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Jesus healed social divisions in Israelite society

April 24, 2024

Daily Scripture

Matthew 9:9-13, Luke 19:1-10

Matthew 9
9 As Jesus continued on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at a kiosk for collecting taxes. He said to him, “Follow me,” and he got up and followed him. 10 As Jesus sat down to eat in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and his disciples at the table.
11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 When Jesus heard it, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. 13 Go and learn what this means: I want mercy and not sacrifice [Hosea 6:6]. I didn’t come to call righteous people, but sinners.”

Luke 19
1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through town. 2 A man there named Zacchaeus, a ruler among tax collectors, was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your home today.” 6 So Zacchaeus came down at once, happy to welcome Jesus.
7 Everyone who saw this grumbled, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I repay them four times as much.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this household because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 The Human One [or Son of Man] came to seek and save the lost.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

In Jesus’ day, “righteous” people grouped Matthew and Zacchaeus under the label “tax collectors and sinners.” Tax collectors helped pay the Roman occupiers by collecting taxes (usually excessive) from other Israelites. But Jesus ignored labels in favor of responsive hearts. “The Jewish historian Josephus (A.D. 37–93) explained that the first-century [Jericho to Jerusalem] road was… about eighteen miles long.” * There, almost to Jerusalem, Jesus met another tax collector, and his caring outreach transformed the man’s life.

  • Matthew was an outcast from respectable society. Just imagine the type of friends who came to his house to eat with Jesus! (The Message paraphrased “tax collectors and sinners” in Matthew 9:11 with colorful precision as “crooks and misfits.” **) Who might you see as “tax collectors and sinners” in 2024? How do you believe Jesus would treat (and have us treat) those people?

  • Jesus said his mission was “to seek and save the lost.” Scholar William Barclay said, “‘Lost’ does not mean damned or doomed. It just means in the wrong place…. A lost [person]… has wandered away from God; and is found when once again in the rightful place as an obedient child in the Father’s… family.” *** In what ways has God offered you your “rightful place” in God’s family? When have you been able to help God “find” someone else?


Loving Lord, help me to see others through your eyes that lit up with love and compassion at the sight of a “sinner.” Help me to love and serve anyone I can in your name. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Angie McCarty

Angie McCarty

Angie McCarty serves as a Pastor in Resurrection’s Adult Discipleship department, creating and managing Leawood’s classes for adults, and as part-time pastor at Spring Hill United Methodist Church (soon to become a new Resurrection location). She completed her doctorate degree at Saint Paul School of Theology in May 2023, focusing on Christian sexual ethics. Angie is married to Jonathan Bell, who also serves on staff at Resurrection. Together they have six kids, a live-in sister who is active in Matthew’s Ministry, and a totally joyful life.
Angie wrote this blog for us in 2022, when her son first began attending the University of Arkansas.

My son goes to the University of Arkansas. Woo Pig Sooie! He is 6’ 6” tall. (Yes, his dad is tall. No, I’m of average height.) When he hugs me I have to stand on my tip toes get my arms around his neck. I always feel safe when I’m with him, even walking downtown in an unfamiliar town after dark. No one is going to mess with him, even though he’s incredibly gentle and kind.

Jackson constantly looks down on people. Not in an arrogant way, but in a “having to bend his neck to look in someone’s eyes” kind of way. He’s not as high above the crowd as Zacchaeus, but with a few more inches, he might be close. Given what little we know about Zacchaeus, he probably did look down on people from a heart filled with arrogance. He might not have looked people directly in the eye, filled with the shame and guilt that comes with cheating people out of their hard-earned wages.

I imagine Jesus in a crowd of people, instinctively knowing Zacchaeus was in the tree. Jesus makes eye contact with him, sinner that he is. Jesus issues an invitation to a shared meal, an act of communion and intimacy. Jesus picks the most lost, the most broken, the most shame-filled and says, “Come…let’s spend some time together.”

Brene Brown is one of my favorite authors. She has made research on shame, vulnerability, and empathy her life’s work. (If you haven’t watched her two TED talks, find them on YouTube. You’ll be glad you did.) She writes, “Shame is that warm feeling that washes over us, making us feel small, flawed, and never good enough.” “Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” Is this how Zacchaeus felt when Jesus called his name?

Shame is one of my uninvited life companions. I don’t want to feel shame. I ask God to heal the broken places in me that lead to this useless emotion. Yet there is a voice that whispers, “You’re not good enough. Of course, you messed this up. Why can’t you get it right?” And then, in my sacred imagination, I hear it…a still small voice calling my name. “Angie…Angie. Climb down from that place of shame. I want to be with you. I want to spend time with you. You are good enough for me. You are loved. You are mine.” I’m not going to lie. That doesn’t make it all better in an instant. However, it does change my gaze from a place of shame toward the eyes of Jesus. In Jesus, I find a welcome embrace, filled with grace that is sufficient to take the first step toward a renewed life in Him.

Jesus calls your name. I hope you hear Him. I hope you choose to take a step toward Him.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* From
** From Eugene H. Peterson, The Message. NavPress, 1993-2002.
*** William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Luke (Revised Edition). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975, page 257.