Encounter with God
God of the Bible, I am poised again to read Your Word. I pray for the Spirit’s enlightenment.
Read LUKE 5:27-32
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit…” (Matt. 5:3), i.e., those who come to God recognizing their spiritual need.
“After this…” (27). In yesterday’s reading the Pharisees appeared for the first time and were nonplussed by what they witnessed. No doubt there were different responses among them, from hostile criticism to amazement (26). What Jesus does in this story challenges them to the core.
Many of us resent paying tax–whether income tax, sales tax or customs duties–but the system of tax collection in the Roman Empire irked people much more. Roman officials farmed out the responsibility to locals, who paid an agreed sum up front and then recouped the money any way they could, lining their pockets in the process. It’s not hard to see why tax collectors were despised by other Jews as people who had sold out to the hated Roman government. Enter Levi, who at Jesus’ invitation “left everything” (28). Matthew, telling the same story, calls Levi by a different name, “Matthew,” and the list in Matthew 10:3 leaves us in no doubt that this was the same person. Apart from the lists of disciples, we are told nothing else about him after this encounter with Jesus. However, from the earliest times, he has been understood as the author of the first gospel. Think about that! The writer of the first gospel was a social outcast until he met Jesus!
Let us go back to the story and its wider meaning. There is a sharp divide between the Pharisees’ mission in life and what Jesus was about. We can see it in the little story of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisees had understood neither their bankruptcy in kingdom righteousness nor the riches of God’s grace. What God wants from us is generosity, mercy and forgiveness, given lavishly to others in response to what we have received from him.
Slavery to riches (seen here in Matthew), has been described as one of the most difficult forms of sin. How would you describe your situation in regard to this temptation? Are any changes needed?
Father, give me a fresh appreciation of all You have done for me and may that appreciation spill over into my relationships with others.
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