Summary: During this series we will look at seven people who came in contact with Jesus, met the penetrating eyes of Jesus, responded to the offer of Jesus, and were made new by the transforming power of Jesus. Matthew the tax collector saw his sin debt paid in fu
INTRODUCTION TO SERIES AND SERMON (from pulpit)
False gods – the gods people make up – despise sinners. But the one true God loves sinners (Manning, Ragamuffin Gospel, 22).
Brennan Manning, author of The Ragamuffin Gospel says, “Whatever our failings may be, we need not lower our eyes in the presence of Jesus. . . .[W]e need not hide all that is ugly and repulsive in us. Jesus comes not for the super-spiritual but for the wobbly and weak kneed who know they don’t have it all together, and who are not too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace. As we glance up, we are astonished to find the eyes of Jesus open with wonder, deep with understanding, and gentle with compassion” (30).
It is those eyes that God wants us to peer into in the coming weeks as we go through this new message series, Made Up Mess Ups. Those same eyes filled with understanding and compassion are also full of hope and promise. Jesus sees us as we can be not as we are. He doesn’t want us to remain stuck in sin. No matter how messed up our life is, he wants to give us new and abundant life in Him. He wants to make up our mess ups.
During this series we will look at seven people who came in contact with Jesus, met the penetrating eyes of Jesus, responded to the offer of Jesus, and were made new by the transforming power of Jesus. They were not suddenly sinless after they followed Jesus. In fact, some of them messed up again. But their life was totally transformed once they followed Jesus. From Christ, they experienced grace, found salvation, and were given purpose. They were never the same after responding to the call of Jesus, and what they became was far better than what they had been. A Russian proverb says, “Those who have the disease of Jesus will never be cured” (Manning, 189). That’s what happened to the seven made up mess ups we will encounter in this series.
This morning we begin with Matthew the tax collector turned gospel writer. I will share Matthew’s story as a monologue. To help you follow Matthew’s story, I have included an outline with scripture passages in the notes section of the bulletin. I encourage you to follow in your Bible as much as you can. Naturally, in a monologue I have to use a bit of educated creative license to connect the dots. What I will share that is not in the Bible are thoughts, words, scenes, events that are possible or probable.
With that disclaimer, I invite you to experience the life of Matthew today. Discover that when Jesus makes up your mess ups, you become a new person. But, interestingly enough, God often uses your past experiences to His benefit.
May we pray together: sing with me as your prayer, “Amazing Grace” (Move to tax collector table set up stage right while praying)
Monologue Scene #1: Matthew the Tax Collector
(Writing) Debts, debts, debts! Will these people ever pay up? So many people in this city owe taxes. I know! I’ll just go get them. (go into congregation, be a bit hostile, get real money. Look at what they owe, think a moment, do a little mental calculating, then say a price, maybe dicker if they don’t have it. “You think I’m kidding? Pay up” – return to table).
Now, let’s see. That’s __ for King Herod Antipas – his majesty must collect the taxes for Rome. Each year he has to deliver a lump sum to Rome. But King Herod Antipas cannot collect all those taxes on his own, so he’s gathered a large workforce of tax collectors like me to do the work for him. Can I just say – I love this job? You see, that’s ___ for King Herod and __ for me. That poor fellow only owed $10 but I said $20, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him, but it sure will help me!
Do you think it’s wrong? Well, you can go sulk with the rest of our Jewish brethren. They can’t stand the fact that I, a Jew, could be involved in such a “vile” profession. “Roman sympathizer” some say. “Traitor!” others cry. “How can you, one of the Lord’s people aid the invader?” “How can you deal with the filthy Gentiles? How can you work on the Sabbath?” I’ll tell you, no show you how – it’s quite lucrative! Show me the money!
Oh, I know where the religious folks think I stand – right there with the prostitutes – a worthless piece of dung. They don’t allow me to worship, they don’t allow me in the synagogues. I’m not good enough. I’m vile. They ostracize me. The neighborhood lamb roasts? Never invited. Barmitzphas? Forget it. The religious people avoid me like a rotten corpse. I’m vile, sinful, unclean! And I suppose I am, but it’s my lot in life. It’s where I am. The money is good. But life? What do you mean life? This is the life – isn’t it? It doesn’t get any better than this (confident to slight ? in statement)