Summary: Jesus touched the life of one tax collector & changed him forever.
“ONE TAX COLLECTOR” Luke 5:27-32
CWBC – 1/20/19
INTRO – God can save anybody. Do you believe that? If we were honest, we would have to say that sometimes we have a hard time believing certain people can be saved. Heard a story just this past week of a guy who had been arrested for domestic violence when he got drunk & pistol-whipped his wife. Talked to a pastor about it. Pastor asked him if he realized that every time he got in trouble w/ the law, it was when he was drunk. Pastor counseled him some more & led him to give his life to Jesus. God has worked out some amazing things in his life, even to the point of a judge expunging his record. Just last week, the pistol-whipping drunk wife beater has asked another Christian man to begin discipling him.
EXPLANATION – Open your Bibles or your Bible app to Luke 5:27-32 (page 861 in pew Bible).
We are continuing w/ our “Who’s Your 1?” series, & in this passage, we find Jesus again interacting w/ an individual.
- 2 weeks ago – 1 leper
- Last week – 1 paralyzed friend
- Today – 1 tax collector
Luke’s account of the calling of Levi is the same as Matthew’s account of the calling of Matthew (Matt. 9:9), the tax collector. Mark also wrote about this event in Mark & used the name Levi. All of the lists of disciples in the Gospels & in the book of Acts have Matthew listed. So, it may be that Matthew had 2 names as was common w/ first-century Jews. Or Jesus may have changed his name from Levi to Matthew once he called him to be His disciple, like He changed Peter’s name. Either way, Levi & Matthew are the same person – a Jewish tax collector. And this 1 tax collector had a life-changing encounter w/ Jesus.
Tax collectors were not liked at all in NT times (not that they are today either!). These were Jewish men would collect tax money for the Roman government. There’s another well-known tax collector who had an encounter w/ Jesus – a vertically challenged man named Zacchaeus (Luke 19).
Since the tax rates were not always clear, a dishonest tax collector could & would collect more money than necessary & pocket the extra income. The Roman gov’t didn’t care just as long as they got their tax money. There’s no direct indication that Matthew was dishonest or crooked, but he would still be viewed in a very negative light b/c he associated with & worked for the Romans. Considered a collaborator w/ the enemy – a traitor to his own people. This is the 1 tax collector who met Jesus this day. It’s a beautiful story of life change!
APPLICATION – You know when someone tells you something that is just hard to believe, you ask questions to get clarification. That’s what I want us to do as we look at this passage today, b/c from the perspective of those who were eyewitnesses to what transpired here, it was pretty hard to believe.
“HE SAVED WHO?” – I’m sure there were some people there that day who asked this question. “He saved who?” “Does He know who Levi is? Does He know what Levi does?” It’s true. Jesus saved Levi/Matthew – the disliked, traitor tax collector, who may have been a horrible man, dishonest, a cheating crook, a thief, an extortionist, a jerk & a punk! When Jesus said to Matthew, “Follow me,” it was a call to salvation, not a call to some deeper level of commitment or a rededication decision. It was the call to turn away from his life of sin & turn his life over the Jesus Christ as his Savior & Lord.
Truth of the matter is that EVERY person who gets saved is a traitor, a thief, & a jerk who is worthy of nothing else except hell. Even the cutest little kid who gets saved at Bible School & does a cannonball into the baptistery is still an evil, sinful enemy of God who deserves to go to hell. We tend to rank the badness of people before they get saved. Those who were, in OUR opinion, “really bad sinners” have a better testimony than those who, in OUR opinion, weren’t all that bad, but were nice folks who grew up in the church & their salvation is just the natural next step in their lives.
- The clean-cut straight-A student who will get saved next month at our DNow is just as lost as the murderer who guns someone down in cold blood in inner city Jackson.
- The wonderful wife who loves her husband & kids & accepts Christ here on a Sunday morning is just as lost as the lesbian who is married to another woman & they’ve adopted a child.