Big Idea: We see in this story of Jesus eating with Matthew’s friends, our call to be in the real world as a light.

Scripture: He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them.  And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.  And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.  And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:13-17 ESV

1. Tax Collectors were considered to be the bottom feeders of Jewish Society. They were Jews, who worked for the Roman government, but also were money grabbing extortionists. Matthew lived and worked in Capernaum, where Jesus lived and spent much time. He and his friends were no doubt hated by the rest of their community. That’s whom Jesus was drawn to.

2. His name, “Levi”, is rooted in the idea of “lending and borrowing”. His natural gifting was dealing with money. Jesus came along and renamed him “Matthew”, which means “Gift of God” (the same as Nathanael) Rather than being one who “gets money”, he would be transformed into a “gift to others”. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”.
Romans 12:2 NLT

3. As followers of Jesus we have been commanded to be in the world, with those people who are in desperate need of God’s love and forgiveness, and they are open.
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?  But even if you should suffer for righteousnesssake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,  but in your hearts honour  Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,  having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be Gods will, than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:13-17 ESV

4. Our commission as followers of Jesus is to be a gift of light to others. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under peoples feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16 ESV

“Seven Questions” book is available now. I wrote it as a gift to give to our neighbours who are searching for answers to the big questions of life.

1. Is there a God?                   Our human quest for Transcendence

2, Where did I come from?     Our human quest for our Origins

3. Who am I?                          Our human quest for Identity

4. Why am I here?                  Our human quest for Significance

5. Where am I going?             Our human quest for Destiny

6. Why do people suffer?       Our human quest for Meaning

7. Does anyone love me?      Our human quest for Relationships

The third candle in Advent is the candle of joy
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalms 16:11 ESV

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 ESV

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 ESV