Sermon for Pentecost 2 – 6.11.23

+ 2nd Sunday after Pentecost – 6.11.23 +

Series A: Hosea 5:15-6:6; Romans 4:13-25; Matthew 9:9-13

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

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In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

When you see a business looking to hire an employee, you’ll often see a sign that says something like, “Submit your resume to the manager; we’re looking for qualified candidates.” Or “The most qualified candidate will be hired.”

 

When our Lord calls his servants, people, prophets, and disciples, however, it seems like he does the exact the opposite. God calls Abraham who twice tried to pass off his wife as his sister. God called Moses the murderer and stutterer to lead his people out of Pharaoh’s hands. God chose his people Israel despite their continued rebellion and rejection of him. The call of Matthew the tax collector is another great example of how our Lord works.

 

From our point of view the Bible is one story after another of God calling the most strange and unqualified bunch of sinners to be his people and go about his work. If there was a resume to be a follower of Jesus it would simply have one question…do you believe that Christ came to save sinners of whom you are the foremost? Yes. Amen! Or, as a good friend of mine likes to say, Christ died for sinners, and you qualify.

 

That is how it is for our Lord Jesus. Christ came to dwell among sinners, to call sinners to repentance and life in his name, to change sinners, and to save sinners, not by our qualifications, but by the only credentials that matter: Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection for you.

 

I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.

 

Jesus says these famous words at the end of Matthew’s account where Jesus called to Matthew to be his disciple. Jesus is on a mission of mercy to rescue sinners out of their own sinful, selfish destruction and to bring healing, life, and salvation. Jesus came to bring mercy to sinners like Matthew, and you and me.

 

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

 

You have to love the simplicity and beauty of this passage. Jesus could have called anyone to be his disciple. He could have picked the outwardly more qualified pharisees. But no. Jesus goes out of his way to call a tax collector.

 

You’ve probably heard that tax collectors unpopular among the religious leaders of the first century. Today we’d call them private government subcontractors. They often paid the authorities ahead of time what we would call a sales tax or toll or tax on goods and merchandise today. And then of course they would charge a higher rate from people than what they had already paid. Tax collectors were seen as greedy, deceitful, dishonest, traitors, outcasts of society, unredeemable.

 

When Jesus calls Matthew it’s a reminder that this is why Jesus came, to have mercy on sinners. To call sinners to himself and rescue you. No one, not even the lowest outcast in society, was beyond Jesus’ saving. There was no one he thought beyond redemption. There’s nowhere Jesus won’t go to save you…He was willing to go the cross of you, to endure the hell and agony of crucifixion for you, to suffer even to the point of death and went down into the grave for you to rescue you and bring you to himself.

 

This is what Jesus does…he came for sinners. He meets sinners where they are. Jesus went to the house. Could’ve been Matthew’s house, or a one of his tax collector friends. This alone upset the self-righteous pharisees, but Jesus did more.

 

There’s Jesus eating and drinking with the outcasts and those deemed unredeemable by the pharisees. It’s worth noting that when Jesus does this he isn’t there to tolerate or accept their sin, but he eats and drinks with sinners in order to change and transform them. Jesus meets sinners where they are at but he doesn’t leave them there. He forgives and changes those he meets. He calls them out of their lostness, darkness, and death and into his life and healing and forgiveness.

 

And while Jesus is there enjoying a meal, the pharisees see what’s going down, and never missing an opportunity to exalt themselves and increase their righteousness, one of them says, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

 

Jesus’ answer is a two edged sword, with one edge he cuts down the pharisees and anyone who prides themselves on their own self-righteousness. With the other edge, he cuts away our sin and brings mercy, forgiveness, and healing for sinners.

 

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

As Jesus warns the pharisees, what he says seems opposite of what we’d expect. No glowing resume, no list of accomplishments and qualifications. Simply this: Jesus dwells among sinners. Martin Luther, in a letter of 1516 understood this well and wrote,

 

“Beware of aspiring to such purity that you will not wish to be looked upon as a sinner or to be one. For Christ dwells only in sinners. On this account, he [Christ] descended from heaven, where he dwelt among the righteous, to dwell among sinners. Meditate on this love of his, and you will see his sweet consolation . . . you will learn from him that just as he has received you, so he has made your sins his own and has made his righteousness yours…”

 

It’s simple really, if we see yourself as a little sinner with little sins, you will see Christ as a little savior, with little to save you from. But, if we see ourselves as Scripture says, you will see a big sinner, and your sins as bigger still, but you will also see Christ as a bigger savior and his death bigger than all your sins. It’s true, our sin is great; but Jesus blood and death and sacrifice on the cross is greater.

 

Christ dwells among sinners. It was true for Matthew. And it’s true for you as well.

 

While our Lord’s calling of Matthew as a disciple is a unique calling and vocation, the way Jesus Matthew is a picture of the way he calls every one of us.

 

Like Matthew, our life in Christ begins only when Christ calls. Jesus calls and bids us follow him. Like Matthew, Jesus calls us through his powerful, life-giving word, a word that does what Jesus says and gives what he promises. “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. By his grace, so do you. Like Matthew, Jesus dwells with sinners, not to brush aside our sin, but to forgive it, heal it. Like Matthew, Jesus changes us, transforms us from love of self to love of our neighbor. Like Matthew, Jesus calls us to himself, heals us in his dying and rising, shed his blood to pay for our sins, and brings us to sit at his table, where as He did with Matthew, Jesus still eats and drinks with sinners.

 

Here in our Lord’s congregation of Beautiful Savior, Jesus is still on his mission of mercy to rescue sinners out of their own sinful, selfish destruction and to bring healing, life, and salvation. Here at our Lord’s table, in our Lord’s words, in his Supper, in his forgiveness, Jesus continues to show mercy to sinners like Matthew, like you and me. Here we rejoice that Christ continues to dwell with sinners.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977