The Gospel of Matthew (chapters 8-14)

Nine chapters into the narrative, we finally meet Matthew, for whom the gospel is named:

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.  (Matthew 9:9-10)

Jesus calls Matthew to follow him and that very evening Matthew hosts a party for his friends. Notice that Matthew didn’t have any religious friends. His friends were outcasts—tax  collectors, like Matthew, and assorted sinners—who were not welcome in any synagogue. But Jesus enjoyed their company and as a result he stirred up controversy.

The Pharisees—deeply religious laymen—challenged Jesus’ habit of associating with outcasts, and Jesus replies:

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13)

About twenty years ago I found myself tagging along with Lynda and our friend Ginny Glasco to a bar that’s now called Bahama Joe’s. We were going to meet John Trimmer and hear his band Wolftown. Patty Trimmer was a friend and Northminster member. John was not interested in church, so my logic was that since he wouldn’t come to visit me where I work, I would go visit him where he worked. We were crossing Staples Mill Road from the parking lot and Ginny kidded me, “What are you going to tell your church members if they see you going into a bar? “That if Jesus were in Richmond tonight, this is where he would be,” I answered.

In the story immediately before the calling of Matthew, Jesus rubs some “teachers of the law” the wrong way by announcing that a paralyzed man’s sins are forgiven (9:1-8). Be sure to notice how the gospel of Matthew shifts it’s focus beginning in chapter 9. Matthew has spent 8 chapters informing us who Jesus was and what he taught. With this week’s readings Matthew begins to show us how a good, truthful, respected and popular rabbi came to be executed. His explanation: Jesus’ ministry was controversial among the powerful members of the religious establishment.

Notice as you read how the controversy surrounding Jesus clusters around five complaints:

1) He blasphemes by announcing forgiveness of sins.

2) He associates with outcasts therefore rendering himself ritually unclean.

3) He breaks the Sabbath prohibition against work by preparing food and healing; he            doesn’t practice ritual hand washing.

4) His power to heal comes from the devil.

5) His teaching is contrary to the Torah.

Notice how everyone is trying to figure out exactly who and what Jesus is. John the Baptizer sends emissaries to ask Jesus if he is the One they’ve been expecting. His own disciples are trying to understand who he is. His enemies are scratching their heads.

You might want to check out how Matthew brackets the controversies and questioning between two announcements that Jesus is son of God: demons possessing two men call him “son of God” (8:29) and some of the disciples use the phrase (14:33).

In between it’s not hard for me to imagine Matthew wanting to know, “And you who are reading these words right now, who do you say he is?”

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4 Responses to The Gospel of Matthew (chapters 8-14)

  1. logan jones says:

    “Wow!” Matthew. In chapter 12, Sammy, we read that Jesus flat out calls the generation “A wicked and adulterous generation …”
    “ADULTEROUS” – how ironic is that! I mean, isn’t he speaking to the ones who have and in fact are proud of having KEPT THE FAITH?! The Religious ones are the adulterers here, … No?
    My comment today is that Matthew “wows” me b/c he reminds me that I too am part of the “wicked and adulterous generation […]”
    I mean, WE ALL ARE, right?!
    Or who’s never in their life said, “I really just wish God would give me a sign!” or “I desire God to show me what to do here.” Etc. etc.

    – in Light of what Matthew has Jesus telling us, … HE HAS SHOWN US. “Am I willing to see it and respond to his invitations and follow him when he leads me to places I don’t want to go?”

    “Am I? … Are You?”


  2. Kasey Buckland says:

    So….Jesus casts out a lot of demons. Are people still demon filled today? What does that look like? Do we all have “demons” or “strongholds” on us? Is that how we can relate it?
    The people that Jesus healed and then told them not to tell anyone……most of them told anyway. Were they in the wrong for that?
    Also…..what do you mean his power comes from the devil? Is that from where the Pharisees said it?
    How is his teaching contrary to the Torah?
    I’m excited to learn all this!

  3. Kasey Buckland says:

    Matthew 12-
    – I don’t really “get” this passage…….43″When an evil[f] spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
    -Why didn’t Jesus go out and see his family when his mom showed up? I get his point that everyone who does his work is his family, but does he need to ignore his family to prove that point?

  4. Kasey Buckland says:

    Matthew 16- I’m used to Jesus telling people not to tell them who healed them, but why tell Peter to not tell anyone he is the Christ? Isn’t that what we are “called” to do either in words or actions ?

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