Moses said to the LORD, “May the LORD, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD‘s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.” Numbers 27:15-17
Moses’ job was not a cushy one. The people of Israel were chronic complainers and as their leader, Moses was the most convenient lightning rod for their angst. One wonders how much stress-related insomnia he suffered, how many ulcers he powered through, over the course of his 40-year tenure. But at last, finally, they stood on the precipice of the Promised Land—at last, finally, he would get to see the fruits of all his labors: Israel marching into their new homeland. Only he wouldn’t get to see that. The people indeed would come to the Promised Land, but Moses himself wouldn’t see the day. He’d glimpse the Promised Land from afar, and then his earthly life would end.
If there were ever a time for lashing out, it seems this would be it. If anyone ever had a reason to be jaded and angry, it would seem to be Moses. But instead of telling Israel, “Good luck living without me!” Moses pleads for the people’s wellbeing; he prays that God would give them a strong leader. How surprising, how unexpected!
But it’s not all that surprising when we remember what the kingdom of God is all about. 1,500 years after Moses died, Jesus also saw a people lacking spiritual direction, helpless, and perhaps not even realizing how desperate a situation they were in. And instead of saying, “You deserve what you get. Good luck trying to make it without me!” Jesus had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
That surprising compassion, when jadedness would’ve been completely justified, is what pushed Jesus beyond mere sympathetic feelings and to life sacrificing, sin atoning, world redeeming action. We are the beneficiaries of that selfless compassion. And now we are grateful, joyful imitators of that selfless compassion as well.
How desperately we need you, Good Shepherd! Thank you for looking on your sheep with compassion. Give us hearts like yours, that we may treat others with care and compassion as well. Amen.
Recently, actor John Krasinski attracted the attention of millions of Americans with a homemade, self-produced news show that featured only good news in every segment. He called it SGN-Some Good News. And Americans flocked to it, reposting it on their social media feeds, and giving the show’s initial episode 18 million views on YouTube. It’s not hard to understand why. People are desperate for some good news.
It was not all that different 2,000 years ago. People back then faced disease and witnessed oppression. They saw marriages break apart and families disintegrate. They wrestled with hypocrisy and anger in themselves. They experienced disillusionment, and they coped with tragedy. Its manifestations may have changed over the years, but sin was indeed able to mess things up back then, just as it does today. People needed some good news.
And Jesus brought it, going through all the towns and villages, proclaiming the good news. But Jesus’ good news was more than just human-interest stories of kindness and hope. The good news that Jesus brought told people of the kindness of the eternal God, bringing hope of eternal life to people surrounded by sin on every side. He proclaimed the good news of the kingdom!
How surprising, how unexpected! It wouldn’t have been at all shocking if the Son of God had come proclaiming the bad news. It wouldn’t have been at all shocking if Jesus had proclaimed, “You deserve only anger from a holy God.” He would have been exactly right.
But the Son of God came not to destroy us, but to destroy the devil’s work by achieving perfect obedience in his life and by offering a perfect sacrifice in his death. The price has been paid in full, and we didn’t have to do anything to earn it. That’s good news.
In the end, Some Good News lost a bit of its luster as John Krasinski faced popular backlash for selling the rights to the show to CBS. Yes, even the best news that comes from the heart of man can still result in angst and turmoil. But the good news of the kingdom never loses its luster. God has come near and paid for sin. That’s surprisingly good news in a bad news world.
Lord Jesus, make your good news a comfort for me in our chaotic world and my hope of a brighter future with you in eternity. Amen.
Sometimes I forget how powerful the disease of sin truly is in my life. I forget that my sinfulness infects even my thinking, even my sense of logic.
For example, I dictate to God how he can show his love for me. I demand that he demonstrate his love for me by giving me good health, a good job, a stable family, money in the bank, popularity, prestige, a solid retirement plan. But when my health fades, when the good job goes away, when there’s heartbreak in the family, when the money dries up, when I feel like a stranger around my friends, I accuse him of not loving me. I accuse him of not caring. I even wonder if he exists.
Perhaps your line of thinking has often gone the same way.
How blind we can be, you and I. How arrogant and foolish. We question God’s love, even his very existence, all the while ignoring the ultimate demonstration of his love for us: The death of his Son for your sins and mine.
But there’s the beauty, the very way by which God demonstrates his love for us is also the very thing that washes away the stains of our foolish arrogance. It also seals God’s promise that his love will guide even the pain and sorrow of life for our good.
Heavenly Father, fix my eyes on the cross, the ultimate demonstration of your love for me. And empower me to see your love at work even in the pain and sorrow of my life. Amen.
Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:1,2
Matthew chapter 9 is one of the most rapid-fire chapters of the Bible. In fewer than forty verses, we see Jesus perform at least seven miracles, answer questions and complaints from the teachers of the law, Pharisees, and even followers of John the Baptist. All the while we see him confidently going about his ministry, calling another Apostle, instructing his disciples, and explaining his purpose on earth: to forgive sins and save souls. He raises a girl from the dead. He reads minds. He heals the blind, the paralyzed, the demon-possessed, and a woman with an unknown malady of constant bleeding. Except for time out to eat at Matthew’s house, the text of the chapter suggests that these events happened in a very short period of time during a brief stay in Jesus’ “own town.”
Jesus’ “own town” was Capernaum. This was his base of ministry in Galilee. Often he visited there, but he wasn’t completely welcome there. In Matthew 11:20-24 we read that Jesus warned this city that it would be judged because the people refused to believe in him despite the miracles he performed in their midst.
But therein Capernaum Jesus shows us why he came into the world—he came to forgive sins. He said to the paralyzed man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
When God declares our sins forgiven, we can be assured that they are completely gone because God cannot lie.
If your sins are burdening you, if your guilt is weighing you down, take heart. In Jesus, your sins are forgiven!
Dear Jesus, the forgiveness of sins you freely give assures me that I am free of God’s sentence of condemnation. Clinging to your forgiveness by faith, I am blessed with a close and loving relationship with God forever. With all my grateful heart, I thank you. Amen.
We prepare ourselves to worship the one Savior God by expressing our humble repentance, offering our fervent prayers and singing our thankful hymns of praise.
Please note: Worship Service Restart Plans (Bulletin pages 21, 22) Worship f.)There will be limited congregational singing and speaking. A cantor will assist with the singing and liturgical responses.
OPENING HYMN Come, Let Us Join Our Cheerful SongsChristian Worship #227
M: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION
When we confess to God that we have failed to live up to the perfect standards in his law, the pastor announces the perfect forgiveness of sins won for us by Jesus.
M: Beloved in the Lord: let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins to God our Father, asking him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.
C: Holy and merciful Father, I confess that I am by nature sinful and that I have disobeyed you in my thoughts, words and actions. I have done what is evil and failed to do what is good. For this I deserve your punishment both now and in eternity. But I am truly sorry for my sins and trusting in my Savior Jesus Christ, I pray: Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.
LORD, HAVE MERCY
The Church brings her concerns and prayers to a loving Father in heaven, who has shown great mercy to us and promised to hear our ardent cries for help.
M: God, our heavenly Father, has been merciful to us and has given his only Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Therefore, as a called servant of Christ and by his authority, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son ✠ and of the Holy Spirit.
GLORY BE TO GOD
This song of praise reminds us of the wonderful things God has done for us, not the least of which is the salvation he gives through Jesus Christ.
M: In the peace of forgiveness, let us praise the Lord.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
M: The Lord be with you.
M: Let us pray.
O God, protector of all the faithful, you alone make strong; you alone make holy. Show us your mercy and forgive our sins day by day. Guide us through our earthly lives that we do not lose the things you have prepared for us in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Please be seated for the day’s Scripture readings
✠T H E W O R D✠
The Lord Jesus speaks to us in Scripture reading, preaching and song.
FIRST READING Exodus 19:2-8a
Summary: God sets apart His people to be a kingdom of priests
After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.
Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.”
PSALM OF THE DAY 100
The cantor sings refrains. Pastor reads the verses.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.*
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.*
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;*
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;*
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;*
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
SECOND READING Romans 5:6-11
Summary: Christ died for us in order to reconcile us to God
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
VERSE OF THE DAY Psalm 132:9
Alleluia. May your priests be clothed with righteousness; may your saints sing for joy. Alleluia.
GOSPEL READING Matthew 9:35–10:8 (today’s sermon text)
Summary: Jesus sends out the Twelve to bring back the lost sheep of Israel
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and became fully human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who in unity with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.
HYMN OF THE DAY Spread, Oh, Spread the Mighty Word
Christian Worship #576
SERMON Matthew 9:35-10:8
“Communicate Christ-like Compassion”
2. To whom?
Stand after the sermon.
CREATE IN ME
✠ O F F E R I N G S O F G I F T S & P R A Y E R S✠
Members of this congregation show their thanks to God for all he has done for them by returning a portion of their income to the Lord. Through these free will offerings, this congregation and its ministries are maintained. Please deposit your offering on the plate located near the church entry.
The Offering Prayer, A Prayer for Us to See People Through Jesus’ Eyes and for Courage to Share the Gospel and Intercessory Prayers are spoken by pastor. Please see announcements on page 16 for those on our Intercessory Prayers list.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
✠S E R V I C E O F T H E S A C R A M E N T✠
In this service we celebrate the gift of Jesus’ redeeming love, we bear witness to the Christian fellowship we share, and we proclaim his death until he returns.
M: The Lord be with you.
M: Lift up your hearts.
M: Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.
M: It is truly good and right that we should at all times and in all places give you thanks, O Lord, holy Father, almighty and everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Who promised that wherever two or three come together in his name, there he is with them to shepherd his flock till he comes again in glory.
Therefore, with all the saints on earth and hosts of heaven, we praise your holy name and join their glorious song:
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY
WORDS OF INSTITUTION
M: Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body, which is given for you. Do this is remembrance of me.”
M: Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured our for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
M: The peace of the Lord be with you always.
O CHRIST, LAMB OF GOD
Please be seated for the distribution
At St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church we practice closed Communion. If you are a guest at worship today and interested in receiving the Lord’s Supper, please speak with the pastor prior to the service. The Joint Worship Committee has recommended that communion be served on the 2nd & 4th Sundays of the month at both Emmanuel and St. John’s and also on the Wednesdays at St. John’s following those Sunday services. Private communion may also be scheduled with Pastor Zietlow.
SONG OF SIMEON
M: O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
M: We give thanks, almighty God, that you have refreshed us with this holy supper. We pray that through it you will strengthen our faith in you and increase our love for one another. We as this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look on you with favor and ✠ give you peace.
CLOSING HYMN O Christ, Who Called the Twelve
Christian Worship Supplement #770
Next week’s theme July 5, 2020 5th Sunday after Pentecost & Independence Day:
Special service with guest preacher & seminary student, Justin Digman (Pastor Z’s son-in-law) “Confessing Christ is Spite of Opposition”
KATLYNN TINDALL ACCEPTANCE LETTER
Dear Members of St. John’s Lutheran Church and School,
On May 16, I received the divine call extended to me through the WELS Assignment Committee to serve as your 3rd-5th grade teacher.
I am really looking forward to this wonderful opportunity to serve the congregation, school and most importantly our God. Thank you very much for your thoughts and prayers. I look forward to meeting all of you. God’s Blessings.
“Hello! My name is Katlynn Tindall. I grew up in Waukesha, WI and graduated from WISCO in 2014. I attended MLC and graduated in December 2018. Upon graduation I taught grade 2 at Trinity in Brillion for a semester. Then I was assigned grades 2-4 at Zion in Toledo, OH. For fun I enjoy baking, drinking coffee, game nights, outdoor activities and spending time with family and friends. I am excited to meet all of you and continue sharing Jesus’ love to the students at St. Johns!”
Send a card, call, text or e-mail your words of encouragement!
What is the primary work of the Christian church? Surprisingly, many people answer that question in different ways. Some suggest that the primary work of the church is to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. Some say that the church is to work for overall social justice. Others think that the church’s job is to reform and restore the moral fiber of our world. Those are perhaps all worthy tasks, but there really shouldn’t be any debate about the church’s primary task because Jesus tells us what it is: Preach the gospel of forgiveness! (Mk 16:15) That’s our work and our privilege!
First Lesson (Exodus 19:2-8a)
What is a covenant? (verse 5)
How would God view his Old Testament people if they obeyed his Word?
What is a priest?
Second Lesson (Romans 5:6-11)
How did God demonstrate his love for all people?
What does it mean for us to be reconciled to God?
Gospel (Matthew 9:35 – 10:8)
Why did Jesus show compassion toward the crowds?
What is an apostle?
A covenant is an agreement. God is here establishing a covenant with his people: obey me fully and you will be my treasured possession. This is a two-sided covenant. God’s covenant with us is one-sided (cf. Jer 31:31-34).
They would be for him a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
The Scriptural job description of a priest is to be a go-between or mediator between God and human beings. In particular, he offered sacrifices for the sins of the peo-ple. God commanded that there be such priests in Old Testament times from the tribe of Levi. But in the New Testament there is no longer any need for such priests because through the sacrifice of Jesus, our great High Priest (Heb 7:26-28), we have all become priests of God (1 Pe 2:4-10), offering up our own spiritual sacrifices.
Jesus died for us while we were still sinners, his enemies. God’s love is unconditional! He didn’t wait for us to love him first.
To be reconciled with God means that all people were estranged or separated from him at one time because of our sinfulness, but now Jesus has washed our sinfulness away with his sacrifice on the cross. All people are now reconciled to God, and as Christians we share that message of reconciliation with others who don’t realize or believe it (2 Co 5:18-21).
Because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
An apostle is one who is “sent out” to proclaim the gospel. The twelve apostles had a special call from Jesus to proclaim the gospel without boundaries. In a very real sense, though, we are also “apostles” whenever we proclaim the gospel.
Several years ago, a man donated his kidney to save his wife. His wife needed a kidney transplant in order to live. Not wanting to wait for her name to come up on the list, and not wanting his wife to die, he decided to donate his. The transplant was a success. This man saved his wife’s life.
18 months later, the wife began a long-term affair with another man. She cheated on her husband. After several years, her unfaithfulness was discovered, and the man eventually filed the paperwork for a divorce, in which was included a demand that she return the kidney he had donated to save her life. He wanted his kidney back, knowing she would die if that were to happen.
Those who have been the victim of an affair might understand that man’s anger and pain. It’s why what God did for the Apostle Paul is so noteworthy.
Paul called himself “the worst” of sinners. Prior to meeting Jesus, he had made a career of persecuting Christians. But he wasn’t referring to his previous life of unbelief when he called himself “the worst” of sinners. It was when he was a Christian that he said, “I am the worst.”
He knew that compared to the perfection God demands of us, we always fall far short as we carry on our long-term relationship with sin and regularly prove ourselves to be unfaithful to our Creator. How does God respond to such sinners?
He does not want us to die in our sin. And we will not die in our sin, because Christ Jesus already came into the world to save sinners. He gave not just his kidney, but his entire perfect life as a substitutionary payment to save even the worst of sinners.
Whatever your sin is, however great it might be, whatever damage it has already done cannot change the truth that Christ Jesus has already saved you.
Father in heaven, strengthen my faith in you by keeping me focused on your faithfulness to me in Jesus. Amen.
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ “This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.” Exodus 3:14,15
When Moses asked for God’s name, God replied by calling himself, “I AM.”
That might sound like a strange name to us. But consider how often Jesus, himself, used this name to bring comfort to the hearts of God’s children.
“I AM the Living Bread,” Jesus says to those who have been starving for forgiveness, love, and attention.
“I AM the Light of the World,” he says to all who’ve lost their sense of direction.
“I AM the Good Shepherd,” he says to the vulnerable sheep who are hurting.
“I AM the Way,” he says to all who are searching.
“I AM the Resurrection and the Life,” he says as you cry at the coffin of your friend, your dad, or your mom.
“I AM … with you, always, to the very end” of whatever path you happen to be traveling.
And wherever you are on that path, the job God has given you is exactly the one he gave to Moses. It is to remember that the person you have been doesn’t change who you are through faith in Jesus. You are God’s child. Your job is to remember that, just as God called Moses to be there for Israel, he has called you to be there for your family, friends, and neighbors—not to be the great I AM—but to point them to the great I AM.
Father in heaven, thank you for being consistent in who you are so that I can find regular comfort in who I am in Christ Jesus, my Savior. Amen.
The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey . . . So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:7-10
No one ever intends to get to the end of the day, look in the mirror, and feel inadequate, guilty, unlovable, or unimportant. But these things still happen. And if they have ever happened to you; if you have ever stood in the middle of life’s demands feeling more scared than assured, more discouraged than confident, more vulnerable than protected, then you have something in common with Moses.
That might surprise you. After all, Moses is the man who parted the Red Sea, saw God, held the Ten Commandments, and set the Israelites free. But, when God called Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, Moses saw himself as entirely inadequate.”Who am I?” Moses asked God; which wasn’t as much a question as it was a declaration that Moses didn’t think he was able to do what God was asking.
And God agreed. That’s why he said, “I have seen their misery … I have heard them crying … I am concerned about their suffering … so I will rescue them.” God wasn’t asking Moses to be their Savior. His job was to remind Israel that they already had one. Just as you do.
You aren’t a slave to the Egyptians. But you are a slave to your sins against God and the guilt that goes with those sins. You aren’t anymore able to free yourself than Moses was able to free the Israelites. But God is. And God has. He sent his Son, Jesus, to free you from your sins by his perfect life and innocent death. May the story of Moses comfort you with the reminder that the Savior-God of Moses is your Savior-God too.
Father in heaven, thank you for the rescue you provide for our souls through the gift of our Savior, Jesus. Amen.
Compared to some of the other disciples, we don’t know a whole lot about Matthew. Other than the story of Jesus calling Matthew to be his disciple, Matthew’s name is only mentioned 4 times in the New Testament, and those 4 times are each a listing of the 12 disciples. He’s typically way down on the list, in the eighth or ninth spot.
What we do know about Matthew is that he had a very bad reputation in his community. You see, he was a tax collector. He collected money from his fellow countrymen on behalf of the hated Roman government. To make it worse, tax collectors were expected to overcharge and keep the extra money for themselves.
Jesus, of course, was well aware of what Matthew did for a living. And, when Jesus was scolded for eating dinner with Matthew, Jesus didn’t excuse Matthew’s sins. Instead, he announced that spiritually sick people like Matthew were precisely the people he had come to save. One wonders how Matthew felt as Jesus publicly described him as a sinner.
While we don’t know what Matthew felt in the moment, we get a glimpse into his relationship with Jesus when we discover that the name Matthew means “gift of God.” You see, when other writers in the Bible write about Matthew, they don’t call him Matthew. They call him Levi, his given name. Only Matthew calls himself Matthew. He realized that Jesus’ willingness to forgive him and associate with a sinner like him was a gift from God.
Whether or not your name is Matthew, this is also God’s gift to you.
God knows all the ways we are sick with sin. This is why he sent Jesus whose blood is the medicine that cures every sin.
Father in heaven, you know my heart and are aware of my every sin. Let me never forget the gift of forgiveness already won for me by your Son, Jesus. Amen.
There is a website that invites you to confess your deepest, darkest secrets. It invites you to use their website to share with the entire internet the most shameful skeletons you have in your closet. On one recent day, there were thousands of individual confessions that had been posted.
There are proven benefits to confessing our deepest secrets. Holding onto secrets about yourself, especially the bad ones, dramatically increases your stress, drastically cuts into your amount of needed rest, and radically transforms your mood and emotions into an inconsistent mess. This website was created as a way for people to unload the heaviest burdens on their hearts.
Despite that, you might still wonder why anyone would choose to openly confess their darkest secrets to the entire internet. One reason may be that all of the confessions are anonymous. People are fine with the whole internet world knowing the most intimate details of their secrets, as long as no one can ever connect those secrets with their names.
And we understand why. We easily wonder what people would think of us, and what consequences would follow, if they knew the entire truth about our past, or about the thoughts and passions we so often indulge.
But Jesus is already aware of all of them, whether or not we confess them to him. When Jesus approached a man named Matthew to call him as a disciple, he was well aware of Matthew’s deserved reputation as a “sinner.” Yet he assured him that sinners like Matthew were exactly the type of people for whom Jesus had come. He came to call sinners into God’s kingdom.
Whatever your skeletons, whatever your secrets, whatever your sins, you don’t need to be afraid of them. Jesus calls you to confess those sins to him, knowing that he offers full and free forgiveness.
Father in heaven, as you hear me confess my deepest sins, draw my eyes to the Savior who forgave them. Amen.