Friday

21 September 2018

Matthew 9:9-13

For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners. (v. 13b)

Psalm: Psalm 119:65-72 

 

Background

Today is the day that the Church remembers Matthew, apostle and evangelist. He is called Levi by the writers of the Gospels of Mark and Luke’s but is known in all the gospels by the title “publican”. This is not because he ran a pub! It is the title given to a Jewish person who collected taxes from his community for the Romans. Such people were not regarded as good or holy people but were looked down on by their peers. From very early in the 1st century, Matthew, who was called by Jesus to leave his tax collecting and join him in his work, was regarded as the author of the first of the four Gospels.

Matthew’s Gospel is written in correct and precise language and is believed to have been written in such a way as to be read aloud to others. It has been described as a book about great reversals. In Matthew’s Gospel a wayside weed is described as being more beautiful than King Solomon in all his splendid regal attire. In Matthew’s Gospel the smallest sparrow dying is described as being of significance to the whole world and noticed by God. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus is described as wanting to spend time with those who were unimportant, isolated, sometimes only just tolerated by others, and were regarded as sinful people. It is said that for most of Jesus’ ministry described in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus would have broken all the purity laws about who to touch, who to eat with, who to share space with.

 Now Jesus is told that his behaviour is giving concern to the religious leaders and he responds with a clear assertion about his purpose. It is sinners, not the righteous, holy people he has come to serve. This is another great reversal – God’s good news is not for those who are holy people already but for all those who are open to change.

  

To Ponder

  • What did Matthew leave behind when he followed Jesus?
  • What would you like to be changed in your life?

Bible notes author

Revd Helen Cameron

Helen Cameron is a Methodist presbyter and Chair of the Northampton District. Prior to this she was the Assistant Secretary of the Conference and Director of Methodist Formation at the Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham.