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In Matthew chapter 9 we read about Jesus not only healing - but also forgiving sins. This is a power and an authority - forgiving sins - that only God could truly have. It is true that Jesus would be blaspheming, per the teachers of religious law in this passage, if Jesus was not God. So, perhaps for some reading this blog, this might be a good point for you to ask yourself: do you believe that Jesus is God? If this is your first go through the Bible or the gospel of Mathew, you may not feel ready to answer this question yet. But ask it of yourself now - and again as you continue to read this gospel: do you believe that Jesus is God? Do you believe that Jesus, as God, could not only heal the paralytic but forgive his sins as well?
In today's readings, Jesus calls Matthew (or "Levi"), the author of this Gospel, and a Jewish tax collector at the time of his call. Note that while Jerusalem was under the authority of Rome at this time, Rome would hire Jews to collect taxes from other Jews that would be paid to Rome. The Jewish tax collectors were allowed to keep a commission or percentage of the taxes they collected - however, they were notorious for overcharging and making more than they should have in their collections. As such, Jewish tax collectors were typically not allowed to be in the temple - nor were they even trusted as witnesses in trials. And this is our Gospel writer! :) (yes, I still trust Matthews writings - he, like us, was forgiven & changed after meeting Jesus) Below is a painting of Jesus calling Matthew at his tax collector booth - I love how Matthew is very attentive in this image toward Jesus in the midst of all the chaos around him. Are you this attentive toward Jesus in your life today?
In this chapter Jesus has a meal with "tax collectors and other notorious sinners." And the religious leaders ask Jesus why he eats with such "scum." I do hope that you see that this is such an amazing thing about Jesus - he will have a meal with anyone - the "scum of the earth" as one translation calls sinners who believe in Jesus in one of Paul's letters. Jesus loves the "scum". And he gets frustrated with the religious leaders who are righteous in their own eyes. Why the difference? I think verses 12 & 13 answer this well: "When he heard this, Jesus replied, "Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick people do... For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough." So, this leads to some questions we may want to ask ourselves today. Are we spiritually healthy or are we sick? Do we need a spiritual doctor? Do we need Jesus? Are we sinners? Or, do we think we are already "good enough" on our own? Like Jesus, will we talk and dine with "sinners" in our lives today?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Matthew chapter 9 titled "The Authority to Forgive Sins" is at this link.
Worship God: Today's readings about tax collector Matthew and Jesus reminded me of Christy Nockels beautiful song "Waiting here for You:"
Are you waiting on God? Click here and wait no more!
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: From our Matthew readings today, Jesus dining with sinners did make me wonder this question, which I posted above: Like Jesus, will we talk and dine with "sinners" in our lives today? Or, do we consider ourselves somehow "above" talking and dining with sinners? One thing that I have to be careful of - and maybe all of us do - is not getting myself stuck in the "Christian bubble" or the "Christian ghetto." Meaning, I think we can sometimes find ourselves just spending time, just talking with, just dining with our Christian friends. And then after a while find ourselves completely removed from the world that needs to experience Jesus' love and light and truth through us. I think we are called to minister in the world. Yes, there is a time and place for sure to fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters. But, I think we do well to find some occasion to talk and dine with "sinners" (not so unlike ourselves, also sinners...) like Jesus did. So, how are you doing with finding time to talk and dine with folks who perhaps do not yet know God or Jesus? Do you think this is something you should be doing? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
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