Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
Who is the last person you want to see in heaven? A terrorist? The pompous boss who derailed your career? A person who hurt a family member? The ex-spouse who walked away to leave you working two jobs in order to provide for your children? If you were a Jew in Jesus’ day, the last person you would want to see in heaven was a tax collector. Those two words would make your blood boil.
Tax collectors were collaborators in cahoots with Rome. They were thieves, robbers and extortionists who lived the high life with the hard earned money of others. It is difficult for us to imagine the intense emotion of hatred that Jews had for these traitors who had sold out to the Roman government. The names “tax collector” and “sinner” were used interchangeably and uttered with disgust.
Despite that reputation, Jesus looked right at Matthew, the hated tax collector, and said, “Follow me.” Can you imagine? Jesus recruited a tax collector as one of His disciples! In doing so He taught us an important lesson: God’s mercy, through Jesus, pardons the greatest sin. God’s grace, through Jesus, satisfies the greatest sinner. Thank God that His mercy and grace extends to you.
Father, I do thank You that through Your grace You have provided me the great gift of salvation and through Your mercy You have held back what I really deserve. Thank You for the grace and mercy that is mine through the work of Jesus. I pray in His name. Amen.
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