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"As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him. 
          And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.  When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners."  Matthew 9:9-13 NRSV 
         
For the last few weeks we have been studying the Sermon on the Mount together during our Sunday morning worship.  The Sermon on the Mount is the longest record of Jesus preaching that we have in the New Testament, and it is likely just the outline of what may have been a very long sermon. 
          In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presents his Rabbinic vision – he calls all people to turn the world upside down and join him in the Kingdom of the Heavens here and now.  That’s right, not pie in the sky by and by – a new Kingdom now. 
          Take a look with me at a subtle development that usually goes unnoticed in the Gospel of Matthew.  We are in chapter 9 - roughly a third of the way through Matthew's Gospel account and someone gets invited to the party!  Why, it's Matthew himself! 
          It makes me wonder and recreate some of the story in my imagination.  I wonder what Matthew's life as a tax collector was like before this day when Jesus invites him to come and follow.  Apparently, Matthew was a devout Jew -- at least he carefully couches all of his Gospel account in context of the Jewish heritage. 
          As a tax collector, he would have been outcast and hated by all of his Jewish nation, and yet he would  have been rich and powerful. 
          It is not noted here, and we have no way of knowing, but I can't help but notice that Matthew comes to faith very soon after the Sermon on the Mount of chapters 5,6 and 7.  I can't help but wonder if Matthew was in the crowd on that hillside a couple of chapters ago.  Perhaps he heard Jesus Rabbinic teaching, and found the teaching transforming and irresistible!  That would make sense that days later as Jesus passes by he quickly leaves everything to follow. 
          What is your salvation story?  What led up to you hearing the invitation to come and follow Jesus?  Perhaps today you and I will be a part of another person’s call to follow our savior and friend Jesus of Nazareth!  Is it time to come home, and join us for worship?  Perhaps there is someone missing form our fellowship and you are the one that is being nudged to invite them back.  The invitation to come and follow is as real today as it was the day near the sea of Galilee! is not noted here, and we have no way of knowing, but I can't help but notice that Matthew comes to faith very soon after the Sermon on the Mount of chapters 5,6 and 7. I can't help but wonder if Matthew was in the crowd on that hillside a couple of chapters ago. Perhaps he heard Jesus Rabbinic teaching, and found the teaching transforming and irresistible! That would make sense that days later as Jesus passes by he quickly leaves everything to follow.Take a look with me at a subtle development that usually goes unnoticed in the Gospel of Matthew. We are in chapter 9 - roughly a third of the way through Matthew's Gospel account and someone gets invited to the party! Why, it's Matthew himself!  Pastor Bill