Summary: What would it be like to sit down with Jesus one on one? Matthew does just that.
Sinner at a Booth
Series: One on One with the Master
February 14, 2010
READ Luke 5:27-39 (NIV)
Well, so far we’ve talked about a Nic at Night, a woman at a well and last week a man on a mat…all people who had a one on one encounter with Jesus that changed their lives for eternity! This morning we’re going to look at the last one- on-one meeting with the Master…a sinner at a booth. More than any other meeting… this one really underlines the differences between us and Jesus. In fact, as we go through this passage this morning I want you to see 4 distinct comparisons the Bible makes between us and Jesus….
The 1st one is that fact that...
1. He is the SAVIOR…we are the SINNERS
Marks gospel refers to him as “Levi, the son of Alphaeus”… but you might know him as simply… MATTHEW. Like we said last week, 3 of the gospels (Mt., Mk, & Luke) all record the story of the paralytic and the forgiveness and healing he received… but they ALSO tell us that right after this came the conversion and calling of Matthew. Luke 5:27 says that, “Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax-collection booth.” Levi (or Matthew) didn’t know it yet, but eventually he would not only become one of the 12 disciples, but would have the privilege of writing one of the books of the bible! A book named after him! I think this underscores (as least for me) that you can’t predict how God’s going to use you, once you allow Him to take control of your life!
Remember this!!! Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future! But, I’m getting ahead of myself! Matt definitely had a past, because before all of this, He was one of the most hated, despicable men in all of Galilee! If anyone was ever considered to be a “sinner”… this guy certainly fit the bill!
As a tax collector (or publican as they called him) Matthew was a willing tool of the Roman government. The Romans collected their taxes through a system called “tax farming.” In otherwords, they would assess a district a for a certain amount of taxes, and then they’d sell the rights to collect those taxes to the highest bidder. The buyer had to pay the Roman Government the assessed figure at the end of the year, BUT… they were allowed to keep anything they could squeeze out of peope above and beyond that amount! Do you smell a skunk here?
It was a system that guaranteed corruption! In fact the Roman Government looked the other way while these guys made themselves rich by skinning people alive! There were all kinds of taxes…there was a tax for travelling on roads, a tax to cross bridges, a tax to enter a market place or a harbor… there was a tax on pack animals, a tax on the amount of wheels or axles on a cart… a tax-collector was even allowed to open private letters to see if business was being conducted. If it was…he could tax that too! (Kind of sounds like our tax system, huh?) To make things even worse… there were no limits to the amounts He could charge!
Now as if that wasn’t bad enough… by buying into the Roman system, Matthew became a traitor to Israel. He’d essentially hired on to the very people who were oppressing his own people! So you can begin to understand why a guy like Matthew was so hated. In fact, Tax collectors were so despised that they weren’t allowed to serve as witnesses in court and were excommunicated from the synagogues. I was thinking as I was studying about this…how did a person end up in a profession like this? And then I thought… how do ANY of us end up where we are?
* I would imagine in Matthew’s case it might have been greed. You start out getting into a business to survive, and before long you realize you can make more money than you ever thought possible if you cut a few corners, maybe tell a few white lies…compromise a few morals, cross a few lines. And before long you’re in over your head, but you don’t want to give up the income.
* Maybe we start out in highschool hanging out with the only people who seem to accept us. The next thing we know we’re going to parties…drinking, drugging. It seems like a lot of fun at first, but while our friends grow out of it, (go onto college and get a degree)… we keep drinking or abusing drugs and before long we’re hooked into a lifestyle we can’t seem to escape.