Summary: Jesus was not afraid to reach out to the "outcasts" of His society. When He did, important truths were revealed that we need to know.
"When Jesus Interrupts the Outcast"
Have you ever felt like an outcast? Some people are rejected by people because of their race, color, or background. Some are rejected for their beliefs. Some rejected because of behavior. You can be poor or rich, powerless or powerful and be an outcast in society. How did Jesus deal with the outcasts of His day? From Jesus’ example, we learn that:
I. MANY PEOPLE YEARN TO BE CHALLENGED (5:27-28).
A. Matthew (Levi) was a "tax-collector," otherwise referred to as a "publican." Matthew probably worked where a booth was set up to receive a tarriff on any merchandise that passed along the international highway between Syria and Egypt.
B. The tax-collectors of Jesus’ day were known to be dishonest, like vultures taking advantage of their own people. Tax-buyers or "farmers" paid a fixed sum to the Roman Government for the right to levy taxes on imports. They in turn would sublet their rights to "chief publicans" who then employed "publicans." This elaborate system exacted huge sums and the tax-collectors were considered to be traitors by their people.
C. Jesus challenged Matthew to a total change of life.
D. Matthew’s life was not fulfilling. He was wealthy and had a position that affored him the opportunity to take advantage of others. But he left everything to follow Jesus.
E. Don’t assume that people are happy just because they have power, money or position. Jesus Christ challenges you to a new life, a life that brings true joy and satisfaction.
II. JESUS DID NOT WORRY ABOUT HIS IMAGE (5:29).
A. Levi (Matthew) was so happy with his new calling that he threw a party!
B. Jesus was there along with the "tax-collectors and others", unworthy people in the eyes of the community.
C. Jesus did not worry about what others thought. His decisions were not made based on what public opinion dictated. He put the needs of people first. So should we!
III. THERE ARE ALWAYS THOSE THAT WILL CRITICIZE (5:30).
A. The Pharisees were appalled at Jesus! They had set down a rule that said, "The disciples of the learned shall not recline at table in the company of the people of the soil (rabble, contaminated ones). Jesus was now ceremonially unclean in the eyes of the religious leaders of His day.
B. Here we learn that no matter your desire to serve with good intentions, someone will be there to criticize. You can give up trying to serve and be paralyzed by fear of criticism, or you can be like Jesus and do what is right, trusting that God understands and knows your heart.
C. When you receive criticism, consider the nature of it. Is it coming from genuine concern based on facts, or from a sick and hurtful spirit?
IV. JESUS CAME TO BRING HEALING TO ALL (5:31-32).
A. Jesus came to heal and save sinners--people in need!
B. Those that are self-righteous will not find Jesus’ help until they admit their own sinfulness and need.
C. No one is out of Jesus’ reach as long as they are willing to admit their need for Him.
Jesus loves you. You may feel like an outcast today. Jesus is challenging you to allow Him to give you a new life! He is challenging believers to go to the outcasts, rich and poor, and challenge them to a life worth living. When Jesus interrupts the outcast, everything changes!