Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

A Yorkshireman's take on life, death, and eternity

My talk last Sunday…

Okay, so I’m not technical enough to give you the recording of my church talk this morning, but I’ll give you a summary. It’s from Matthew 10.

Jesus is King (amens from the congregation)!

Okay, so Jesus is King, but who’s welcome in His Kingdom?

And what does it mean to be part of Jesus’ Kingdom?

Surely a tax collector isn’t welcome into God’s Kingdom?

Okay, so nowadays tax collectors are unpopular because no one likes paying their taxes.

But in Jesus’ day, not only were tax collectors unpopular, but they were also seen as traitors to their own people, because they worked for the occupying Roman Empire.

Not only so, but tax collecting was seen to be a corrupt, greedy job, because tax collectors would take some for Rome and some for their pockets. They were seen as cheating, thieving no-gooders.

Okay, so tax collectors aren’t so badly thought of nowadays (on the whole!). But what about rappers, with their lyrics glamourising guns, violence, sex, drugs, money and power etc.?

Well my title “Jesus is King” comes from Kanye West’s latest album. He’s one of the most (in)famous rappers, but he’s become a Christian.

People casting doubt on his conversion remind me of those who cast doubt on Matthew’s conversion. We meet him in the previous chapter of his gospel, at the tax booth. Jesus says “Follow me” and he follows Him, leaving everything behind. It’s like Jesus coming to us in our day to day lives and calling us to leave everything behind for Him.

Following Jesus isn’t like following someone on twitter because you’re curious about what they might say (although you’ll take it or leave it). It’s about life transformation. Matthew gave up his livelihood for Jesus.

Jesus went to Matthew’s house where all his dodgy tax collector and “sinner” friends gathered round to meet Him.

The religious people were outraged. What’s Jesus doing eating with all these questionable people? He replied, “it’s not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’ (equating Himself with God). I’ve not come to call the goody two shoes but sinners to repentance.

Matthew never forgot who he was before Jesus called him: a despised tax collector; like Kanye West the rapper. All the other gospel writers when they list the apostles, graciously gloss over the fact he was a tax collector, but Matthew remembered what he’d been when Jesus called him.

I personally was a little Pharisee in the making, from a churchy home, but arrogant, proud and self righteous. But then I came to realise that Jesus is King, and humbled myself before Him.

So tax collectors and rappers are welcome in Jesus’ Kingdom. But so was Simon the Zealot. Interestingly, he’s always referred to as a Zealot, even after Jesus has died, risen again, and sent His followers out on mission for Him.

We get the word “zeal” from “Zealot”- it means “passionate”. But in Simon’s day it was a political term. Zealots wanted to kick the Romans out of Palestine. So if it wasn’t for Jesus, Matthew and Simon would have been enemies- Matthew working for the Romans and Simon wanting to kick them out.

But they were united by the belief that Jesus is King. To the Romans, for whom Caesar was king, Matthew will have been seen as treasonous for claiming Jesus is King. For the Zealots, who hoped the Messiah would kick out the Romans, a crucified Lord was no Lord at all.

Okay, so everyone’s welcome in God’s Kingdom- tax collectors, Zealots and rappers alike. But once in, what’s our purpose?

(This post is long for me so I’m going to cut it down to note form)

– Fulfil the Great Commission

By – finding worthy people- not necessarily religious.

– Expect opposition- From family to the authorities

– Don’t worry- God will look after us

Freedom

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

1 Corinthians 10:23 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/1co.10.23.ESV

So when we become Christians, we’re set free from legalisticly trying to earn our salvation. We’re free to live for God, instead of being enslaved to our selfish desires. But having been set free, we’re not to become yoked again to legalism or selfishness.

We might be free as Christians, but not everything we’re free to do is helpful. A lot of social media, rather than being a helpful way of keeping in touch, is an unhelpful waste of time. How about instead of being on Facebook, we stuck our faces into the Book- that would be much more edifying.

A child might be free to play on the swings in the park for as long as he wants. But for the sake of the queue of other children, he lets them have a go. We’re not to always be selfish but to think of other’s best interests.

Maybe we’ve got into the habit of making snide remarks. Even if we claim to be just joking, it’s not beneficial to anyone. It’s much better to consider how we might build each other up, than to knock each other down.

“Dear God, having set us free, please don’t let us use that freedom as a license to sin. May we look to the interests of others rather than to always be self interested. In Christ’s name, amen”