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18. Matthew the tax collector
18. Matthew the tax collector
Ministry I (Sermon on the Mount and Plain,Twelve Called etc)

18. Matthew the tax collector

Luke 5, 27-39; Matthew 9, 9-17; Mark 2, 13-22. A.D. 28, Age 31. Capernaum.

Matthew the tax collector. JESUS went forth again by the sea side; and the multitudes resorted unto him, and he taught them.¶As he passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew (later to be Matthew the apostle) , a publican (tax collector) , sitting at the receipt of custom: he said unto him,

Follow me.

And he (Matthew the tax collector) rose up, left all, and followed Jesus.

¶Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and, behold, many publicans and others sat at meat with Jesus and his disciples.

But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat with publicans and sinners? Why eateth your master with publicans and sinners?

When Jesus heard that, he saith unto them,

They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth. I will have mercy, and not sacrifice:  for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

¶The disciples of John used to fast often: and they come and say unto Jesus, Why do thy disciples fast not? Jesus said unto them,

Can ye make the children of the bride chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.

¶And he spake also a parable unto them,

No man also seweth a piece of new cloth upon an old garment; else the new piece that filleth it up agreeth not with the old: it taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.

Another parable put he forth.

And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the bottles will be marred: the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.

No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new; for he saith, The old is better.

Scripture:   Luke 5:27-32

Meditation 1 of 2: 

People in Palestine were divided into roughly two groups: the orthodox Jews who rigidly kept the law and all its petty regulations, and the rest who didn’t keep all the minute regulations. The orthodox treated the latter like second class citizens.  They scrupulously avoided their company, refused to do business with them, refused to give or receive anything from them, refused to intermarry, and avoided any form of entertainment with them, including table fellowship. Jesus’ association with the latter, especially with tax collectors and sinners, shocked the sensibilities of these orthodox Jews.  In calling Matthew to be one of his disciples, Jesus picked one of the unlikeliest of men — a tax collector who by profession was despised by the Jewish people.  When the Pharisees challenged his unorthodox behavior in eating with public sinners, Jesus’ defence was quite simple.  A doctor doesn’t need to visit healthy people; instead he goes to those who are sick.  Jesus likewise sought out those in the greatest need. A true physician seeks healing of the whole person — body, mind, and spirit.  Jesus came as the divine physician and good shepherd to care for his people and to restore them to wholeness of life. The orthodox were so preoccupied with their own practice of religion that they neglected to help the very people who needed the greatest care. Their religion was selfish because they didn’t want to have anything to do with people not like themselves. Jesus stated his mission in unequivocal terms: I came  not to call the righteous, but to call sinners.  Ironically the orthodox were as needy as those they despised.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom show them mercy and kindness?

“Lord Jesus, our Savior, let us now come to you: Our hearts are cold; Lord, warm them with your selfless love.  Our hearts are sinful; cleanse them with your precious blood.  Our hearts are weak; strengthen them with your joyous Spirit.  Our hearts are empty; fill them with your divine presence.  Lord Jesus, our hearts are yours; possess them always and only for yourself.”  (Prayer of Augustine, 354-430) 

Scripture: Luke 5:33-39

Meditation 2 of 2: 

Which comes first, fasting or feasting?  The disciples of John the Baptist were upset with Jesus’ disciples because they did not fast.  Fasting was one of the three most important religious duties, along with prayer and almsgiving.  Jesus gave a simple explanation.  There’s a time for fasting and a time for feasting (or celebrating). To walk as a disciple with Jesus is to experience a whole new joy of relationship akin to the joy of the wedding party in celebrating with the groom and bride their wedding bliss.  But there also comes a time when the Lord’s disciples must bear the cross of affliction and purification.  For the disciple there is both a time for rejoicing in the Lord’s presence and celebrating his goodness and a time for seeking the Lord with humility and fasting and for mourning over sin.  Do you take joy in the Lord’s presence with you and do you express sorrow and contrition for your sins?  Jesus goes on to warn his disciples about the problem of the “closed mind” that refuses to learn new things.  Jesus used an image familiar to his audience — new and old wineskins.  In Jesus’ times, wine was stored in wineskins, not bottles.  New wine poured into skins was still fermenting.  The gases exerted gave pressure.  New wine skins were elastic enough to take the pressure, but old wine skins easily burst because they were hard.  What did Jesus mean by this comparison?  Are we to reject the old in place of the new?  Just as there is a right place and a right time for fasting and for feasting, so there is a right place for the old as well as the new.  Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old (Matthew 13:52).  How impoverished we would be if we only had the Old Testament or the New Testament, rather than both.  The Lord gives us wisdom so we can make the best use of both the old and the new. He doesn’t want us to hold rigidly to the past and to be resistant to the new work of his Holy Spirit in our lives.  He wants our minds and hearts to be like the new wine skins — open and ready to receive the new wine of the Holy Spirit.  Are you eager to grow in the knowledge and understanding of God’s word and plan for your life?

“Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit, that I may grow in the knowledge of your great love and truth.  Help me to seek you earnestly in prayer and fasting that I may turn away from sin and wilfulness and conform my life more fully to your will. May I always find joy in knowing, loving, and serving you.” 


Ministry I (Sermon on the Mount and Plain,Twelve Called etc)The complete sayings of Jesus

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