I am just a girl who loves Jesus Christ more than I could ever express in words. I am the wife to my husband of twenty-one years and a mommy to six precious children. This blog reveals the presence of God in the midst of my life story.
9 "As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him."
Jesus saw Matthew while he was working. Matthew was a tax collector. The commentary in my Bible says tax collectors were, "Traditionally known as 'publicans,' these were local men employed by Roman tax contractors to collect taxes for them. Because they worked for Rome and often demanded unreasonable payments, the tax collectors gained a bad reputation and were generally hated and considered traitors." (Matthew 5:46) Matthew was sitting in the tax collector's 'booth.' The commentary says, "The tax collector's booth where Jesus found Lei was probably toll booth on a the major international road that went from Damascus through Capernaum to the Mediterranean coast and to Egypt." (Mark 2:14) When I think of a 'toll booth' I remember my days in New York City. The toll booths are set at the bridges as you try and attempt to leave. As you approach a toll booth all you would see where lines and lines of cars stuck in the traffic for having to stop and pay to leave. It was miserable. I was never very happy in paying my exorbitant fee, but never hated the person collecting the money. But here we have a different kind of toll booth, from a different kind of person. Matthew was a Jew, but he decided to work for the Romans. The Romans who oppressed the people of Israel. The Romans who were not Jewish. Matthew worked for them and even over charged his own people. He was definitely hated. So, picture this, we have Jesus: preacher of the Sermon on the Mount, healer of all diseases, commander of demons fleeing into pigs, and Matthew: tax collector, traitor, greedy, lost, probably no longer a practicing Jew at the same place, at the same time. Jesus looks at Matthew and says, "Follow me" and Matthew got up and followed Him! Matthew left his post, left his job, probably left his money and followed Jesus. I don't think we can explain it or figure it out. It's a God moment. Jesus looked into Matthew's heart and eyes and had compassion. And Matthew looked at Jesus and saw God. Nothing more needed to be said. Matthew didn't need to be convinced. It was a God moment.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” The commentary of Mark 2:15 of the same story, "The Calling of Levi" or Matthew, says, "sinners" Notoriously evil people as well as those who refused to follow the Mosaic law as interpreted by the teachers of the law. The term was commonly used of tax collectors adulterers, robbers and the like. To eat with a person was a sign of friendship." Jesus went back to Matthew's house, sat with Matthew and Matthew's other friends that were tax collector's and sinners! Jesus loves everyone. Jesus accepts anyone. He gives everyone His time and attention. And of course the religious of the time, the Pharisees, couldn't understand it. They themselves would never have talked or dined with sinners, but here a man more 'religious,' more holy, Jesus, was sitting with them.
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus' words are just so powerful and convicting. He calls the lost, the ones needing help and desire help. He loves the 'lost' and desires to see them 'found.' Pray with me: Jesus, thank you for loving Matthew and calling him right where he was. He was actually in sin, or sinning as you called him. He wasn't trying to mend his way, or on his way to temple when you called him. Thank you for showing us, through this story of Matthew, your kindness, compassion and forgiveness. Thank you for going to Matthew's house and sitting with 'sinners' and eating with them as a sign of friendship. Thank you that you call us your friend. Thank you that you call me, in my sin, to be closer to you. I answer your call to follow you. I love you Jesus. Be my friend. In Jesus' name, Amen.