Summary: This message examines how Jesus’ teaching and treatment of people was so different from the cultural norms.
Listen to this word and think about certain adjectives that come to mind, politician. Generally words such as: crooked, dishonest, corrupt and selfish come to mind. Our experiences have stamped politicians with a social stigma that simply causes us to believe that politicians cannot be trusted. In Jesus’ day the same stigma could be applied to tax collectors. To the Jews tax collectors were nothing more than scum. In our text we meet a Jew by the name of Matthew who is employed by the Roman IRS. Needless to say, Matthew was not well liked because his success was dependent upon taking advantage of his own people. His job was to collect taxes for the government and the income he earned could be greatly increased by extracting more taxes from the people than was actually owed. So you can see exactly why the tax collectors were hated. To make matters worse they were viewed as traitors because their job was to help the Romans and they were viewed as unclean because of their associations with gentiles. So naturally Jesus is going to raise quite a few eyebrows by calling Matthew to join the ranks of the disciples. As if that were not enough, Jesus will go to Matthew’s house and attend a party. At this party naturally there were other tax collectors and other social outcasts. This would prove to be just way too much for the Pharisees to deal with. Our text shows us that we need to be aware of the fact that there are many around us who are dying in their sins and what they need is not our judgment but a Savior. Jesus’ example shows us that our task is not to simply huddle with other Christians but to reach out to those who are outside the church.
I. When Jesus calls someone to follow Him it is not without sacrifice.
A. Everyone Jesus has called to follow Him up to this point has had to make a sacrifice, but none have made a sacrifice as huge as Matthew’s.
1. Matthew obviously had a prime location for collecting taxes. In fact his tax booth was more than likely located by the dock where ships would come in with their goods from across the lake.
2. Accepting the call to follow Jesus for Matthew would have involved leaving a lucrative position and a wealthy life-style.
3. At first glance this does not seem any different from the disciples that Jesus had already called. Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John parked their fishing boats and walked away from a well paying job.
4. These four guys we were introduced to last week did leave their careers behind to follow Jesus. However they could always go back to fishing if the ministry thing did not work out, in fact they apparently go back to fishing for a while following Jesus’ death on the cross.
5. In Matthew’s case everything was different. He obviously had a great spot and there were many eager young tax collectors who were ready to take his position. So if he walked away it was for good, there would be no turning back.
B. We need to realize that the decision to follow Jesus many times will involve some very painful choices.
1. When we are called to follow or obey God, do we have the same willingness to sacrifice as Matthew? Are we truly willing to drop everything and follow?
2. Matthew made no excuses when Jesus called him; he willingly left behind everything that would keep him from following Jesus.
3. Matthew’s obedience would obviously bring about a radical change in His life. He left behind his prestige, his wealth and security. This would be a change that involved moving way beyond his comfort zone.
4. Like Matthew we must be willing to leave behind those things that could hinder us in following Jesus.
II. Jesus can use even those who are viewed as no use by society.
A. As the Pharisees and the other disciples scanned Matthew’s guest list their skin probably began to crawl.
1. The crowd that gathered at Matthew’s house was a crowd that Jesus could not reach at the synagogue because they would not have been allowed to enter the synagogue.
2. The crowd that gathered at Matthew’s house would have included other tax collectors. The term sinners would refer to anyone who did not measure up to the Pharisees standards for righteousness.
3. The Pharisees had strict rules against having fellowship with people such as these. However, the Pharisees main problem was that they viewed themselves as righteous and everyone else as sinners.
4. Jesus’ invitation for Matthew to join the ranks of the disciples probably even shocked the other disciples, but it illustrates the concept of forgiveness discussed in the opening verses of chapter nine quite vividly.