10 And the crowds asked John the Baptist, ‘What then should we do?’
11In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ 12Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’
13He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’14Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’
Already, the surprising nature of God’s love is beginning to reveal itself.
Matthew writes with apparent shock,
Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’
There are times when I view certain people as “tax-collectors.” Surely, this is not a person who experiences a genuine longing and desire to open to the work of love in their life. Could God’s Spirit really be at work here?
But, right at the outset of the story of Jesus, the unexpected extent of God is announced. God is at work in “Even the tax-collectors.” In the most despised and ostracised members of society, in those who make their living by gouging the last denarius out of the poor to pay taxes to the hated Roman overlords – even there God is at work.
This tendency will only grow more pronounced in Jesus. Jesus burst on the scene shattering the boundaries and parameters of polite society.
Jesus will not let us shelter safely behind our carefully constructed walls delineating who is in and who is out. The love revealed in Jesus knows no boundaries. It is not confined by ethnicity, status, accomplishment, or any delineated behaviour. Jesus shattered social barriers and discarded many of the conventional mores of religious life.
When I live in Jesus, I come out from behind the fortress wall where I have been hiding, and embrace the tax-collectors.
Who are the people I assess as less likely to be those in whom God is at work?
How does it feel to realize that God may be every bit as much at work in the tax-collector’s life as in the lives of those people with whom I feel comfortable?