Tag: tax collectors

Understanding Jesus’ Purpose

Scripture reading for January 4th: Genesis 3-5, Mark 2

Mark 2:14-17 “And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he rose and followed Him. And as He reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and His disciples, for there were many who followed Him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that He was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, “Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.””

When Jesus called Levi, (Matthew) the tax collector, He caught the attention of the religious establishment. Jewish tax collectors were the lowest of the low in their eyes and the worst of sinners because they made their living collecting money from their own people. But Jesus saw not a sinner, but a valuable team member who would follow Him and find new purpose and provision. When the scribes of the Pharisees asked why Jesus would eat with the tax collectors and known ‘sinners’, Jesus spoke up directly and set them straight. God’s purpose was to heal the hurting, the broken and known sinners. His purpose was to call “sinners” out of their sinful lifestyle and lost state and invite them into His kingdom. Jesus would teach them who they were and help them find noble purpose and the abundant life. As Levi accepted the invitation, he invited his friends to come and dine, already beginning to find new purpose and joy in fishing for men!

Prayer: Father God, thank You for inviting me, a sinner, to join You in Your purpose of seeking and saving the lost. You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ to seek out sinners and clothe them with Christ’s righteousness. Forgive me for hiding from Your purposes and failing to see sinners through Your eyes. Fill me with a renewed understanding of Your purpose in each moment of today. Help me to be present in Your Presence to truly help those still hiding from You.

Genesis 3:7-9 “Then the eyes of both (Adam and Eve) were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?””

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“Where are you?”

Scripture reading:  Genesis 3-5, Mark 2

Key Scriptures:  Genesis 3:7-9  “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.  And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.  And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 

When the first man and woman sinned by disobeying God’s word, God took the initiative and went looking for them in the garden.  He called out to them, not because He didn’t know where they were or why they were hiding. He exchanged their fig leaves for bloody skins.   Similarly, Jesus Christ sought out lost children of God and called them to Himself, that they might be with Him and learn God’s heart for those caught in Satan’s snare!  Through Jesus’ blood covering, all who responded would be healed from sin’s grip.

Mark 2:16-17  “And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that He was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to the disciples, “Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  And when Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” 

Faith Confession and prayer:  Lord, Here I am!  I have strayed from You but through the call of Jesus Christ, I am now following the path of a disciple and learning Your ways.  Send me out today in the power of Your Spirit to preach the Good News and call the lost home to You.

 

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Does God love the IRS?

Scripture reading for January 10th: Matthew 9:1-17, Psalm 7:10-17, Proverbs 2:16-19

Have you ever been audited by the IRS?  Did your IRS agent invite you over to his or her house?    Jesus came by Matthew’s tax collection booth and called him to follow.  Matthew responded by leaving and following Him.   He invited Jesus to come over to his house and Jesus came and ate and laughed with Matthew’s “sinner” friends, causing quite a stir among the religious community!

“When the Pharisees saw this, they asked the disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  On hearing this Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:11-13)   Jesus loved all men, but He could only bring health to those who realized that they were sick.  Those who could not admit that they needed a doctor would not find healing.  Likewise, those who could not confess sin would not find repentance.

This is the danger of religion.  Religion reduces our righteousness or spiritual health to some man-made rules that we try to keep.  We are told that if we just do this or confess to that, all will be well with our soul.  The Pharisees of Jesus’ day meticulously tried to keep God’s law and judged those who did not do all that they had commanded.  Their pride in their religious good works blinded them to their need to confess and repent from their own sins.  (1st John 1:9)

Our Father sent Jesus to walk and live among His people, demonstrating His love and desire that all would repent and be made righteous.  Our righteousness is a gift of God by grace through faith in Jesus, not the result of our keeping His laws or man’s religious rules.   (Ephesians 2:8-10)  Jesus loves all sinners, even tax collectors like Matthew!  Responding to Jesus by repentance and faith leads to following Jesus and eternal life!  Praise the Lord for His mercy!   Thank God Jesus loved sinners enough to call them to follow Him and them eat and laugh with them!   May we show Christ’s love to the  lost and hurting people we come in contact with each day!

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