Matthew 9:9-13: Mark 2:14-17; Luke 5:27-32
As Jesus was walking down the street he passed a table where a tax collector sat. The Jewish people did not like tax collectors because they worked for the Romans, who were enemies of the Jews and were also cheaters. As Jesus passed this tax collector called Matthew, He said. “Follow Me!”
Matthew had already heard about Jesus and he wanted to follow Him, but he was afraid Jesus would say no, for he was a tax collector after all.
When Jesus said, “follow me”, Matthew jumped up from his table and left his books and box of money behind to follow Jesus. A few evenings later, Jesus was eating dinner in Matthew’s house and with Him were more tax collectors and cheaters. When the religious leaders saw this they were not happy. They said to Jesus’ followers. “Why does Jesus eat with all these bad people?”
Jesus said. “Do the healthy need doctors?”
“No, the sick are the ones who need help.” Then He told them to think about how it was better to care for people with problems than waste time trying to follow rules which could only hurt people.
This was a new lesson for the religious leaders. They were used to thinking of God’s rules as reasons to punish and judge but Jesus told them that God had given them the rules so they would know right from wrong. They were supposed to love and help each other.
After Jesus had healed many people, He went off by Himself. He climbed up a mountain and prayed. All night long He prayed to God. When the sun rose, He called His disciples. He chose twelve of them; these men would be His twelve special helpers. They would be the closest to Jesus. They would be the ones to carry on Jesus’ work after He went to heaven.
It was a strange group Jesus chose. Peter, James and John were the closest to Jesus and they, as well as Andrew, belonged to the same fishing business. Matthew was a tax collector. Simon (another Simon, not Peter) was mostly interested in fighting a war with the Romans. The other men were Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, another James and Judas Iscariot and a second man named Judas.
After choosing the twelve, Jesus sat them down and gave them special orders. “Go to the Jews and heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons. Give freely.”
Jesus taught them. “Do not try and become rich only trust in God’s care. You will have enough to eat but things will not always be easy.”
Jesus was getting the apostles ready for the job they would do later. These were the men who would spread God’s Good News.