Year 2 Day 173
Read - Luke 5v27-32
Message - Scott Woodburn
I have never met anyone who enjoys paying taxes. Taxes are seen as a necessary evil and we constantly complain about paying them and how they’re being used. With that said, I’m sure if I ever met a “taxman” he’d be a perfectly lovely chap. I doubt I’d immediately hate him just because of his profession.
The Gospel of Matthew was written by one such taxman. Matthew is also called Levi in the Gospels and one day he was sitting in his tax booth. It was there that his fellow Israelites would come to pay their taxes to the rotten foreign power of Rome. Imagine being a Jew and taking part in such humiliation? Imagine being a Jew and working for Rome? Imagine being a Jew and helping yourself to a slice of your countrymen’s income? Needless to say, Matthew and his fellow tax collectors were despised.
Yet as Matthew sat at his hated tax booth, Jesus called him to follow and immediately Matthew left everything behind to follow Christ (v27-28). You would think that such a transformation would be the cause of much celebration, but sadly sinful people do sinful things. Matthew’s response to Christ was to hold a great feast in his home and invite many of his fellow tax collectors to meet with Jesus (v29).
This gathering raised the anger of the Pharisees. This Jesus, this supposed teacher was now reclining with the scum of the earth. Tax collectors and sinners had been invited to a dinner party! Utterly outrageous! Yet Christ’s response couldn’t be clearer. He didn’t come to make good people better. Instead he came to seek and to save the sick. He said “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (v31-32)
Everyone in those ancient days would have agreed that a tax collector needed to be saved. Tax collectors and prostitutes and the really horrible people. All of them needed a Saviour. Everyone else was pretty good and probably in the clear with Almighty God. The Pharisees had got it wrong and we often follow their mistake.
Until we realise that every single human on this planet is a sinful wretch in need of Christ, then we will never see the glory of the Gospel. Jesus came to save sinners. They may be sinners addicted to alcohol or they may be sinners who go to work everyday in a suit and tie. Christ died for the ungodly. No one is good, not one and all must repent of their sin and trust in Christ to be saved.
It is said that all Matthew took from his previous life was his pen and ink. We can be thankful for Matthew Levi and the Gospel he was inspired to write. It has been called the Gospel of the Kingdom and Matthew uses the word “kingdom” over 50 times. Jesus is the King and while His kingdom is already here, it has not yet been fully realised. It is a kingdom full of the great and the poor, the weak and the strong, the European and the African, the tax collector and the prostitute. A kingdom of men and women saved from their wretchedness by the blood of Christ. So my friends heed the call of the kingdom today, as Jesus once preached “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4v17)
Q58 What is required in the fourth commandment? The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his Word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself.