Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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19. Matthew – Student of Sin or the Savior? – Part 2

Matthew 9:9-13

9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So, Matthew got up and followed him. 10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum? ”12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

It’s here in the midst of the call that we see Matthews:

  • CONDITION VS 9 & 13

Just another ordinary day for Matthew sitting at his tax booth, outwardly this seems simple enough, but this was a despised lifestyle. He was a tax collector hired by the Roman occupiers, the tax collector purchased his position for a price and was authorized to collect a certain total of taxes each year. Jews regarded tax collectors as traitors to Israel and to their religion. They were considered equal to the lowest in society, the thieves and murderers. They were not welcome in the local synagogue and were regarded as cheats and liars, so much so that their testimony was not allowed in court. Matthew when recording the moment Jesus called him does not shy away from telling us what he did for a living. Jesus SAW him SITTING, going nowhere, He saw a life that was being wasted. Jesus saw a man…a human being…Jesus saw his heart, his mind, his thoughts, his hurt, his pain, his loneliness, his lack of meaning and purpose in life and Jesus went to him. Within the core of every person’s life is a little bit of hell… “for all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.”…. Jim Baaker was indicted for fraud in 1988 and sentenced to 45 years in prison and fined $500,000. When the scandal broke, Baaker’s Christian friends quickly deserted him. He became an outcast in the Christian world. And when he was sentenced, his wife Tammy Faye left him and then divorced him. Jim Bakker was asked in an interview while in prison… Who was the biggest surprise visitor you had in prison? He responded, Billy Graham was the biggest surprise because he is such a busy man. A few days before he arrived he had been voted the most respected man in the world. I heard that on my little radio in prison. He came just a few days before I found out that my wife was divorcing me. So, I think it was God preparing me for that moment. When he came to visit me, I had the flu. I looked like a man who had slept under a bridge. My hair was a mess and I had my old toilet-cleaning clothes on. My toes were sticking out of my shoes. I had just finished cleaning the toilets, and the guards came to get me. One of the guards led me across the compound, and I thought he was taking me to the lieutenant’s office. I thought maybe I was in trouble. But then they said, “Didn’t they tell you, Billy Graham is here to see you.” So, I walked into the room and he had his arms outstretched and he embraced me and told me he loved me. We sat and talked, and when he prayed everyone else in the room prayed. When you feel like you’re worthless, and then somebody like that comes, it’s really shocking. As soon as I was released from prison, Ruth Graham called the Salvation Army halfway house where I was and asked permission for me to go to church with her that Sunday morning. When I got there, the pastor welcomed me and sat me with the Graham clan—two whole rows of them. I’d only been out of prison 48 hours. The organ began playing and Ruth walked down the aisle and sat next to inmate 07407-058, telling the world that I was her friend. Afterwards, she had me up to their cabin for dinner. When she asked me for some addresses, I pulled this envelope out of my pocket to look for them. In prison you’re not allowed to have a wallet, so you just carry an envelope. She asked, “Don’t you have a wallet?” And I said, “Well, yeah, this is my wallet.” After five years of brainwashing in prison you think an envelope is a wallet. She walked into the other room, came back, and said, “Here’s one of Billy’s wallets. He doesn’t need it. You can have it.” The Grahams sponsored me, paid for a house for me to live in, and gave me a car to drive. When everyone else saw and treated Jim Bakker as a prisoner the Graham’s treated him as a person. In Verse 13 Jesus says that he didn’t come to call the righteous but sinners. It’s not the righteous that respond but the wretched. The Call is based on the Savior not the sinner. In Jesus day they based the call on people’s condition. That is why the Pharisees were upset that the Savior called sinners. Today some of you are basing the call on your condition and as a result you think you’re not good enough. But we need to be reminded that the call is based on Christ! Jesus came to call sinners He was intentional he sought the sinner, He meets us where we are at. Matthew based his decision to follow on the call not to his condition. What about you are you basing your life on Christ’s call or your condition?