Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Surprise Guest at the Big Bash

Part two in this story series ....


Tax collecting in the Roman Empire took place at city gates, public roads or bridges.

Matt collected his taxes on "The Great Road," which would have stretched between Damascus and seaports of Phoenicia.

And this is where his story begins, because it was while Matt was cooling his heels at his post, extorting money from his countrymen and otherwise creating havoc for rich and poor alike in the name of Rome ... that Someone dropped by and changed his life forever.

Jesus.

Jesus had just finished His own little adventure when He ran into Matt. He'd been going rounds with His enemy rivals, the Pharisees, the religious rulers of Israel who were revered among the Jewish people.

And why? Well, He'd just healed a paralyzed guy and had told this man that his sins were forgiven. The Pharisees didn't like that, because that was equivalent to blasphemy in their eyes. But no one was talking about that. Everyone was talking about how the guy had stood up, tucked his mat under his arm and skipped out praising God.

So in the immediate aftermath of this miracle, Jesus was walking along that "Great Road," and He came across Matt.

Now if you remember from our story yesterday, Matt wasn't the most popular person. As a tax collector, he was no longer welcome at home. He couldn't even give his dirty money at the Temple. And no one with respectable family values could accept his money, even if he'd offered it as a gift.

So Matt hung out with people who would accept him ... you know .... the hookers, the thieves, the drunks, the other tax collectors ....

You know. Society's dregs.

Filth.

So here comes Jesus, the one everyone was praising as the possible Messiah. And Jesus walks up to Matt's little tax collecting post, and plain as day says to him, "Follow me."

You know what Matt did?

He left his life as a tax collector and came right after Jesus.

Not only that ... he threw a big party that night. He invited all of his friends. And guess who was the guest of honor?

You got it.

Jesus.

And this wasn't just a small little group of good buddies. The Gospel writer Luke tells us that Matt "held a great banquet" and "a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them."

SCANDAL!

Now let's rewind back to earlier in our story ... the Pharisees meanwhile, were still pretty steamed at Jesus for not only healing that paralyzed guy and showing them up, but also for taking the added blasphemous step of forgiving that guy's sins.

And they hear about this little soiree.

They waste no time in giving Jesus a piece of their minds, too.

See ... if you had dinner with someone at that time in Israel, you were basically saying that you held their company in high esteem.

This wasn't just like grabbing a quick sandwich at Chick-fil-A.

No ... this was akin to inviting someone over to your house for Thanksgiving dinner with your most respected family members at the table.

So the Pharisees pulled Jesus's disciples aside and confronted them. "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" they demanded.

And this is why I love Jesus so much, because Jesus didn't even flinch or try to pretend that it was a big mistake.

Jesus quipped, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Oh, SNAP.

Did you get that?

He didn't come for the "righteous."

In other words, He basically told the Pharisees to shove off. His peeps were right there with Him at that party.

And as for Matt?

Well, you know him as Matthew, the writer of the first Gospel in  your Bible, and one of Jesus's 12 disciples.

Now what does this have to do with Chick-fil-A and the gay community? And what can we also learn from Matt's decision to follow Jesus?

Tune in for the conclusion of the story.

1 comment:

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