Jesus and the Tax Man
Music courtesy bensound.com and archive.org. Sounds courtesy freesfx.co.uk.
You are at your booth dealing with the tax payments from a long line of people. You accept their payments and record the amount on one of the official documents piled on your table. Many of the townspeople mutter snide comments as they pass by your booth, but you are used to their contempt by now. Over time, you have learned to ignore them. No one really knows you anyway. No one has ever asked what brought you to this place, this job.
At last, you collect taxes from the last person in line. As you busily pack up the piles of papers scattered across the table, you hear footsteps approaching and groan. Go away, you say to yourself. The footsteps stop, and you sense someone standing in front of your table. You look up reluctantly. It is the miracle-worker you’ve been seeing around town. Several other men you have seen with him gather around your table. You tense up. You wonder what they want from you. Jesus looks at you carefully, piercingly, then says, “Matthew.”
You are surprised he knows your name.
“Matthew,” he says again, “I want you to follow me.”
How do you feel as you ponder this invitation? What do you notice about him and his followers? What questions do you want to ask Jesus?
Take a few minutes to reflect on how you want to respond to this invitation.
In Luke’s story, Matthew responds to Jesus by throwing a banquet in his honor. Imagine that you do the same.
You are at the banquet. Dinner is being served and you are soaking it all in. Jesus came to your house! You are surrounded by people talking and laughing…. Musicians are playing in the corner. Listen to the music…. Look at people’s faces. Do you recognize anyone? Who is Jesus talking to right now? What do you notice about Jesus? How do you feel as you watch everyone enjoying this banquet?
You suddenly overhear a group of pastors at a table behind you, harshly accusing some of the disciples for eating with tax collectors and prostitutes.
Their words burn. You feel your face flush as the room falls into an awkward silence. Then Jesus stands up and faces the pastors. “It is not the healthy that need a doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
What does Jesus look like as he says this? What do you hear in his tone of voice? As you remain in the scene, how do you want to respond to Jesus?
Photo courtesy Alexander Andrews on Unsplash.com