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Matthew 7:24, 28-29
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock…
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”
SETTING POLITICS ASIDE
Under normal circumstances, Jesus of Nazareth and Matthew of Capernaum would have never crossed paths. Jesus was a carpenter (a.k.a. home builder) with his earthly father, Joseph. Matthew (or Levi) was a tax collector who lived 20 miles northeast of Nazareth in the fishing village at the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee.
But their lives did intertwine in a profound way because Jesus was much more than a carpenter’s son – He was (and is) the Rock of our Salvation.
Prior to becoming a disciple of Jesus, Matthew’s involvement in Roman politics was quite problematic. As a tax collector, it was his job to collect Caesar’s oppressive taxes from among his own people. The Jews merely tolerated Roman oversight and only reluctantly surrendered their earnings because uprisings against the current system were quickly extinguished by Rome's power.
Therefore, Matthew was seen as a religious compromiser and another corrupt politician who didn’t care about religious freedom or the Mosaic Law. And perhaps he was…until he met Jesus.
The new Rabbi from Nazareth had become very popular in Capernaum as Jesus healed every kind of sickness from among the people (Mt 4:23) and even showed compassion upon lepers (Mk 1:40-41). The crowds were astonished at his teaching since he spoke with a kind of power which had no equal and which silenced demons.
But it wasn’t by witnessing Jesus’ commanding teaching or incredible miracles which transformed Matthew’s life. Matthew gave up his governmental aspirations when the Master looked at him and said, “Follow me.” At once, he rose and left everything else behind. Matthew became one who committed his life to investing in the Kingdom of God and inviting sinners, like himself, to repentance.
His legacy as a disciple endures to this day because he set politics aside, built his life upon ‘the rock’ and put Jesus’ teachings into practical use.
Although we may not relate to Matthew’s career choice as a tax collector, we should relate with his decision to set aside the work and agenda of Rome in order to point people toward the authority of Jesus.
While the politicians rage and people aspire to solve the world’s problems, we are called to that which has a greater significance. Instead of getting caught up into political movements or self-prompting agendas, disciples of Jesus are called to build upon His life and teachings, especially those summarized in the ‘Sermon on the Mount,’ and invite others to do the same.
The true hope for the world does not rest in policies or politicians. In fact, it never has. It rests in authority of Jesus who supernaturally transforms sinners into citizens of the Kingdom and tax collectors into co-laborers with Christ.
Lord, may your Kingdom be manifest in each believer and may Your life-changing message be proclaimed among those who have not yet heard. Through Jesus, Amen!