Summary: Jesus is honored by Matthew as his new Saviour. To show his acceptance of Christ as his Lord, he throws a party-a meal-in honor of Jesus. Things go well until some nay-sayes come. Jesus sets them stright and sends them packing to find the truth about Him.
CALLOUSED COLLEAGUES CLOUD
There is nothing quite like sitting down to eat with friends and families. As my former Church Discipline professor told my class, “It is hard to eat with someone with whom you are angry.” There is something about food, friendship and family that make for an enjoyable time of sharing a repast. Such was the instance here.
Jesus had just commissioned Matthew to come and follow Him and it appears that Matthew, out of gratitude, gave a party for this most Honored Guest. For Matthew to simply up and leave his post as a Tax Collector was something very momentous. He had to pay a steep price to get this job and he made his living off the excesses he charged people who paid him their taxes. He then gave to Rome what he was billed regarding the tax revenue and he made good money in the process. For him to up and give it all away and follow Jesus was a tremendous change of heart and life styles. Yet, Matthew did just that and to cement his decision, he gave a party for his new “Boss” and announced to his friends and family his newfound calling of being a disciple of Jesus.
Since Matthew had a job-working for the Romans-it can be assumed that he was not the most liked person in the community. Certainly, the rich and well-to-do did not like this publican because he no doubt did his share of “gouging” them in the past. It can also be assumed, from the text, that he really did not have any or few influential people who liked him. The text says that there were publicans and sinners who came to the feast given by Matthew. Later, some snooty Pharisees made their appearances, but from all practical purposes, Matthew had few upper crust friends and yet he wanted to share with them what he had and to announce to everyone that from now on-things would be different.
As I study the passages before me, I see three things here. The first part of my sermon has to do with the CONVIVIALITY of Jesus and the ones who came to celebrate Matthew’s new way of living. The next part of the text reveals a CONTROVERSY that erupted when the Pharisees condescended on this celebration. Lastly, I note the CLARIFICATION given by Jesus to these party crashers and told them that they had a long way to go before they could really pass judgment on anyone else. The celebration started on a good note; it then took a dip in the happy mood evident at the mealtime; then, Jesus righted the situation and the joy returned to the guests and to all who came to celebrate Matthew’s Supper.
I. CONVIVIALITY: Matthew picks up the mood of the supper he gave for his Most Honored Guest by telling us who the guests were before the Pharisees arrived and weighed in on Jesus.
The mood of the supper, at least in my mind, had to be one of a Cheerful tone. I do not see anything in verses nine and ten that convince me that this supper was a solemn event. That mood seems to begin to surface in verses eleven through fourteen. Otherwise, the first two verses of this text of mine appear that the supper was one of conviviality and happiness. It is hard to enjoy a festive meal with sorrow and pessimism rearing their ugly heads. Maybe I argue from the point of silence, but I think the atmosphere here was a happy one. Matthew was just starting on a new life and he wanted to show everyone his newfound Friend and Leader.
Another point I make about the CONVIVIALITY of this special meal is due to the attendees who are mentioned in verses nine and ten: the publicans and sinners.
I notice that there were no people of high status mentioned here. There are no governors, leaders, princes, landowners, or anyone of high standing in that society mentioned as guests at this special supper. From all appearances, it seems that the common people were there at the start, which held no claim to fame or were given to pretentious posturing. In fact, these ones first mentioned were Common people who knew Matthew and were probably the ones who owed little to no taxes. If they did, Matthew could have been kind to them and could have charged them just what Rome wanted and no more.
These common people came with little expectations and nothing to offer except friendship and kindness to Matthew. They were the ones who appreciated anyone showing them attention and providing a good meal for their hungry stomachs. They came with their crude manner of living. They came with their zest for life. They came in their best of clothes, which were probably not very good. They came to eat, to laugh and to sit with the Rabbi who was already gaining a great deal of attention. They came because they were honored to be chosen to sit and dine with Jesus. They came knowing that He would accept them for who they were. It is no wonder they were having a good time. They came knowing they would not be criticized or condemned. They came because they felt that Jesus was one of them and they came to make the most out of this most unusual invitation. They came because Matthew must have been their friend and they must have felt that if Matthew liked to invite them-they would not turn down such an unusual invitation.