God’s love can change people
Reading: Matthew 9: 9-13 (3)
Additional reading: 1 John 3:15, Luke 6: 27-39
(1) Two thousand years ago, in Israel, not many people were able to read and write.
But Matthew could read and write.
He was really good at it.
He was also good at organizing things.
So, he became a tax collector.
But there was one problem in his life.
In those days, tax collectors were Jewish men.
They took taxes from Jewish people and gave money to the Roman Empire.
So, Matthew’s job was to make his people money and gave to the Roman Empire who was occupying their land without their permission.
Moreover, he had to overcharge his Jewish people, in order to make some profit for himself.
So, you can guess that Jewish people didn’t like the Romans and didn’t like their tax collectors.
They didn’t want to meet Matthew.
But Matthew was waiting for them in the place where they had to pass day by day.
So, they had to pay taxes even though they knew that they were overcharged.
(1) Then one day, the Jewish Jesus saw this Matthew collecting taxes on the street.
Jesus thought: “Hey, Matthew could be a good disciple.
You know, he could write down my teachings and organize so that other people could read about it.”
So, Jesus said to Matthew:
“Follow me and be my disciple.”
Then Matthew got up and really followed him.
Then Matthew learned about the teachings of Jesus.
He really liked it.
So, he became a good student of Jesus.
But initially, people were puzzled when Jesus invited Matthew to be his disciple.
But soon they were able to see why, because Matthew was changing as he experienced Jesus and his teachings.
(1) Then Jesus also told his other students something like this:
“Matthew is your brother now.
So learn to work with him.
I think Matthew would be very important person for my ministry.”
Then Jesus helped Matthew to be a good teacher.
Matthew was also having fun because he could use his organizing skill for Jesus.
He even organized Jesus’ teaching according to its theme.
(2) Then later, he wrote a book called the gospel of Matthew.
It is one of the best written gospels we have.
God’s Church is still using this book to learn about the teachings of Jesus.
This kind of change was possible because Jesus didn’t judge him or condemn him.
Instead, Jesus sort of told him like:
“Your sins are forgiven.
Now all is ok.
Live your life for me.
Receive the Holy Spirit and live your life for God.
Then you can live like me and change the world for me.”
The students of Jesus also tried to work with Matthew.
They pray for him.
They forgive him.
Then, a tax collector becomes a gospel writer.
Then through his book, he was still preaching the gospel today.
Jesus was changing one person at a time, knowing that in this way, he could change the world.
Jesus liked like this, calling Matthew, because he knew God’s love is the most powerful way to change people.
Jesus knew that when mercy is shown, people change.
When forgiveness is shown, people change.
When compassion is shown, people change.
When freedom is given, people change.
So, Jesus forgives many sins and mistakes and helps them to find the right path for them. (1 Peter 4:8)
In this church, Jesus is trying to do the same.
Seeing God’s possibility, Jesus adds various people into his ministry.
Jesus was like:
“I am a good doctor.
I can cure you.
So, hang out with me.
Be with me.”
Like this, Jesus still finds those who haven't served God and then train them to serve God with their gifts and talents.
So, if we want to follow Jesus, we need to pray for these people, forgive them, and give them another chance to serve God.
This is the only way that we can follow Jesus.
Jesus, you welcome people.
Then you help them to serve God.
You help us to know the joy of serving God.
Change our hearts also so that we may see, speak and act like you.
May we practice your compassion and ministry so that there may be more disciples like Mathew.
In Jesus name, we pray.