Third Sunday of Pentecost
Jesus Eats with a Tax Collector
(Matthew Hears the Call of Jesus and Writes His Story)
Matthew 9: 9 - 13
Mark 2: 13 - 17
Luke 5: 27 - 32
The lectionary is taught in a three-year cycle. The first year is the Year of Matthew.
We know very little about the writers of the New Testament, just as we know very little about Jesus' disciples: the focus of their writing and living was always Jesus himself.
Matthew, of all the Gospel writers, seems most aware of the need to place Jesus in Jewish tradition. He is the only writer who includes the genealogy of Joseph in his story.
But we do know that Matthew was one of the original twelve disciples, and one more disciple of Jesus who had two names: Luke and Mark both call him Levi, which may mean that he was from the tribe of Levi, the people who served as the staff of the Temple: musicians, guards, custodians, or record-keepers. From the way he wrote, we are certain he was Jewish.
Matthew was a tax-collector, a profession that was despised in Palestine at that time. Rome auctioned off tax territories to various individuals; after the tax-collectors gathered the amount they had bid, any money that was left over they could keep for themselves. Many of them collected as much money as they could in any way that they could in order to become rich very quickly. Tax-collectors were considered to be so dishonest that they could not testify in courts of law.
When Jesus called Matthew to follow him, he may have been calling Matthew back to his roots, to a knowledge of a better way of life that became better and better for him as he followed Jesus.
The Pharisees disliked the fact that Jesus would eat with anyone, especially tax collectors. Perhaps the many stories of banquets to which no one came in the book of Matthew reflected the tax collectors' lives. They were wealthy people who could give large, elaborate dinner parties, but anyone who thought he was respected in the community would refuse to come.
But Jesus came, and the tax collectors welcomed him into their hearts and homes.
The reference in Matthew 9: 13 is to Psalm 50.
1. What did Jesus say to Matthew?
[Jesus said, "Follow me."]
2. What did Matthew do when Jesus spoke to him?
[Matthew got up and followed him.]
3. Where did Jesus go?
[Jesus went to have dinner at Matthew's house.]
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