Summary: A sermon for the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost Proper 5 The call of Matthew
3rd Sunday after Pentecost
"The Journey from Sinner to Saint!"
"As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him. And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ’I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."" Matthew 9:9-13, RSV.
Grace and peace to you from our Lord, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
The first paragraph of our gospel lesson is a beautiful picture of a journey, a journey which Matthew walked as Jesus called him from of life of a nonbeliever, from a life of a sinner, to a life as a saint, a follower of Jesus. This call of Jesus began a process in Matthew’s life, in which a transformation began to take shape. A transformation which changed and continued to change him from a sinner to a saint. This did not happen all at once,because as Luther says, we are "saint and sinner at the same time." But we are always in motion, moving, changing, becoming more of the saint and less of the sinner. We will finally reach that sainthood in the rooms that Jesus has prepared for us in the Father’s mansion. As Paul says, God’s Spirit works with our Spirit so we might become heirs and children of God.
In these four lines, we have a picture of a process beginning, of a man becoming what God intends for each of us. We have a picture of our lives as Christ has called us to that same journey.
The journey begins with Jesus seeing or confronting Matthew, or Levi in the tax office. I can imagine Jesus coming into that office, sitting in a chair opposite Matthew, looking him right in the eyes, face to face, heart to heart, soul to soul. There was no ignoring Jesus, no getting away from Him, Jesus was right there, a man to man confrontation, something had to give.
Now, many people have asked me why doesn’t Jesus do that today?? Why doesn’t He come face to face with us.?? Why don’t we have a voice from heaven, or a bolt of lightning to confront us with the power of Jesus and God?? Why doesn’t Jesus sit across from me at my kitchen table, drinking coffee and telling me about Himself?? Why doesn’t He show up at coffee time at the cafe, or why doesn’t He drop around the Ice Cream Parlor around 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. for an ice cream cone and visit??
I would like to summit that we do have a confrontation with Jesus, many of them, maybe not a physical confrontation in the same way Matthew did, but we do have a confrontation with Jesus today. He is just as much present with us today, as He was with Matthew in that tax office over 2000 years ago. You and I are confronted by Jesus in ways that we don’t realize or expect.
I would like to suggest we are confronted by Jesus in a variety of ways just as God confronted the people in the Old Testament in a variety of ways. I would like to suggest three ways God confronted the people in the Old Testament and suggest Jesus uses those same means today.
First, if you will recall the story in II Samuel 12:1-7 where Nathan accuses David of his sin in killing Uriah and then his adultery with Bathsheba, we have one way in which God confronted a person, through the voice of another. Nathan was used by God to confront David. Jesus confronts us today in the same manner by using other human beings. We are confronted by another in our sin or with the comforting word of scripture in a time of need or with the power of the gospel in another’s heart to bring that salvation into our lives.
Secondly, recall the story in I Kings 19:11-13, Elijah is running away, he runs to a cave to hid from his killers. God comes to Elijah, not in a mighty wind, or fire, or thunder, or lightening, but in a still small voice. Jesus, I think, encounter, confronts many today, in that still, small quiet voice of our conscious. He speaks to us in our mind’s eye, in our heart, in our soul.