Minister’s Forum: Matthew set example for gift of grace |

Minister’s Forum: Matthew set example for gift of grace

Joel Martyn

In the midst of a simple phrase, a profound drama is enacted. “Follow me,” says Jesus to Matthew sitting at the tax booth. With a phrase, Jesus overturns psychological, social, political, and theological categories.

So often, we think of the offense of this call to the Pharisee and other leaders of the day.

However, not only are religious leaders and categories challenged by this audacious call of Jesus, but so is Matthew.

Will he follow this Jesus who has called him out? Will he leave his life behind for the new and unknown? Will he leave a life patterned with the familiar for the unsettled journey following this Jesus?

Following this Jesus will overturn the patterns of relationships and status that ordered his whole life. This invitation is not simply to climb up the ladder of success as he knows it or to simply change status positions in a familiar structure.

Rather, Matthew is called to new categories of human dynamics and interactions.

This call threatens him as much as it threatens the religious leaders who murmur and ask questions concerning the behavior of Jesus at the dinner.

The gift and call of grace also overturns and unsettles our lives. It is a call to let go as well as to receive a gift that makes its home in our hearts and minds and imaginations in order to shape our living as Christ’s body in the world.

On this day, living in this world, where so often we are in need of examples, we give thanks that Matthew got up and followed.

– Joel Martyn is pastor at Hope Lutheran Church of the Sierra.

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