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Jun 13, 2021

The Call of Matthew/Questions about Fasting

The Call of Matthew/Questions about Fasting

Passage: Matthew 9:9-15

Speaker: Pastor Stephen Palm

Series: Matthew: The King and His Kingdom

Category: Expository Book Study

The call of Matthew in verses 9-13 and the question about fasting in verses 14 and 15 seem to have little logical connection to one another. However, there is a common element. In verse 11 the Pharisees ask Jesus, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And in verse 14 the disciples of John the Baptist ask Jesus, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Both of these questions flow out of a Judaism which became obsessed with traditions about eating. Eating with sinners was a new taboo because of a tradition of saying “Common Grace.” They reasoned, you can’t pray with sinners and therefore you shouldn’t eat with them. And although Jesus fasted and encouraged fasting, he also made certain exceptions during the celebratory season of his earthly ministry. These questions drive the narrative and reveal the fault lines that will become seismic as we move through this gospel. In allowing themselves to be consumed with such traditions, the Pharisees lost the heart of God’s compassion for sinners. Jesus called sinners like Matthew. He ate with sinners, and He died for sinners. Most importantly, He transformed sinners. But just as the Scribes had no word of encouragement or hope for the paralytic that we looked at last week, they had nothing to offer Matthew and his friends but condemnation and shunning. This text calls upon us to carefully evaluate whether our religious traditions create a “Welcome” mat for sinners or a “No Trespassing” sign.