Christy and I are with our teens at Camp Barnabas this week. Please continue to pray for our teens as they care for the needs of others this week. Their work is multifaceted and demanding, but the reward of serving kids with disabilities is tremendous. You can view pictures from the week here.
It has been a couple of weeks since I have preached. It is nice to have a break, but I am always eager to return to the pulpit. Our current series has been especially intriguing; I am excited to teach about Matthew on Sunday.
One might supposed that we know much about Matthew. He in fact authored one of the gospels; yet our knowledge of Matthew is limited. In his gospel, he only mentions himself twice. He speaks of his calling and includes himself in a list. That’s it. But Matthew’s calling is unique. It begins in verse 9, but the first 8 verses are a crucial part of the story. Jesus travels to Capernaum in this account. As is often the case, Jesus encounters a man with significant physical ailments. We might assume that this story will be like the others. Jesus shows up and heals the man. In turn, everyone is amazed. Yet this time, Jesus says something extraordinary.
(Matthew 9:2 NIV) Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
He is instantly condemned by the religious leaders. “Who can say this? Only God can forgive sins!", they demand. Jesus has a plan. He uses this encounter to reveal his authority, not only over the forces of nature, but over the forces of sin and death.
(Matthew 9:5-7 NIV) Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home.
Matthew records his calling immediately after this event. Why do you think this is the case? Matthew’s occupation is perhaps the most despised of his day. He was a tax collector. Matthew simply records,
(Matthew 9:9 NIV) As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
This is a loaded verse. Jesus can forgive sins and Matthew is one of the worst sinners around. In the next verse, Matthew invites Jesus to a party that includes his sinner friends. And while Jesus is questioned for his association with sinners, Jesus teaches us that hanging out with them is why he came.
(Matthew 9:12 NIV) On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
Matthew’s story is a great story. We can learn much about Jesus’ life and mission through the calling of Matthew. Join us on Sunday as we explore Matthew together.