We're pretty sure the Matthew described in this story is the same Matthew who wrote this gospel story of Jesus. If this is true and he really wrote Matthew, then when you read this story, keep in mind that Matthew plops his own testimony down in the middle of stories of demon-possessed, lepers, and dead people. What is Matthew saying about how he felt about his life? 

In grade school we sang this song: "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I'll eat some worms." That was Matthew, the tax collector. When's the last time you called up the Internal Revenue Service just to tell them how good a job they were doing, sent them a card gift certificate to Chili's? Nope, you never, and never have I. Matthew was dirt in the eyes of Jews and non-Jews alike. He collected your taxes and extorted extra to line his pockets. 

Then a Jewish rabbi comes along one day in the market stall where you work and says, "Follow me." Here is Matthew's story as he tells it.

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. 10 And as he sat at dinner[a] in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting[b] with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”



Jesus the Messiah, you said to the people who were wondering why you eat with tax collectors and sinners, "Go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice." We confess, we often get stumped by this wording. Please show us what it means to be merciful in our day.


Are you stuck in a dead-end job, life situation where you can see no way out? Rather than thinking of a way out, reflect on and take one step and one step only away from the tax collector's table. The language Matthew's story uses is resurrection language. "He rose up and followed him." There was no huge master plan to stall Matthew. He had probably heard of Jesus, seen his miracles, heard his teaching, and he knew when the time came that he had to take that first step from behind the tax collector's table. What is your first step from behind your table?


Greg Taylor

Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.

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