Summary: 1. Jesus finds us (vs. 9). 2. Jesus urges us to follow Him (vs. 9). 3. Jesus fellowships with us (vs. 10). 4. Jesus functions as a doctor to heal us from our sin (vs. 11-13).
How Jesus Turns Trash into Treasure
The Gospel of Matthew
Sermon by Rick Crandall
(Prepared September 29, 2021)
*Today in Matthew 9, we will see how Jesus called the man God used to write this book of the Bible. His name was Matthew Levi, and he was a much-hated tax collector for the Romans. Matthew was considered to be among the worst of the worst sinners, but our merciful Savior died for all sinners! And Matthew was saved by Jesus Christ. His sins were all forgiven, and his life was transformed when he put his trust in the Lord.
*That's what Jesus wants to do in all of our lives. He wants to turn us from trash into treasure for the Kingdom of God. And Matthew's story shows us how. Let's begin by reading Matthew 9:9-13.
*Back in 1996, Craig Randall was 23 years old, and he drove a garbage truck for Waste Management up around Boston. Sometimes Craig liked to bring his work home with him: There was an old-fashioned sewing machine he salvaged, also some books that he got from the trash.
*Then one day, Craig lifted a cup off a pile of trash. It was a contest cup from Wendy's. The week before, Craig had found another cup, and when he peeled the sticker, he won a chicken sandwich. This time, he figured he'd win some fries to go with it. But this time the sticker said: "Congratulations -- You have won $200,000 toward a new home." Church, that would be almost $350,000 in today's money! (1)
*Craig turned trash into treasure. And that's what Jesus Christ wants to do in our lives. How does the Lord do it?
1. FIRST: JESUS FINDS US.
*In vs. 9, Jesus found Matthew sitting at work in the tax office, and that stirred up the Lord's enemies because Matthew was certainly considered to be a piece of human trash. Again, he was a hated tax-collector for the Romans.
*William Barclay explained that "There was never a more unlikely candidate for being an Apostle than Matthew. He was what the King James Version calls a "publican." That's because these tax collectors dealt with public money, and they were hated by almost everybody because they served their country's Roman conquerors. Tax collectors were also notoriously dishonest. Not only did they cheat their own countrymen. They tried their best to swindle the government. They also made a thriving income by taking bribes from rich people who wanted to avoid paying the taxes they owed." (2)
*John Phillips added that this type of tax collector also had great power to take out "his spite on people, play favorites, and inflict hardship. They could force merchants to stop their journeys, unload their animals, and open every package. They could ransack through it all, read private letters, and generally make life miserable for people. There were bridge tolls, road taxes, harbor dues, and property taxes, as many taxes as greedy imaginations could invent." (3)
*Matthew may have been a piece of human trash, but in vs. 9 Jesus found him sitting at work in the tax office. Jesus finds us. He meets us right where we are. That's because in Luke 15 and John 10, Jesus truly is the Good Shepherd who goes into the wilderness to find His lost sheep. Thank God!
*In Matthew 4, Jesus met Peter and Andrew after they had been at work fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Then a little while later, Jesus met James and John as they cleaned their nets. This was not the first time Jesus had met these men. But He met them at work to call them into His service, and in Matthew 4:19, Jesus said, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." In John 4 Jesus met the Samaritan woman at a well, and in Luke 19 Jesus met Zacchaeus when he was up in a tree!
*Jesus met people where they were. And remember that the Lord wants us to do the same thing. Jesus wants us to go to people where they live, work, shop, play, and go to school. In Luke 14, Jesus told a parable with this message: "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled."
*God always wants us to be inviting people to His church, but you know that the next few Sundays are special times to invite. Keep asking the Lord to show you who to invite, and then invite as many as you can. Again, Jesus said, "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled."
*Jesus finds us where we are. But this is not just a matter of the highway. It's a matter of the heart.