June 20-22, 2020
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Matthew 9:9-13
Happy Fathers’ Day!
1. Like Father…
2. Like Son…
3. Like You!
Matthew 9:9-13 (EHV) “As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting in the tax collector’s booth. He said to him, “Follow me.” Matthew got up and followed him. 10As Jesus was reclining at the table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were actually there too, eating with Jesus and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “The healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. 13Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ In fact, I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Happy Father’s Day! To all of you who are fathers and all of you thinking of your fathers. My heartfelt sorrow for any of you who have had difficult relationships with your fathers. God did not intend that to be that way. As a Christian father I have to admit feeling a bit of pressure, pressure to not mess up God’s picture. Think about it. God could have chosen any title to define Himself and help us understand who He is to us but the one He chose is Father. “When you pray,” Jesus said, “Say Our Father in heaven.” Think of the parable of the extremely outrageously impossibly loving Father which most know as the parable of the Prodigal Son. That is how God wants us to think of him and if I, as a father, am a lousy father, an unloving father, a selfish father, I am responsible for destroying the picture God wants to use to have my children view Him. That’s heavy stuff. Fathers, we have a high responsibility.
God is not just our Father in heaven, He is also Jesus’ father and there is something that our collective father in heaven wants us to learn today from the portion of God’s Word that I read to you. It began with Jesus calling a man named Matthew to follow Him. Matthew is identified as a tax collector. Now if we were back in Jesus’ day and I said the phrase tax collector all of you would start to boo and hiss. Let’s practice. Tax collector. Now why would you do that? Because tax collectors blatantly stole from their own people. They were Jewish men working for the Roman government that had conquered your country and used that threat of Roman force to extort money from their own people. They got rich abusing their fellow citizens. Now that is wrong and sinful and so most of the time tax collectors were excommunicated from their churches. It’s the right thing to do to try to help someone repent when they are not doing so. One big problem though. When tax collectors repented they weren’t welcomed back. And yet Jesus called this tax collector to be one of his disciples who would become an Apostle!
As you heard Matthew immediately left his life of tax collecting and followed Jesus. Clearly he was thrilled that Jesus would accept him so he thought of other people like himself, people who would never again be welcome in the Jewish church. He invited them to a meal with Jesus. There were more tax collectors and “sinners.” When it’s said like that in the Bible it means people whose known sins made them undesirable. We don’t have a lot of stigma with sin in our country anymore so it’s hard to come up with something similar other than a known prostitute or maybe a drug dealer. Matthew wanted others to know Jesus.
That’s when the Pharisees, (now in our day that’s who we boo and hiss for) when they saw this they asked Jesus’ disciples a really good question. “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” So often people focus on what others do or say. The Pharisees (boo, hiss!) wanted to know why. Why would Jesus eat, associate, with people who everyone knew had sinned so badly they were put out of their synagogues? Great question. Better answer. “When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “The healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. 13Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ In fact, I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Now since you are all paying such close attention you are connecting the dots. Jesus just quoted what you heard in the Old Testament reading from Hosea. Jesus was reminding these people who knew their Old Testament what the Father was like. Merciful. He’s the one who, when Adam and Eve spit in His face after all He had done for them, did not wipe them away but promised a Savior. He’s the one who when Cain killed his brother Abel instead of immediately taking his life gave Cain lasting consequences to call him to repentance. He’s the one who put up the with the grumbling and complaining Israelites over and over again. Why? Mercy! While many people get impressed when God shows His power in destroying and punishing that is not what God wants. He only does so when people force Him to. What He wants is every sinner to repent. Every sinner forgiven. Every sinner with Him in heaven. That’s the Father.
And like Father, like Son. That’s the answer to the Pharisees’ question “Why.” Why did Jesus eat with tax collectors and sinners? He’s like the Father. He desires everyone to recognize their sin, despair of ever having God’s love and forgiveness and then He delights in giving what you don’t deserve. Forgiveness. Mercy. Jesus mission was not to stop all prostitution and stealing by tax collectors. He was the Father’s mercy in action. Just think, as Jesus looked around that table He knew all their sins and He knew He would be punished for every bit of greed, lust stealing and adultery. He would do that because His Father was merciful. And so was He even though it meant He would suffer. And He was willing to do that because He knew He would win some souls for God. We don’t know because we haven’t been told but likely not everyone around that table repented. Some may just have been curious. Some may have liked their sinning and had no intention of stopping and saw no need for Jesus as their Savior. But some would be like Matthew who left everything, left his old life behind and in faith followed Jesus.
And in faith acted like Jesus, showing mercy, wanting all souls to be saved. Like Father, like Son, like Matthew, like the Apostle Paul. You can tell, can’t you, why the reading from 1 Timothy was put with the other readings today? It shows us how someone we think of as one of the greatest Christians ever got that way. He realized how badly he needed mercy. And having received mercy he wanted others to get the same. Do you?
This part of God’s word demands a response for us. When Jesus said “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners” you have to self identify. Do I think Jesus is for me? Then I have to admit I am not righteous. I am a sinner. I’m not sure how the Pharisees responded but I’m guessing they identified themselves as the righteous, at least in their eyes. They didn’t need Jesus and if they stayed that way they didn’t get Him. They died and faced Jesus’ Father as rejecters of Jesus forcing Him to send them to Hell. If I, like they, am better at seeing other people’s sins than my own, if I am more bothered by other people’s sins than my own, then Jesus didn’t need to come for me. But if I, like Matthew and Paul, realize my wretchedness and am overwhelmed that Jesus would actually want a person like me then it will be like Father, like Son, like you and me.
Those who have received mercy want others to get it too. Listen, let’s be honest. We all have skeletons in our closets. We all have things we are ashamed of. Jesus paid for them all. In full. He wants you. He wants me. Now let’s want that for others. Do you have a family members, an acquaintance, someone who’s hurt you that you don’t want in heaven? Repent. God desires mercy. And you know, it’s not just fathers that can give God the Father a bad name. Every Christian can do that for Jesus. Our country is polarized on many issues. It gets easy to see people as enemies rather than the Devil. He is the enemy. Hell is for him. People we want saved. All people. Does the way we talk about all people show we want them saved? Are we careful with what and how we post things on social media which can be so easily misunderstood and taken out of context? Do our words and actions say “Why would Jesus want someone like you?” or “Why does Jesus want someone like me?” He desires mercy. Like Father. Like Son. Now like you. Amen.