Summary: This is the third in a series of sermons on the disciples using Donald Trump’s "Apprentice" series in contrast to Jesus’ approach of selection. This message focuses on Matthew and that God chooses "Sold Out" people to redeem for His Kingdom.(Drama also av
Jesus began His earthly mission with a search for a team of apprentices, of high level leaders who would form his inner circle and take on the leadership of building His Kingdom after he completed His mission here on earth.
As was depicted in the drama sketch, the men Jesus chose were not the type of people who would rise to the top of an “Apprentice” series to be selected by Donald Trump. Jesus was choosing a team to join Him in building a Kingdom here on earth that would alter the course of human history and stand forever. To find the right people for such a grand venture it’s surprising that Jesus didn’t go to Rome and recruit some of the powerful people that surrounded Caesar. Or that He didn’t go to Athens and engage in philosophical dialogue with the leading thinkers of the day.
But He didn’t appeal to the powerful, the brilliant, the rich, the famous, or the popular. As we saw in the first two weeks of this series He chose people like Andrew = Ordinary. Ordinary people with ordinary jobs such as fishermen. Ordinary people who didn’t have extraordinary gifts, or talents, or abilities. And He chose people like Philip = Practical. Practical people who approached life with their feet firmly planted in the real world. Who wouldn’t be swept away by the next religious leader who comes along. Practical people who have practical questions and practical concerns that need to be answered before they can step out in faith.
This morning we want to look at another one of the 12 disciples (or apprentices), that Jesus selected in order to understand further the type of person He chooses. We are going to look at Matthew. If the key word for Andrew is ordinary and for Philip is practical, the key words for Matthew are Sold out
We meet Matthew in Luke 5:27 where we read (27a)
You all know about Levi the disciple right? It was Levi along with the other disciple Strauss who founded the famous jeans company…No Levi is the Hebrew name of the disciple we know as Matthew. Matthew had a Hebrew and a Greek name. This was not unusual for Jews living in the Roman Empire with Greek as the language of the day. We see this in a number of people in the New Testament like Paul who also known as Saul.
If you interviewed any Jew on the street from Matthew’s town of Capernaum they would tell you what Matthew was like. He was well educated and rather wealthy, but he was a social outcast and despised by the people because he had SOLD OUT. Sold out to the god of money. He was despised by the Jews because he had SOLD OUT to the Romans.
Capernaum at that time had a growing population of Jews and a thriving fishing industry along the Sea of Galilee. A custom house was established by the Romans to exact taxes from the people of this region. And Matthew was the tax collector. He worked along the main international highway from Damascus through Capernaum to the Mediterranean Coast and all the way down to Egypt.
As a tax collector the Romans gave Matthew the authority to set and collect taxes. He paid a sum of money for this privilege. He was then able to recoup his investment by collecting taxes from his fellow countrymen. And the more he collected the more profit he would make. He set up his booth along the main thoroughfare and could tax you on all sorts of things. He could tax you on how many axles were on your wagon, or how much baggage you were carrying, or even how much money or the amount of goods you were carrying. And he enforced payment by using the threat of force by the Roman army.
We meet him here at his tax booth maybe it’s at the end of the day when he’s getting ready to close up. It’s been another good day. In one sense he had it made—a secure job, financial security, wealth and all the privileges that come with it—a comfortable home, nice clothes, the finest of foods and entertainment at his disposal. So Matthew is going over the figures in his head. Calculating how many years it will take him at this pace to have enough money to walk away from the booth, financially secure, begin to travel and enjoy the fruits of his labor.
But there was another voice inside and a knot in his stomach that he couldn’t ignore. Once again he had endured the icy cold glares, the angry accusations and judgments muttered under their breath by his fellow Jews. He was despised by them and it is easy why. He was seen as someone who had turned his back on his people, SOLD OUT to the Romans. And he was doing work that the Romans considered to be too demeaning to dirty their own hands. He was an outcast banished from the synagogue and the temple. No self-respecting Jew would even sit down at the same table with him.