Once a zealot and a tax collector went into the Temple together…

by DanWolgemuth on June 26, 2020

Sounds like the opening of a joke. The setup and then the big close.

But the line above is anything but a joke. It’s the truth. And it happened under the intentional and watchful eyes of Jesus.

His crew, His disciples were His to call. His to select.

And He… the Son of God, selected, with full resumes visible, a traitorous Jewish tax collector, and a religious zealot.

One sold out to Rome and the pathway to prosperity, the other, a self-sacrificing radical.

Oil and water… no, more like gasoline and an open flame.

Yet Jesus, with the redemptive future of mankind hanging in the balance, picked these two as a part of His plan. His perfect plan, made up of imperfect people.

Enter Matthew, a self-described “tax collector,” and Simon, a noteworthy Zealot.

The first a sellout, the other a revolutionary.

In the tenth chapter of the book of Matthew, the apostle identifies each of the disciples by name. For some he discloses family of origin. Some by sibling connection. One by his act of betrayal, but only two, Matthew and Simon, are identified by their vocation or affiliation.

Matthew and Simon.

This was no clerical error. No mix up in Human Resources. No misrepresentation on the job application.

This is Jesus, making a point that lingers in the air to this very day.

Unity without diversity is isolation. Unity with diversity is the Kingdom of God.

And Jesus was all about Kingdom. His number one theme.

Your kingdom come,
              your will be done,
                             on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, ESV)

God’s Kingdom. On earth, just as in heaven… where we will gather from every tribe, tongue and nation. Tax collectors and zealots. Once fierce enemies. Haters of each other. Now family. With one Father. And one Lord. And one Spirit.

Not just coexisting, but thriving. Not just surviving, but flourishing.

If Matthew and Simon, then…

All of us. At the confluence of the cross. At the entrance to the empty tomb. Under the flame of the Holy Spirit. In obedience to the God of the Universe.

Hatred extinguished. Grace extended. Love nurtured. God glorified.

Yes, once a zealot and a tax collector went into the Temple together. As brothers. As soldiers for the King.

We are without excuse.

His Kingdom. On earth.

A shared image. A common mission. A perfect rabbi… Jesus.

The reconciler. 

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