The Synoptic tradition contains only a few sayings of Jesus in which he articulates a specific sense of personal commission. We have already noted two of these. One comes in Matthew's elaboration of Jesus' response to the Syrophoenician woman: T was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel' (§13.3).177 Another in Luke's elaboration of Jesus' preaching in Nazareth: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor ...' (§13.4). But the saying with the strongest credibility — that is, remembered as said by Jesus, rather than an elaboration of his remembered attitude — is Mark 2.17 pars.: 'I came (elthon) not to call the righteous but sinners The saying comes in response to criticism from Pharisees that Jesus ate with 'toll-collectors and sinners' (Mark 2.13-17 pars.) and as the climax to Jesus' call of Levi/Matthew, the toll-collector, follow
175. Kaylor overstates his case when he argues that 'Jesus advocated the cause of the poor and powerless against the wealthy and powerful elites that governed under Roman rule', but he is on sounder ground in noting that 'the real choice is not between a timeless ethic or an ethic related to Jesus' contemporary situation, but between an ethic that engages the social world and one that does not' (Jesus 92-93).
176. Cf. Becker, Jesus 158.
177. To the same effect is Luke's conclusion to the Zacchaeus story: 'for the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost' (Luke The saying has been added to some mss. at Matt. 18.11 and a similar saying by a few mss. at Luke 9.55.
178. For other elthon sayings attributed to Jesus in the Synoptic tradition (Matt. 5.17; 10.34-35) see below, chapter 15 nn. 224, 237. The motif is more extensive in the Fourth Gospel (John 5.43; 7.28; 8.42; 10.10).
ing which Levi/Matthew as we might say 'threw a party' to which 'many toll-collectors and sinners' came.
Was this article helpful?