his tax booth all day had to be lonely work.

Then one day this all changed.  Jesus comes passing by Matthew’s tax booth.  Jesus says “Follow me.”  Jesus doesn’t rebuke or criticize Matthew.  Quite the contrary Jesus calls him to be a disciple.  This had to be more than a little shocking to the crowds, not to mention the other disciples.

Jesus however does not come to condemn (John 3:17).  Jesus’ brief words convey the fact that Jesus has accepted Matthew.  Jesus’ call will transform him.  Matthew is not looking for Jesus.  Jesus is looking for him.

Jesus comes to Matthew’s house to eat with him and his “sinful” friends. The Pharisees, the religious leaders, criticize this.  Jesus is calling sinners not only to repentance but to his service as disciples.  Repentance is possible because Jesus has already shown that he has accepted Matthew and his friends.

Jesus still calls the unrighteous.  He calls us.

Loving and faithful God may I listen for your call.  Knowing that you love me may I freely follow you.  Give me your grace I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen