Potential for God’s Kingdom – by Ritchie Way

Apr 4, 2016 1526

Heavens-open-God-speaks

Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him. and Matthew got up and followed him. 

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his 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’ [Hosea 6:6]. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. (Matt. 9: 9-13)

In that time, tax collectors were greatly despised by Jews because the taxes they collected from them were given to their Roman overlords who occupied their country. If that wasn’t bad enough, the tax collectors would add to each person’s tax a portion that would go into their own pockets. That is why tax collectors were put into the same class as sinners such as prostitutes. The phrase, “Tax collectors and sinners,” identified those who were believed to be outside God’s kingdom, whereas the Pharisees considered that only those who observed the law as they did, were citizens of the kingdom of heaven. The Pharisees would never be seen eating with tax collector or sinners; for they didn’t want to give credibility to the evil things they did.

But when Jesus came to town, he saw in Matthew someone with potential for God’s kingdom. He did not overlook the bad things Matthew was doing, but knew that if he was accepted as a son of God, his life would be transformed. What a lesson for us.

The religious leaders immediately pounced on Jesus for associating with such a ‘scum-bag’.  Jesus told them straight that God desires mercy more than the sacrifices people make to be ‘perfect.’  In other words, God is much more interested in the way you treat and accept others, than he is in your so-called righteous living. 

Matthew, who became one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, and who wrote the first book of the New Testament, gave evidence of his evangelistic drive, by calling his fellow tax collectors and other sinners together so he could introduce them to Jesus. And what better inducement could he provide than a splendid feast in his house.

We can learn from his example. If the sacrifice he made resulted in the in the salvation of just a small percentage of his guests, and just one of those guests became an evangelist for Jesus, then that would be treasure in heaven for Matthew.

– Ritchie Way

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