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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“That’s What I Thought”

by DanWolgemuth on June 19, 2020

Lines have been drawn. Walls have been built. Headlines have been created. Fights have been picked. Posts have been written. Friends have been unfriended.
 
Hostility is the dial tone of the day.
 
But conflict isn’t new. Neither is prejudice or injustice or hatred. And Jesus, the Savior who we follow, endured all of it. And not from some fringe group, but from the religious elite. From the politically threatened. From the governing weak. From His closest followers. From us. From me.
 
Yet. But.
 
Friends.
 
Jesus. Is not only familiar with us. He not only notices us. Incredibly, He knows my name… Yet. But…
 
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15, ESV)
 
Friends.
 
This is not the unmerited title I give to Him, it’s the relationship He defines for me. For us. Friends. A relationship He paid for. A relationship He bled for.
 
Yet. But. We give ourselves permission to hate. We imbibe the toxic cocktail of our culture… while our friend, The Friend; Jesus the Righteous looks on in grief.

  • He calls us friend… and we lash out in self-defense.
  • He calls us friend… and we ignore the pain of brothers and sisters who don’t think or look or behave like we do.
  • He calls us friend… and we opt to pour fuel on the fire of bitterness.
  • He calls us friend… and we don’t have time to listen to somebody else tell their story.
  • He calls us friend… and we hunker down with an editorial perspective that suits our view.
  • He calls us friend… and He instructs us to “Follow me.”
  • He calls us friend…

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14, ESV)

He. Jesus. Is our friend. And He. Jesus. With His own broken flesh. Has broken down the dividing wall of hostility.

So why are we still wearing a toolbelt to rebuild it? Why do we give ourselves permission to consider each other in a way that Jesus didn’t?

He calls us His friend. Let that sink in. And guess what… that brother or sister that looks different than you… you got it. His friend as well. That brother or sister who you think is wrong… His friend.

So I’m just asking… shouldn’t friends of Jesus be friends of each other?

That’s what I thought.

Our merciful Father, sent His righteous and holy son. And He, Jesus, is our friend.

Friends… let that sink in. Let that change you. Change me.

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Corporate Confession – Amazing Grace – Mama Jones

June 12, 2020

1974. I was 19. Just finishing my first year in college. Roughly 600 miles from where I lived in a dormitory, a young, lovely woman, walked into a Youth For Christ facility in Kansas City, Missouri. She was joined by a few of her family and friends. They were with her, at her invitation to […]

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The cameras speak, and the world listens.

June 5, 2020

Then, an electronic inquisition. Google explodes with the name of the deceased. A resume or a criminal record will tell the story. The past narrates the present. Either “Of course…” or “How could they…” A value assessment becomes a fork in the road on our way to a juryless verdict. Guilty or innocent? Villain or […]

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“Don’t You Care?”

May 29, 2020

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” (Mark 4:38, NLT) “Don’t you care?” Desperation amplified their voices to a shout. Above the roar of the storm. Unfiltered. “Don’t you care?” The reality […]

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“The Blame Game”

May 15, 2020

Don’t be fooled, blame is not a game. But whatever it is, we’re seeing it perfected in our current culture. The flaming arrows of accusation fly. The shield of denial is thick. Headlines tilt. Interviews slant. And we peddle blame like an ice cream truck pushes Slushies in the middle of July. Our appetite for […]

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Time to Unmute

May 8, 2020

Zoom. A word that used to mean momentum. A word often associated with little boys and Matchbox cars. Today, Zoom is a video lifeline to faces and images and shared documents, and communication. It is a pathway. On many of the Zoom calls I participate in, I am either the Host or Co-Host. This hierarchy […]

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“The Boss of Me…”

May 1, 2020

Nick Parker was a friend of our boys during a season in our lives when we lived in Franklin, Tennessee. He lived about a block from our house, and would often wander our way to play in our cul-de-sac, or down by a small pond behind our home. Nick was athletic, even as a first […]

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From Wuhan to Bethlehem

April 24, 2020

6900 miles. That’s how far it is from Wuhan, China to Denver. 6900 miles from the genesis of a global disease. A genesis that will be the topic of discussion and speculation and accusation and fury for years to come. The stuff of theories and books and movies. A virus. Small. Contagious. And swift. 6900 […]

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Re…

April 17, 2020

Re… cession. We’re all hearing it. Perhaps the worst in my lifetime, and likely yours. Global economic loss. Unemployment soaring. Uncertainty with tsunami force. Governments pressing into when to re… start economic activity. Daily lives, now re… coiling. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us… (Ephesians […]

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