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Summary: Matth (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: gcurley@gcurley.info) ew's converstion.

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Reading: Matthew chapter 9 verses 9-13.

Quote:

“Sign on door: "Gone out of business. Didn't know what our business was.”

That of course could never be said of Jesus Christ:

• He came for a purpose; he had an objective:

• And Matthew made it clear that Jesus has come to forgive sins.

• In these five verses, and in a very personal way,

• Matthew reveals how he had discovered that forgiveness first hand.

Jesus and Matthew (verses 9-10):

• In these verses this morning;

• Matthew actually records his own call to discipleship,

• And as he records his testimony, you will notice there is no exaggeration or boasting,

• But humility is very much a quality of his character that will shine through.

(1). An occupation (Verse 9a):

Matthew was a ‘tax-collector’.

• The main trade route from Syria to Egypt went through Galilee,

• And Capernaum acted as a tax station;

• It was a good station to be at, besides regular taxes paid by residents;

• Travellers had to stop, present their imported products to the tax official,

• And pay their taxes,

• Before they were allowed to go on.

• Matthew was apparently one of the tax officials working at this tax station..

• And each day he went to ‘the office’ or in his case the ‘tax-booth’.

These tax officials were very unpopular with the Jews (3 reasons why):

(A). THEY WERE DISHONEST.

• Often they were extortioners,

• Making themselves rich by taking too much money from their fellow Jews.

• The Roman government devised a system;

• To collect taxes as efficiently and as cheaply as possible.

• They did this by auctioning the right to collect taxes in a certain area.

• The man who bought that right was responsible to the Roman government for an agreed sum;

• Anything he could raise over and above that;

• He was allowed to keep as commission.

Tax-collectors were very fraudulent:

• Not only did they fleece their own countrymen,

• But they also did their best to swindle the government,

• And they made a flourishing income by taking bribes from rich people;

• Who wished to avoid taxes which they should have paid.

Ill:

When they asked John the baptiser, how they should live;

His reply was basically; “be honest!”

(B). THEY WERE TRIATORS.

• They were also hated because they were working for the Romans,

• Although they worked for them indirectly.

• Again the Romans contracted out to people like the Herod’s.

• He ran the region on behalf of the Romans.

(C). THEY WERE SINNERS.

• They were disliked because they ignored the Jewish laws.

• This explains why the Pharisees called them ‘sinners’ (verse 11).

Ill:

A sinner was someone who chose to live outside of God’s laws.

• e.g. If you worked on the Sabbath,

• e.g. If you did not follow dietary laws (ate pork).

According to Jewish law a tax-gatherer was excluded from the synagogue;

• He was included with things and beasts that were unclean,

• He was forbidden to be a witness in any case of law.

• In fact robbers, murderers and tax-gatherers were all classed together.

• On the social scale, tax collectors were on the bottom. (Even prostitutes had a higher social status).

(2). A challenge (verse 9b) “Follow me”.

• We have recorded in the gospels the calling six of the twelve disciples;

• Philip, Andrew, Peter, James and Matthew.

• To each of them, Jesus uses two key words to challenge them into action “follow me”.

• Note: would be disciples used a similar phrase “follow you” (chapter 18 verse 18-22).

The words “follow me” sound to us an incomplete invitation:

• If someone were to give you the same invitation to you and me;

• We would probably respond by asking; “Where are you going?”

It is interesting these men did not ask that question:

• The issue in discipleship is never WHERE we are going,

• But WHO are we going with?

• To be a disciple of Jesus Christ;

• Meant from now on you were caught up in his programme and live by his agenda.

• Discipleship is not about the fulfilment of the follower,

• It is all about the fulfilment of the master’s purposes.

When Jesus called Matthew:

• He called a man whom all men hated.

• Here is one of the greatest instances in the New Testament;

• Where Jesus has the ability and power to see in a man,

• Not only what he was, but also what he could be.

Ill: Gideon (“Mighty warrior”). Ill: Simon (“Rock”).

Matthew had some positive qualities. For instance:

(1). HE HAD COURAGE TO “SWIM UPSTREAM.”.

• He obviously possessed an inner strength to go a different direction than everybody else.

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