Tag Archives: Tax Collector

Deuteronomy 27-31; Mark 2

Once again there is so much we could focus on in these chapters of God’s Word. Today I want us to look at a part of Mark 2. It’s a passage we may glance over without really thinking it through. Here it is:

13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. 15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mar2:13-17 [NIV]

Levi (Matthew) was a tax collector. One of the most dishonest professions of the day. They would extort extra funds from those they were collecting taxes from. Not only does Jesus call Levi to be one of His disciples, but when Levi has a party Jesus attends with even more tax collectors and sinners as Mark puts it. It was over a meal. They were eating together where Jesus meets these people. Many times I think we overlook the power of hospitality and eating together in spreading the gospel. Jesus came eating and drinking we read elsewhere in Scripture. His ministry happened many times over a meal. And at the last supper many things were spoken and remembered.

What role does eating and drinking play in your witnessing plan? Perhaps when you have individuals over for dinner who don’t know the Lord and you say a blessing over the meal it may get them thinking about eternal values. Especially when you thank God for your friendship.

Think about it. Who can you invite for dinner? What powerful things can you say, pray and ask that will draw your guests closer to God?

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Deuteronomy, Mark, Uncategorized

2 Samuel 1-3; Luke 18:1-17

Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them?

(Luke 18:7)

– – – – – – – 

The first 8 verses of Luke 18:1-17 tell us about persistence in prayer. The lesson being, if even an unrighteous judge could be convinced to do something by persistence, how much more will God give justice to his people who seek him diligently in prayer. 

Easy to understand, and hard to practice, I find myself often getting discouraged in prayer. 

– – –

Verses 9-14 consist of a parable Jesus tells about a Pharisee and a tax collector who went up to pray. The Pharisee would have been very righteous on the outside to all who saw him. The tax collector was about the opposite of that. He wouldn’t have been allowed in the same area as the Pharisee for prayer at the temple, he would have been ‘far off’ as the text says, in the court of the Gentiles. 

However their prayers are what is most interesting.

The Pharisee prays, primarily about himself. 

On the basis of his own good works. 

He ‘thanks God’ but it almost reads as false piety because he then goes on to talk about all the things that he has done, in his own power. It kind of reminds me of when actors get awards and ‘thank God’ first.

(some of them probably really mean it, I don’t really know their hearts, but supposedly upwards of 80% of Americans are ‘christians’ too.)

However the tax collector’s prayer is the one that ‘justifies him’, that God delights in hearing. Even though it is from someone who is unclean by God’s own standards.

How often do I go to God, and instead of asking for mercy and revealing my own shortcomings, I talk about all the good I do for him, as if that’s justification for him to grant me things?

– – –

And the last 3 verses, talk about Jesus’ response to children. 

Which used to seem super out of place to me the first few times I read it

But it’s actually the perfect picture of how God relates to us, and by that token it makes perfect sense to have it in a discourse about prayer

Here’s my takeaways from the 3 sections:

-Be diligent and expectant in prayer

-Ask on the grounds of who God is, understand I am undeserving of Grace

-And receive the Kingdom of God like a child – with sheer joy and excitement as a child receiving a gift

– – – 

I don’t think it’s an accident these three portions all fall right next to one another in this order in Luke’s Gospel. it’s a compilation of some of Jesus’ teachings on prayer. And when all three sit in a progression, it teaches me a lot about how I am to pray.

Putting it into practice is another thing:

Lord, because of your lovingkindness,

 because you are faithful to fulfill all your promises, 

be not far from me, 

humble me in your great mercy, 

and allow me to take part in your Kingdom as it advances today. 

I thank you for you are the good shepherd, I hear your voice, 

but am powerless to obey, I need your Spirit.

Lord have mercy on me,

A sinner.

– – –

-S. Anglin

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Exodus 9-13; Matthew 18:1-20

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.” Exodus 10:1-2

In the Exodus story, Moses repeatedly shares that God purposely hardened the heart of Pharaoh and his servants. Pharaoh would not listen to the decree of God to ‘Let My people go’. God didn’t want the liberation of the Israelites to become an event that was quickly forgotten. He wanted to demonstrate His glory and His power in a memorable way so that all would ‘know that I am Lord’. God dealt with the Egyptians harshly and without mercy; forgiveness did not enter into the picture.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17

In Matthew, Jesus describes how to maneuver in situations of offense and sin. If I go to the offender and he listens, than I have gained a brother. But if his heart is hardened, Jesus said to let the wrongdoer be to me as a gentile and a tax collector.

What does that really mean in the context of New Covenant?

I have observed that a very common Christian assessment of that verse is that when someone doesn’t listen to the church, that they should be excommunicated, cut off and shunned by that group.

I’ve been in the situation where I was treated this way by a community that I had grown very close to. The situation was complicated, and though I know that my heart was right before God, I was still cast aside. I felt rejected by trusted friends, abandoned by people I had shown my vulnerabilities. Being discarded hurt then, and the wounds it left still hurt now at times; it began my search to better understand what Jesus intended.

…If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love. Matthew 18:17 (MSG)

I love the way The Message describes the way I should treat someone who isn’t ready to own up to their failings. The version doesn’t say reject, cast-off, snub. It says to start over, to confront and offer God’s forgiving love. The Bible exhorts me to forgive, nearly 500 times if necessary, and in the same way I would hope to be forgiven. God’s Word encourages me to love my enemies, to bless and pray for my persecutors. His Word reminds me of the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for me while I was still a sinner and His constant mercy when I inevitably make mistakes as a believer.

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. Matthew 18:11 (NKJV)

Though many versions omit this verse, it still holds true that Christ’s goal is to save the lost. He yearns for redemption, reconciliation, and restoration. He wants to rebuild honor, reestablish relationship, and reinstate original positioning, with Him and with others. He does that daily by offering His body and His blood. He seeks out the lost, whether they have never seen the Good Shepherd or have simply strayed away from the flock and offers forgiveness, ushering them into the fold.

While walking the earth, Jesus treated gentiles (unclean, polytheistic ‘heathens’), tax collectors, prostitutes and every other kind of sinner with mercy and grace. Though He didn’t condone their behaviors, He spent time with them. He demonstrated love and acceptance; and that witness was what opened eyes to sin and lead to change of heart, to repentance.

I can only believe that God asks me to do the same – to offer love, compassion, mercy, and forbearance – as He extends to me.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your forgiveness, Your grace, and Your mercy. Thank You for seeking me out when I am lost. Thank You for accepting me no matter what. Keep my heart soft, repentant before You at all times. Help me be a pipeline for Your love forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (written in Sholavandan)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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Filed under 66 Books, ESV Through the Bible in a Year, Exodus, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament