As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
When Jesus began his public ministry, or his public campaign, it could have taken many different paths. Early on in his preaching the Apostles and disciples were probably unsure who Christ was, or what his role in society was going to be. He could have taken john the Baptists role and preached repentance, he could have taken the role of a prophet,or gathered people together to form a militia and liberate his country. Bandits were known to be active in the hill towns and frequently attacked as political statements and not just as a means of income.He also could have taken the role of Rabbi.
Both Matthew himself and this passage from his gospel give reason to Jesus’s ministry. Matthew was a tax collector, which was not considered in either Roman or Jewish society to be a profession of particular high rank. In ancient days, it was not just physical deformities that carried a stigma about them; professions too could stigmatize a person. Tax collectors were not people that honorable citizens would care to associate with. Yet Jesus picks Matthew as one of his disciples. Jesus not only associates with Matthew, he eats with him and he defends him; Jesus takes the social hierarchy that was so important in that day and disregards it. As with the healing of the paralytic he challenges the cultural norms of the day and he changes them. Jesus does not identify his role as a military leader but as a physician, a healer. Matthew himself is an example of that healing, no longer ostracized to the fringes of society simply because of his livelihood but instead offered a choice spot at the table; and by being brought to that table he is brought back into society. He is healed. The importance of Matthew being seated at that table is illustrated by his gospel and his life.After that meal Matthew could have went his own way, yet he did not. He became a disciple,and an Apostle of Jesus Christ from that moment onward. The good news he wrote is evidence of that, that’s how important having a place at that table was to Matthew.. .