Jesus Calls Matthew to Follow Him (Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32)

Submitted by admin on Sun, 2007-09-09 09:44.

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Matthew (also known as Levi) doubtless was one of the tax collectors who responded to John the Baptist’s call to repentance. From the place where he collected taxes near the Sea of Galilee (probably on the outskirts of Capernaum), Matthew may often have heard Jesus speak and must have known about his many miracles. Therefore, when Jesus called him to follow him while he was seated at the tax collector’s booth, Matthew did not hesitate to do so. (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:13, 14; Luke 5:27, 28)

Probably to celebrate the honor that had been extended to him and to inform his friends and acquaintances about his new role, he invited them to his home for a banquet along with Jesus and his disciples. Observing this, the Pharisees and scribes made an issue of it, saying to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat [and drink (Luke 5:30)] with the tax collectors and sinners?” They implied that Jesus desired the company of those who failed to live up to the law. Tax collectors were in the service of a foreign power (Rome) and had a reputation for dishonesty, charging more than the required tax rate to make gain for themselves. As a tax collector, Matthew would not have been regarded as a desirable associate. Understandably, therefore, his guests were fellow tax collectors and others with a bad reputation. (Matthew 9:10, 11; Mark 2:15, 16; Luke 5:29, 30)

Overhearing their complaining, Jesus corrected the wrong view of the Pharisees and scribes, telling them that those who were well, unlike the ailing, did not need a physician. The Pharisees and scribes imagined themselves to be in an acceptable condition before God and so were unaware of their need of the kind of spiritual healing available through Jesus. The sinners and tax collectors, on the other hand, recognized their need for repentance and forgiveness. They welcomed Jesus as one who could help them. (Matthew 9:12; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31)

Backing his statement from the Scriptures, Jesus quoted from Hosea 6:6 and directed the Pharisees and scribes to learn from the words, “I want mercy and not sacrifice.” In keeping with his Father’s desire for mercy to be shown to those in need, Jesus pointed out that he came to call sinners, not the righteous, that is, those who regarded themselves as righteous before God by reason of their legalistic observance of the law. In reality, though, they were not truly upright, failing to manifest the love, justice, and compassion that the law required. (Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32; compare Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42.)