[RE]FOCUS Day 24
Week 4: Renewing
Day 3: Tax Collectors
By Bruce Volkert
Luke 5:30–32 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Ah, the life of a New Testament era tax collector. Wealthy? Yes. Friends? Well, maybe only those superficial “friends” who enjoy hanging out with wealthy and despised folks. Tax collectors at the time grew their personal wealth by demanding more money than was actually due and putting the extra in their own pockets. Imagine the reaction if that happened to you at the cash register: “OK, you see here your total with tax included comes to $152.57. Now, if you would just hand over an extra twenty bucks for ‘yours truly’ you can be on your way. Will that be cash or credit?” The clerk would be rather unpopular. In the same way, tax collectors are lumped into somewhat despicable groups when discussed in the Gospel accounts.
For example, Luke sets the scene for The Parable of the Lost Sheep in this way, “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them’”. Matthew (himself a tax collector) when reporting his own calling to become a disciple recorded that people asked followers of Jesus, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But, Jesus DID offer mercy and forgiveness to these people. He met with them, ate with them and even called them to be His disciples. He offers the same to each of us. No sin is bigger than God’s eternal grace.
Lord, You seek out the ones forgotten by everyone else. Change my heart and my mind, refocus my eyes to see all the saints You know and love, and all the sinners You continue to seek. Thank you for seeking and saving me. Amen.
Have you ever felt forgotten? God never forgets you. How does knowing that give you hope and peace, especially when others fail?