Matthew 9: 9-11
“9 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.10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
To us, as well as the Pharisees, Matthew seems like an odd choice to be a disciple of Christ. He was a hated tax collector. Jews considered tax collectors to be sinners by virtue of their office. By collecting taxes, tax collectors collected the money that Rome needed to continue their oppression of Israel. For this they were considered traitors. In addition, many tax collectors abused their office and collected many times over the amount that Rome required, and they kept the surplus for themselves. We do not know if Matthew did this.
When Jesus called Matthew, he called a man who was universally hated in Israel, but Jesus could look past Matthew’s present status into Matthew’s heart and knew what he could become. In Matthew, Jesus found a trusted disciple. In Jesus, Matthew found love, hope, and redemption.
God’s love is for everyone, even those society deems unworthy. No one is ever too low, too far down, or too far gone for the hand of God to reach them.
May the love of Christ be with you,
Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)