An astonishing choice! Jesus calls a tax-collector to be one of His twelve disciples. He calls him right out of his work station!
Tax men were despised. Collaborators, traitors who sold out their country and their faith for Roman money!
But Matthew just walks off the job to follow Jesus! A celebratory dinner party follows with a bunch of other tax-collectors and sinners!
Wow! The Teacher is not behaving like the typical religious leaders of the day. Such intimate fellowship with sinners – simply unthinkable!
Jesus is somehow guilty by association! This Teacher is condoning their lifestyle and further encouraging their wrong-headed ideas!
His answer …for I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance!
The religious leaders didn’t get it. Matthew certainly did. So did the other sinners at his dinner party.
There is something about Jesus that communicates – You don’t have to be good enough to be in my presence. I love you just the way you are, but I love you too much to leave you that way!
Who am I in this story? At the party or on the outside looking in!
Students of the Teacher know something is horribly wrong when Christians give the impression their fellowship is reserved for people who are somehow good enough.
We learn from Jesus’ example to be exceedingly careful not to give an impression that we and Jesus are friends, but you can only be in this circle when and if you become good like us.
No, if Jesus is our friend it is because like Matthew and his bunch, we know who we are.
Our hope for a changed life is in our ongoing relationship with this Teacher – this friend of sinners.