Monday, October 25, 2010

2010 – October 25 – When Mercy Means More

Study from God’s Word See the Bible passages from the synoptic gospels selected for October 25 in The Daily Bible in Chronological Order, documenting a number of the Sabbath confrontations which Jesus had with the Pharisees and religious leaders over his interaction with sinners and his healing on the Sabbath, all of which were leading to Jesus being labeled as blasphemous and an agent of Satan … Passage for Reflection: Matthew 9: 13 [from Matt. 9: 9 -13] … NIV 9As Jesus went on from there [after healing the paralytic man lowered to Him through the roof], He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," He told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
12On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'[from Hosea 6:6] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

My Journal for Today:
Today, Dr. Smith in his chronological presentation of the account of the tax collector, Matthew, being called out by Jesus, we read an interested difference in the account of Matthew himself in the third person as “Matthew” [today’s passage above]. However, in the parallel accounts in Mark 2: 13-17 and in Luke 5: 27-32 [linked] both Mark and Luke refer to the tax collector as “Levi,” his given Jewish name; and Mark even refers to him as Levi, the son of Alpheus.

So, why is this important? Well, think about it. If you were Matthew, after being recognized and called out by Jesus, would you want to be known as “Levi,” which in Hebrew means “joined with the priesthood,” or “Matthew,” the Hebrew meaning “gift from God?” As a tax collector, Levi had joined in cahoots with many of the Jewish leaders, which you read about in the three parallel references from today’s Bible readings; and so the people would have thought “Levi” was an appropriate name for this tax collector, one of the most hated classes of people in that day, especially since he had connected himself with the religious leaders of that day. And so, Levi had dubbed himself “Matthew,” and that was the name that Jesus, Himself, referred to His new disciple, one who was about to become an Apostle. Levi wanted more to be known as “Matthew,” one who saves, rather than “Levi,” one who joins with the Pharisees.

Names were very important in Jesus’ times; and we know of names being changed by God and Jesus to describe the true character of a follower. Studying “Abram” becoming “Abraham” in the OT and “Simon,” becoming “Peter,” in the NT are examples. But what we call ourselves when challenged as Christians today is just as important. Dr. Smith asks today in his challenge question: ”If I proudly wear the name ‘Christian,’ have I forgotten that it is a word signifying God’s great gift of mercy to me?”

And note what Jesus said from the above text, which confronting the Pharisees. He told them to go and see what Hosea had said in the Old Testament (see Hosea 6: 6), which foretold of the One Who would desire mercy more than any other; and that, of course, was Jesus, The Messiah, who proclaims in today’s text, for the Pharisees to hear then, or for us to read today, For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” And is not that the greatest act of mercy of all.

And so, just like Jesus called out “Levi,” who would become “Matthew,” He has called out yours truly, a wretched sinner, whom Jesus would rename “Saint,” and give me the mercy of His great gift of salvation, which He laid upon me when I repented of my sin and received His gift of saving grace.

Again, my friend … here it comes … HALLELUJAH!!!

My Prayer for Today: Yes, Lord, … HALLELUJAH … for renaming this sinner as “Saint” by Your shed blood and my faith in You as my Lord and Savior. And I pray that all who read here have received that same eternal gift. Amen

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