Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Gift of God

Somewhere between Mark 2:14 and Mark 3:18, Jesus changes the name of Levi the tax collector to Matthew. Why would this be of interest to you? Well, as they say, it’s all in the name.

A news flash has just arrived and it appears that no one in the history of the world has ever enjoyed paying their taxes! In Jesus’ day, most tax collectors were known to be scoundrels. The taxation system in Rome was fairly loose, so as long as the tax collector could keep Caesar happy, he could get as much as he could from the citizens under his authority. Even the hypocritical Pharisees labeled tax collectors as sinners and would not allow them to enter the temple courts.

Jesus approached these sinners, though. Not only did He approach them, but He called one of them, Levi, to be one of His closest followers. And, even more than this He changed his name from Levi to Matthew, which means “a gift of God”, using this former tax collector to write the Gospel we read first in the New Testament.

What a change in direction!

We should learn that the message of Christ is for sinners. That is you and me…and even the person around you that is most despised by co-workers or other family members. Jesus saw potential in this sinner. Do you see potential in the sinners around you? You should. That sight should even motivate you to share Jesus’ call of following Him to them.

Maybe Jesus could relate to Matthew’s rejection. Not in relation to Matthew’s sin, but in the sense that Jesus was also considered an outcast by society around him. After all, Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would have, “…no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2)

I know my heart. I am amazed that God sees potential in me. I am so thankful that He moved someone into place to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with me. I am so humbled that God saved me. What about you? Shouldn’t our thankfulness, then, drive us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with someone that is considered unsightly by the world and the “religious”? Seems to me that your conversation would bring much glory to a gracious Savior!

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