Matthew 9: Bring a Friend Along

Caravaggio, "The Calling of St. Matthew"

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting in the tax-office.

“Follow me!” he said to him.  And he rose up and followed him.

When he was at home, sitting down to a meal, there were lots of tax-collectors and sinners there who had come to have dinner with Jesus and his disciples.  When the Pharisees saw it, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?” (8:9-11)

Matthew wasn’t exactly the ideal candidate for a disciple to an itinerant Jewish rabbi.  He would have been a Jew, but many would have labeled him a traitor.  As a tax collector he was working for the enemy, the Romans.  Good Jews wanted out from under the Roman thumb, and Matthew was only perpetuating foreign tyranny.  Not to mention the assumption that Matthew was likely skimming a bit of the tax money off the top for himself, just like every other tax collector did.  So just the fact that Jesus would call Matthew to be a disciple was unexpected.

It is what Matthew did next that struck me today.

Matthew is leaving his life as a tax collector.  He is about to start a very different kind of life, dissimilar in ways he probably doesn’t even realize.  Still, he calls his friends to his house for one last party.  We can tell from verse 11 that this group of friends was composed of fellow tax collectors and other unsavory people.

Yes, Matthew is leaving his profession and even this town.  But he doesn’t just drop everything.  He is starting a new life, but he chooses to include his friends in this new life too.  It seems he wants his old friends to meet his new rabbi.

Did some of these friends become disciples too?  Did they come along with Jesus and Matthew?  We don’t know, but we do known that Matthew’s first act of witnessing was to his very own friends.  He wanted his friends to know Jesus too.

Good reminder.

What struck you in this active chapter?  

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Categories: Matthew | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Matthew 9: Bring a Friend Along

  1. This is great. I have read this account many times but never looked at it with those eyes. It is amazing how a true revelation of Jesus Christ will make you a fanatic and yes you want everyone you know to experience the thrill of Jesus. Being a Tax Collector Matthew probably had few friends, and what friends he had were most likely fellow tax collectors or other perpetuators of tyranny. Tack on the fact that Matthew gave the most thorough account of Jesus time on earth. I think we can say Matthew was a big fan of Jesus!

  2. David: Thanks for the comment. Good to have you here. Welcome! Thanks for tying back in the author we are speaking about. Nice insight.

  3. Melanie Semore

    I noticed what a disruption Jesus was in his world. This chapter is a flurry of activity–healing, raising from the dead, forgiving sins, plus dinners with sinners, failing to fast, and more. The Pharisees must have been exhausted trying to keep up with Jesus. Every time they refuted his power, he did another miracle. It must have felt like whack-a-mole. Jesus was clearly counter-cultural. Nothing comfortable or “establishment” about him. I’m not sure if my faith has ever looked counter-cultural, much less disruptive. I’m much more likely to be content with keeping things comfortable than with being radical.

  4. “Whack-a-mole.” HA!

    Lately, I have been thinking a whole lot about exactly what you are saying. How does one remain counter-culural when Christianity becomes a part of your dominant culture or micro-culture? At the same time, a radical, change-the-way-you-live Christianity is still pretty rare in a lot of circles these days. One that helps other change their lives may be even rarer.

  5. Pingback: Jesus had a thing for prostitutes. « A voice in the wilderness

  6. Pingback: Learning from a Tax Collector: Four Bible Study Activities « On Planting Seeds…

  7. Eddy

    “Become what you believe.” Again the Message translation hits me hard. Sometimes I wonder if I really do want to become what I believe? My belief is often too timid to live a bold Kingdom life I’m afraid. I think I need to believe more boldly so then I will become more bold in how I’m Living.

  8. “He has made a pact with the Devil.” It is amazing what we can think is evil. We become so attached to our own thinking, our traditions, our way that we are sure anything else isn’t just different, it is wrong, bad, demonic. I don’t want to be the person who stands for nothing, but I don’t want to be like these people either.

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