Jesus and the Tax Man ~ blog
Do you like paying your taxes? Most of us would say no. Approximately 30% or more of our income goes to the federal, state and local tax collectors. We do appreciate the services that paying these taxes gives us but who would not be happy with getting a tax break?
Probably the most hated people in the time of Jesus were the tax collectors. They were seen as traitors and thieves. They collected taxes for Rome and could charge other taxes as they deemed fit. They threatened people by charging them with smuggling goods to escape paying the taxes and used this to extort hush money.
So, it was shocking to the followers of Jesus to see him walk over and start talking with the tax collector named Levi, also known as Matthew, as he was sitting in his tax collecting booth. Even more surprising was for Jesus to go to the house of Matthew for a meal with all of Matt’s tax-collecting buddies and other low life scum.
The scribes of the Pharisees, who were experts in Jewish law, saw this outrageous action and said to His disciples;
“Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?”
Unfortunately for them Jesus heard their question and turned around to answer it;
“It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The presumption that religious people have is that God will love you and prefer being with you if you are able to live a life of obedience and live according to the laws God has given us. Yet, what we see Jesus doing is the exact opposite. For the Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus had the strongest words of condemnation.
I do not think that Jesus hated them, but He certainly hated what they were doing to the people of Israel. They were beaten down and burdened with so much guilt their whole lives became trying to practice all of the 613 laws of which the Pharisees continuously reminding them.
This system of religion taught the false belief that one’s righteousness must be earned by obedience when all along God had a righteousness that comes by faith. This lesson was to have been learned by the life of Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel, who was declared righteous by his faith in God.
It is easy for the church today to fall into the same wayward system of believing that we are saved, or we remain saved by our works. Jesus not only demonstrated this while He was on earth, but He lived it as well.
He was eating at the house of the tax collector filled with other tax collectors and sinners. His disciples were not the well-educated leaders and Pharisees. They were fishermen, tax collectors, and people living in sin. He came to heal those who knew they were sick and whose lives had been destroyed by sinful behavior and were outcasts to the religious elite.
And it was to that crowd that Jesus said;
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
So, if you are a sinner … like me … you should find comfort in these words. Jesus loves sinners and especially those who have been broken by sin and condemnation from the religious community. Those who know they are sinners and need help and need forgiveness.
It is to you and me that Jesus invites to come to Him. We have grown weary in our battle against pornography and sexual sin. We are heavy-laden with guilt and shame and exhausted by hiding our sin so we will not be found out. We earnestly want to stop because we know it is destroying us … but we find ourselves going back to it again and again and again.
Jesus invites us to take His yoke upon us. Do you know what that yoke is? It is not a yoke of more rules and regulations for us to try and keep. It is the yoke of GRACE. It is the yoke of unconditional love and mercy. It is Him welcoming us just the way we are will all our brokenness and history of sexual sin.
And with the yoke of Grace upon us, we can learn from Him. He is gentle and humble in His heart. He walked this earth as a man and experienced many of the things we struggle with, yet without sin. So, He knows from personal experience what it is like to live in this fallen world.
And we can find rest for our souls. Doesn’t that sound wonderful??? When was the last time your soul felt at rest? It is riddled with condemnation when it should be filled with peace. It is afraid of our sins being exposed when it should be feeling no condemnation.
His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. So, thank Him for his complete and eternal forgiveness. Thank Him for His grace and mercy toward you and know this … He wants to walk with you today through everything you will face.