9 And after getting into a boat he crossed the sea and came to his own town. 2And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? 6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he then said to the paralytic—”stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” 7And he stood up and went to his home. 8When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings. 9As 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. 10And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” 14Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” 15And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. 17Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” 18While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. 20Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, 21for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” 22Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. 23When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24he said, “Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. 26And the report of this spread throughout that district.
Why did Jesus choose a tax collector as his disciple? Tax collectors were the IRS agents of their day. They were often heartless and would try to collect taxes from the poorest of the poor. They worked for a government that was wealthy and unjust. They were willing to hurt the poor in order to make the rich richer. Why choose a tax collector? The only answer I have is that Jesus looked at the inside of a person. Jesus must have seen much more in Matthew than just a tax collector. When Jesus looked at this Jewish extortioner, he saw what Matthew would become, the author of a gospel, a devout follower of Christ. Jesus saw the potential of the man and not just his external trappings. What if we were to look upon others with an eye for their internal potential rather than just an external evaluation? What if we sought out and believed in those who did not look so good on the outside but had enormous potential on the inside? Can that even be done? Saint Paul says that our hearts have eyes: “with the eyes of your heart enlightened…” (Ephesians 1:18). Love can impact the way we perceive other people. Love can cause us to look again. Most people would have walked right by Matthew with disgust, but Jesus saw something more than a tax collector. He saw a disciple. And in seeing Matthew as a disciple, Jesus could invite him to be one. How can we change the lives of those around us simply by seeing them differently?
The Very Rev. Kate MoreheadDean of St. John’s CathedralJacksonville, Florida
Who have you judged in your life? Can you take a moment and try to see that person with the eyes of your heart? Is there goodness within him or her? If so, how can you call that goodness forth?
Lord Jesus, help us to look upon others not with harsh judgment but with the eyes of our heart enlightened. Help us to look not just at outward trappings but into the soul of a person. Help us to see potential in others and to call forth goodness. Amen.
Crafton, Barbara Cawthorne. A Journey With Matthew: The 50 Day Bible Challenge . Forward Movement. Kindle Edition.