Are you coming or going?

This is a bar of Divine Chocolate. If anybody can work out the link between what I say this morning and Boy George then they can have it. You have until I leave the building this morning to work it out. The answer will be on next week’s notice sheet.

As I was mulling over the gospel passage for this morning, I was struck by the contrast between the two commands that Jesus gives in the course of the story. There are some similarities between the two orders: they both involve movement, they both require the hearer to do something, and they will both result in a changed life. But there is also a big difference between the two directions.

Can anyone hazard a guess as to what I’m talking about? What are the two commands?

The first is “Follow me” and the second is “Go and learn”.

In this story the first command is given to Matthew. Jesus is wandering around his home town, and he comes across one of the local tax collectors. The fact that he is a tax collector is very important.
We know that it is very important because it is the only detail we are given about Matthew. Here we have the story of the most important encounter in Matthew’s life, and he tells it in about thirty words. We don’t know his history, what he looks like, about his family, about his faith journey up to this point, anything. The only thing we know about Matthew is that he is a tax collector.

It’s a bit difficult for us to really get why this is so important because we don’t live in an occupied country. In Jesus’ time, Judea was occupied by the Romans. The tax collectors were native Jews who collected taxes on behalf of the Romans, and took a fair bit for themselves as well. The two closest things I can think of are the collaborators in France during World War 2, and Guy of Gisbourne in the Robin Hood stories. This man extorted money from his countrymen, was hated by them, despised by the Romans and was barred from the Temple, prevented from going to worship God.

It was this person that Jesus invited to follow him. Come follow so that I can show you a better way to live and heal you.

Continued here…

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