Summary: A Sermon for the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost Proper 5
Third Sunday after Pentecost
"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.
The first paragraph of our gospel lesson this morning is a beautiful picture of a journey, a journey of Matthew from his life as a sinner, to a life as a saint, or a follower of Jesus. In those four lines, we have a picture of each our lives, as we take that same journey, from one who is called to be with Jesus, a saint, and at the same time a sinner.
The journey begins with Jesus seeing or confronting Matthew, or Levi in the tax office. Jesus was passing by, saw Matthew and called out to him saying, "Follow Me."
Now can you imagine what went through the mind of Matthew at that point? What did he think? What did he feel?
First, I think, we need to understand who Matthew was.
He was a publican, a collector of taxes for the Romans, and he was a Jew. In the eyes of the Jewish religious authorities, he was a sinner because of the job he was doing. He was an outcast, someone who did not belong.
So, Jesus is walking by seeing Matthew at his window working away, and calls to him, "follow me."
Maybe Matthew was startled by the call. Maybe he was engrossed in his work and looked up and said to himself, "Was that Jesus calling me, calling me to follow him?"
"Why me, I am an outcast, a sinner in everyone’s eyes? But I have heard Him preach, I have heard Him reach out to sinners, and He wants me? "
"What did he say, follow me!!" Well, why not. Things can’t get any worse and hey they just might get a whole lot better. Yes I will follow Him."
"Hey he is going into that house and there are a whole lot of "other sinners" there. Yes, Jesus I will follow you!!"
I do not know if that was the thought process of Matthew, but in my mind I think it could of gone something like that. It was just a few simple of words of Jesus that propelled Matthew to leave his job and follow Jesus, period. Notice, Matthew did not ask any questions, did not find out more information, he just left.
Now, many people have asked me why Jesus doesn’t do that today, why doesn’t he come face to face with us today. Why don’t we have a voice from heaven, a bolt of lightning, why doesn’t Jesus walk by my desk in the office or by my kitchen window or my field as I am out plowing and call me? Why don’t we have that physical presence of Jesus today?
That is a difficult question to answer!!
But I think that Jesus does call us to follow Him but in different ways. He calls to us through our worship, through the word and the sacraments and through out neighbor as that neighbor shares his or hers faith with us.
We are called people of Jesus but just not in the same way. We are called and chosen through our Baptism. We are called each time we come to church and encounter the word of God. We are called each time we take communion.
Peter says in 1 Peter 2:9
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
10* Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.
We are called and chosen people and we must live and act like it.
Some times I think we are like the fish in the following:
"There is a legend about a little fish who overheard a fisherman say that fish needed water to live.
The little fish became worried and started hunting for water. He swam from creek to river from river to the seven seas.
One time he met a big, old wise fish who saw how worried the little fish was and asked what the trouble was.