Monday, December 26, 2016

Matthew’s Call

Mark 2:13-22

“And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.  And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.” (Mark 2:13-14)

After healing the man with the palsy, Jesus went back to the sea shore.  Along the way he passed Levi, also known as Matthew collecting taxes, and called him to be a disciple.  This was several months after Jesus had begun his ministry, and Matthew knew a lot about what he had done.  He had no problem committing to follow Christ.  He describes the same events in Matthew 9.

“And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.  And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?” (Mark 2:15-16)

As a tax collector, Matthew was a public employee or publican, and probably had few friends among the more religious Jews.  When he invited Jesus to his home. He also invited his friends, people the Jews considered as inferior.  The religious leaders then tried to use his association with them to cast aspersions against Jesus. 

“When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17)

Jesus used the Religious leader’s elite attitude against them, pointing out that since they considered themselves to as so much better, they didn’t need his help as bad as those they considered publicans and sinners. 

“And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?

And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.  But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.  No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.  And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.” (Mark 2:18-22)

John’s followers practiced many of the same things the Scribes and Pharisees did, including frequent fasting.  They questioned why Jesus’ disciples did not place the same emphasis on fasting as they did.  The Pharisees viewed fasting as a way to get God to do what they wanted.  Isaiah 58 tells us such a fast is wrong.  Fasting is supposed to be for the purpose of developing a close relationship with God.  For Jesus’ disciples to be fasting while he was there with them would have been like a newly married couple sitting at the breakfast table and texting each other rather than talking together.  Fasting, like texting was for when they were apart.

Jesus then went on to explain that Christianity was not just a patch on Judaism or attempt to rebuild the traditional religion.  It was a whole different system, although it had some similarities.  Paul addresses this at length in Galatians.   


  1. Great analogy, Donald! This post helps me understand the wineskin-garment passage better. Thanks for the great post and God bless.

  2. Zechariah 7 is interesting, and gives help on fasting. I should do more myself!

    1. Most of us need to spend more time getting close to God.