February 1, 2023
Bishop, W. F. Houston, Jr.
*C H O F Ministry Bible Study Reading: Matthew 9:9–13
**C H O F Ministry Focal Verse:
Matthew 9:13 - Go and learn what this means:
‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’
There is a masterpiece painting called "The Calling of Saint Matthew" by Caravaggio. The Painting depicts Matthew as an older man counting the proceeds of his tax collection. He's pointing to himself as if to ask, "Who, me?" as he has just recognized that Jesus is calling him to be one of His disciples. His amazement and spiritual awakening may be seen on his face, which is the picture's subject.
Although we can't be sure of Matthew's interpretation of this scenario, we have the story directly from his Gospel in his own words. He used this instance to illustrate what it meant to give up the old life, break away from the world, and follow Jesus. Jesus and Matthew probably already knew each other because they had been living in Capernaum for some time. Jesus' call likely marked the culmination of a developing friendship (v. 9). Tax collectors were considered Roman sympathizers or traitors by their fellow Jews throughout the period. They were equally dishonest as well. Jesus' decision to invite a tax collector to become one of His followers broke several social norms and conventions of the time.
Matthew's first inclination was to tell his fellow tax collector buddies the good news (v. 10). The action, without a doubt, infuriated the Pharisees, and they criticized Jesus for eating and fellowshipping with social misfits as if they were close friends (v. 11). The timeless response of Jesus demonstrates that sinners are the ones who require a savior, just as sick people need medical attention (vv. 12–13). Realizing oneself to be a sinner who is spiritually dead is the first step in comprehending the gospel.
Jesus also bluntly instructed the Pharisees to go and study Hosea chapter 6, verse 6: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." They needed to let go of their pride and "expertise" to understand God's loving character, which can be found throughout the Old Testament and in Jesus' selection of Matthew in this passage.
* Beloved, to become a follower of Jesus you must abandon your former life (lifestyle), and isolate (separate) yourself from the world.
Let Us Pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, some of the most brutal truths bring the most happiness. By admitting that we were helpless, hopeless sinners, we were saved and given eternal joy. Please help us tell other people the painful and joyful truth of the gospel! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.