20 Dec Does God Only Love “Good” People?
I grew up in a wonderful home. My parents were great, we had all the comforts and advantages of southern suburbia, and we were very involved in church. In that kind of environment, it was easy to come to a subtle conclusion: while God loves everybody, he especially loves good people like me.
That’s why coming face to face with the real Jesus of the Gospels is such a shock. As Bill pointed out in the first sermon of the Immanuel series, Jesus came through a lineage of shame and brokenness to show that his salvation is for those who have nothing to offer.
I think it is interesting that Matthew, a former tax collector, is the one who emphasizes this heritage of Jesus. Tax collectors were traitors, sellouts, and turncoats to the Jewish people because they collected taxes and transferred the money to the Roman occupiers.
“Jesus came through a lineage of shame and brokenness to show that his salvation is for those who have nothing to offer.”
Matthew mentions “tax collectors and sinners” over and over again. For him, it must have been amazing to move from a position of complete shame to becoming one of the men Jesus loved the most.
Can you imagine what it was like for him to write that introduction to his account of Jesus’ life? Starting out with the names of those shameful men and women, I can see him thinking, “Wait until you see the rest of the story.”
In Matthew 21:31-32 he brings it full circle when he lumps tax collectors and prostitutes together. “Which of the two obeyed his father?” They replied, “The first.” Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.”
“The message is clear, and one I need to remind myself of every day: the ‘good’ people are often the last people to understand what Jesus offers.”
The message is clear, and one I need to remind myself of every day: the “good” people are often the last people to understand what Jesus offers. But when we are aware of our deep brokenness and shame, the gospel of Christ has the power to change everything. We too, like Matthew, can go from bearer of shame to son or daughter of God.
— David Delk, Executive Pastor
Grace Church Central Staff