Summary: Jesus calls all the wrong kinds of people to join his revolution. Apparently, the wrong kinds of people are just right for Jesus.
“All the Wrong Kinds of People”
INTRODUCTION: If you were going to start a revolution, what kinds of people would you recruit? What demographic would you target? What character qualities would you look for? I suppose it might depend on what kind of revolution you were hoping to start, wouldn’t it? So let’s suppose it’s the biggest revolution there can be—God’s revolution, a spiritual revolution. Say that (as Brian McLaren puts it) humanity has created a totalitarian regime—a regime of lust; a regime of pride and power; a regime of racism, classism, ageism, and nationalism; a regime of consumerism and greed, where life is commodified, where people become slaves to their jobs, where time is money (which makes life become money). This regime is unacceptable, to put it mildly, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. God is sending His Only Son to recruit people to join a revolutionary movement of change ...
>>What kinds of people does Jesus call to join him in spiritual revolution? It seems to me, frankly, that Jesus called all the wrong kinds of people. [READ 1:16-20]
I. Jesus called people who were busy (1:16-20)
A. He called people busy with work (16-18)
1. A few people in Jewish Palestine were rich; most were relatively poor. Some, like fishermen, tended to fall between the rich and the poor. James and John clearly were not poor—they had “hired servants” as only well-off people did. None of these first followers left their business behind because it was going badly; they left behind well-paying jobs.
2. APPLICATION: Is your work keeping you busy? Maybe you’re the wrong kind of people to look for as spiritual revolutionaries.
B. He called people busy with family (19-20)
1. Many Jewish teachers in Jesus’ day felt that the greatest commandment was to honor one’s parents. To abruptly leave behind one’s family and the family business was a great sacrifice that went against everything the culture taught.
2. I picture Zebedee as Marty Crane, the grumpy father on "Frasier": “Oh sure! Just drop what you’re doing and follow this teacher guy. Who’s gonna finish mending these nets? Whup, net’s got a tear—I guess we’re all done with fishing! In my day, family came first! But if you boys want to leave everything I’ve taught you, and dump your only marketable skill, to wander around with some carpenter’s kid from Nazareth, you go right ahead.”
3. APPLICATION: Is your family keeping you busy? Your kids, your spouse, your parents? Maybe you’re not revolutionary material. But you know, Jesus called all the wrong kinds of people.
II. Jesus called people who were disreputable (2:13-16)
A. Levi was sitting “at the tax collector’s booth." We’re not talking about an income tax collector here. He was a customs official. Levi would have been assigned to a tax booth at a bridge or on a major highway. And he would charge a commodities tax on anything you were bringing into the area. So if you just caught ten fish on the Sea of Galilee, you would get taxed for the privilege of carrying your fish through that area on your way.
1. And what made people hate these tax collectors so much is that they usually charged people way more money than what the government required! And they took the extra money and kept it for themselves! And the Roman government didn’t care as long as they got their cut.
2. But there was something else that made Levi even worse than the average tax collector. He was JEWISH! Jews weren’t supposed to be getting rich at the expense of their own people! And they weren’t supposed to be working for the evil, Gentile Roman government! In fact, the Pharisees had a rule that if a Jewish man took a job as a tax collector, he was kicked out of the synagogue, and ostracized by the community. When they saw Levi, they would have said, "Levi is a traitor to Almighty God! He’s the worst kind of sinner there is!"
3. You might wonder what was going through the mind of the disciples as Jesus walked toward the tax-collecting booth.
a. “Is this it? Is this the beginning of the revolution, is he going to turn over the table, rip down the booth & beat this guy up? … That’d be good.”
b. “Maybe he is going to call that wicked man to repentance, I hope he’ll give it to him with both barrels!”
B. But when Jesus saw Levi, he saw a lonely man who needed a Savior. He saw someone who desperately needed something else to live instead of taking other people’s money. And so Jesus extended an invitation to this lonely outcast and said, "Follow me! Society may have rejected you. But I’m not going to reject you. Come Levi, and fulfill your destiny at my side. Come and follow me!"