Summary: To urge people to deliberately begin to love and to associate with at least one lost person for the purpose of unapologetically inviting them to answer Jesus’ call to repent
I want to begin this morning by showing a deeply moving and theologically packed video clip that not only is animated and frivolous, but also 3 months too early in the year. But, this does help introduce a certain character we’re going to learn from this morning.
(Show clip from “The Toy that Saved Christmas”)
Amazing, isn’t it, how even a kind-hearted cucumber who would allow a bank robber and a Viking to come into his house doesn’t have 2 words for the man from the IRS!
Opinions of taxes and the people who help collect them haven’t changed much over the centuries.
In Jesus’ day, the men who collected taxes were not only collecting taxes, but were collecting them for the Roman government from Jews who had been forced into subjection. Not only were they for Rome, but they were exorbitant, and the men who collected them made them more exorbitant. Tax collectors got their position by being the highest bidder – they were sell outs to the bad guys.
This morning, we read not only about the change in the life of one of these men, but we read it from his pen. Levi, or Matthew, the son of Alpheus, went on to become the writer of one of the most often read books of the whole Bible. He left his business to become something better.
Ill - Imagine with me this morning being part of a business where not everyone was sure what the business was doing. The janitor thinks they’re a cleaning business. The secretary thinks they’re a public relations business. The book keepers think they’re an accounting firm. And somewhere, off in an office, is a CEO who thinks they’re a manufacturing factory!
If you were to ask anyone in that company, “How’s business?” the answer would all depend on their perception of what their business is supposed to be.
If the floors were clean, and everything well dusted, the janitor might say “Great!” even though they were posting a loss that year. If the secretary had a bad day, and the phone had her too busy, and she was frazzled, she might say, “Not so good” even though production was up that week.
It would all depend on the question: What’s your business?
When we start asking “How’s business?” in the Church, you’ll get a variety of answers. It depends on each person’s idea of what the church’s business is.
We need to be asking “How’s business?” in the church. I want us to do both this morning. One thing that will help us is our vision statement. Another is what Jesus made His business. I’m convinced that the business of the church follows closely behind that of Jesus.
So, let’s ask Him today: What’s your business? What would he say?
Jesus, what’s your business?
I. To Call People to Follow Me
(Matthew 9:9) As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
This is now the 2nd time we read about Jesus calling people to radical action – to leave their livelihood and follow Him. And once again, the gospel writers all 3 help us to see the immediate response. It was Jesus’ business to call people to follow Him.
If we’re interested in carrying on Jesus’ business, we should make that our business now.
1. We should call them from where they are (without apology)
Mt may not have seemed a very likely prospect. Most good people couldn’t stand to be around him. But Jesus knew that Mt needed to be called from his lifestyle to follow Him. And Jesus didn’t apologize for asking him to leave it.
Ill – Up around Schell City, MO, on the Osage River, there are different ways people go catfishing. Some ways are more passive than others. Jug lines involve taking a milk jug and tying a line just below it. Fish comes along, swallows the bait, and can’t go down to get away. The guy who sets the jug line just goes around in a boat and picks them out of the water. Another passive way is called a trotline, where a long line with a bunch of hooks is left in the water and picked up later. Another way is the limb line, where a line is tied off on a tree limb somewhere along the bank. People who fish this way just have to come along and check their lines to see if they’ve caught anything.
Remember, when Jesus called the 4 fishermen to become fishermen for men? Fishing for men isn’t done with jug lines or trot lines! It means going where they are. That’s what Jesus was doing on this day. When Jesus issued the great commission, He assumed we’d go into the world. In other words, if we’re not in some way invading or infiltrating the ranks of the world with the love of Jesus, we’re not carrying out the commission of Jesus!