Day Twelve: Tuesday, June 23th, 2020
Bible Lesson: Matthew 9:1-17
Reflection from Pastor Wayne Eberly:
“His presence is his present”
The Wise Men entered the stable in Bethlehem and honored Jesus with their presents. In our reading today Jesus enters the home of Matthew the tax collector and honors him with his presence. His presence was his present. Jesus is being just who the prophet Isaiah promised he would be, Immanuel, God with us.
With chapter nine we begin to see that the presence of Jesus in places and in ways the religious people did not find acceptable plants the seed of dissension. Jesus offers forgiveness to a paralyzed man. The teachers of the law silently charge him with blasphemy. Jesus has dinner at Matthew’s house. The Pharisees criticize him for eating with tax collectors and sinners. Even the disciples of John the Baptist have questions and concerns because the disciples of Jesus do not fast.
While we cannot help but pay attention to the budding opposition Jesus faces, presented in our passages today as charges of blasphemy, criticism for eating with tax-collectors and sinners, and not practicing fasting as other religious folks did, our attention to the opposition should not keep us from seeing what else is happening.
A paralytic was brought to Jesus. Why? The ones who brought the paralytic had faith that Jesus could heal.
A tax collector got up and left his tax booth to follow Jesus. Why? He heard the voice of Jesus calling him to a new life.
That same tax collector invited Jesus into his home and invited his friends to come and meet Jesus. Why? Well, as Jesus put it, these folks knew they were sick, they knew they needed a physician, and they knew they could count on Jesus to make them well.
What about that question of fasting? Without denying the role fasting might play in our spiritual lives, Jesus clearly lets the disciples of John know there is something so wonderful and so life-giving present that to practice fasting while these miracles of new life abound would be like missing out on the festive celebration of a wedding. And guess who the guest of honor is? Jesus is the bridegroom. Jesus is the guest of honor. Jesus is Immanuel, our God whose presence is his present to us.
I hope you find joy in these passages today. They tell us of the Jesus who came so that we might have life, and have it abundantly.
“Jesus’ messianic authority, revealed in the calling of Matthew as well as the miracles reported in this text, opens up the twofold issue in which his ministry is already engaged. First, Jesus does not employ his authority for judgment, but rather for compassion and mission. Second, his compassionate use of his own authority issues in judgment nevertheless, for his mighty works demand response and therefore evoke a decision and produce a division. This twofold issue has been building throughout the narrative. The crowds who witnessed the healing of the paralytic ‘were filled with awe and glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings’ (9:8). This is paired with the Pharisees, who take offense at him, challenging his authority to eat with tax collectors and sinners.” (F. Dean Lueking, “The Lectionary Commentary: The Gospels”, p. 49)