Wednesday

13 March 2019

Matthew 9:9-13

'Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’ (v. 13)

Psalm: Psalm 96

Background

Your average GP has to work hard to keep themselves fit and well. They can’t hide behind screens and be kept away from the various conditions of their patients. Today we meet the physician who has come to get amongst the crowd and make them well.

Jesus’ actions confront the Pharisees with new and challenging thinking. For them, preserving their moral, spiritual and ritual purity was paramount. They would be anywhere but among tax-collectors and sinners. The fact that Jesus has to challenge their understanding of part of Hosea’s prophecy (Matthew 9:13, cf. Hosea 6:6) suggests that they still have much to learn about the law that they were supposed to uphold.

Chief among the outcasts here is Matthew, the supposed writer of this gospel. Why do we find the story of his calling among a series of healing stories? Perhaps this is Matthew’s experience of being made well by his GP. As a tax collector, Matthew would have been unpopular. How do you feel, for example, about being confronted with a toll road on a long journey? The person collecting the toll isn’t your instant friend! Still, Jesus calls him and we’re told that "he got up and followed". Just as the paralysed man ‘got up’ (Matthew 9:7), so Matthew experiences a fraction of the power of the resurrection in his own life.

 

To Ponder:

  • What do you need from this Physician today?
  • Where have you seen evidence of the resurrection in your own life or in the lives of those around you?

Bible notes author

Revd Ian Worsfold

Ian is coordinating chaplain at City, University of London and Chaplaincy Coordinator for the London District of the Methodist Church. He co-leads the worship for the annual Methodist Conference and chairs the Singing the Faith Plus Reference group that oversees the supporting website. He enjoys musical theatre, good food, wine and good company.

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