Summary: In this message from Matthew 9:9-17, Jesus calls Matthew the tax collector to follow him. Matthew throws a party for his sinner friends and invites Jesus and his disciples to it
The Person of Jesus series
Jesus Makes all things New
CHCC: April 4, 2010 - EASTER
Happy Easter. How many of you got up early and came to the Sunrise Service? At least this year Easter didn’t fall on the same day we move to Daylight Savings time!
I heard about a church organist who overslept one Easter morning. She said, “The service was scheduled for 6:30. At 6:31 the minister called to see if I was coming. Since I live near the church, I was at the organ by 6:45. Then, a year later on Easter morning my phone rang at 5:45. When I answered, I heard the minister announce: ‘Christ is risen! And you’d better rise, too!’”
Christ is risen! So … what has that changed in YOUR life?
Today we’re talking about a man whose life was completely changed because of Jesus. His name was Levi - a nice Jewish name. But Levi was also called by the Greek name of Matthew … and he worked as a Tax Collector for the Roman government. This occupation labeled him an outcast among his own people.
Then along came a young Jewish rabbi named Jesus … and the rest is history. Matthew describes this life-changing moment in one verse: As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. Matthew 9:9
From that minute, everything changed for Matthew. He had a new vocation, a new group of friends, and a completely new purpose for his life. One big change is that Matthew went from being an Accountant to an Author. He eventually wrote the first of the Gospels … the one we’re reading today.
The first thing Matthew did as a follower of Jesus was to throw a big party. Matthew records that a bunch of other tax collectors and “sinners” attended his party, along with Jesus’ disciples. So, here Jesus was, sitting in the home of a hated Tax Collector, surrounded by a bunch of notorious sinners, and who should show up to harass him but the ever-present Pharisees.
As soon as they got the chance, the whined to Jesus’ disciples: Why is your leader partying with a bunch of sinners?
Now these Religious Leaders would NEVER enter the home of a Tax Collector. Obviously, they couldn’t criticize Jesus for partying with sinners if they were at the same party. So they were probably hanging around outside the house, observing the wild party from a safe distance. But eventually someone passed the complaint along to Jesus.
On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
The Pharisees knew this scripture very well … but they didn’t GET it. They cared nothing about calling sinners back to God. All they cared about was keeping themselves ceremonially clean and untainted by the lowly riff-raff.
They were like doctors who won’t go near a sick person because they are afraid they might catch the disease.
Religious people today can fall into the same trap if we focus so much on keeping the church pure that we end up looking down on the very ones we should lift up.
Some churches work hard to keep the “riff-raff” out --- while God’s whole desire is to reach out to the “riff-raff” so He can save them … from their “riff-raff-dom.”
Speaking of riff-raff, I love this quote by author and former alcoholic Augusten Burroughs who said, concerning himself, “I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”
The emphasis of the Religious Leaders was making yourself acceptable by strict adherence to the LAW. Jesus presented an entirely NEW paradigm.
In this New Covenant, God extended GRACE to even the worst of sinners.
The greater the sin, the greater the application of GRACE.
Matthew knew what it meant to have a completely NEW life because of Jesus. I think it’s significant that the first teachings this new follower records tell us that Jesus came to earth to make all things new!
Matthew records three word pictures that illustrate this truth: a WEDDING, new CLOTHING, and new WINESKINS.
1. A Wedding
Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" Matthew 9:14
It’s doubtful that the disciples of John the Baptist attended Matthew’s party. John was an ascetic --- he and his disciples lived out in the wilderness. They lived a harsh life, dedicated to fasting and prayer, and they probably avoided parties altogether. And this was a rough time for these men because their leader was in jail … and we know from history that John would soon be beheaded by Herod. It was only natural for them to be sad and confused … and maybe even jealous of Jesus’ successful ministry.