Third Sunday after Pentecost June 21, 2020
Text: Matthew 9:9-13 CW – Series A 20:2200
Theme: Changed by the Call: “Follow Me!”
I. It’s a gracious invitation.
His name was Levi, at least that is what the other Gospel writers tell us (Mk.2; Lk.5). He was a tax collector. He sat by the side of the road in Galilee in his toll booth. You have seen booths with a similar purpose on some of our highways, usually interstate highways. You are travelling along and then suddenly you see a sign that says, SLOW – TOLL BOOTH AHEAD. Get in the right lane. Or perhaps a little bit closer to Levi’s job you see a sign for truck drivers to pull over at the next weigh station. That is a little more like the job that Levi had. He taxed all the goods and services that travelled the roads of the Roman Empire, leading into the northern part of Palestine. The heavier the load, the bigger the vehicle, the more precious the load, the more one paid in fees.
In Jesus’ day, the Romans wanted their taxes, but they didn’t collect it themselves. They hired the locals to do the job for them. We don’t know how it happened, but Levi, a Jew became such a collector for the hated Roman conquerors. The Romans did not give the toll collectors a limit on the amount of money they could collect. They just wanted their share. The more collected, the more one could keep for himself above what Rome wanted. So, tax collectors, like Levi, took advantage and made themselves rich at the expense of their fellow countrymen. “Traitors, thieves!” they were called. They were despised by their own people.
One day something strange happened to Levi as he sat at his booth, something that changed his life and outlook on it.
As he sat in his tollhouse, a crowd approached. They were following a man, intent on listening to Him. It must be that new Teacher about whom Levi had heard, the one who performed miracles and taught with heavenly authority, unlike the Jewish law teachers. It was not likely that Levi would get a closer look at Him. For such a righteous Teacher would not want to dirty Himself by passing near a socially outcast sinner like Levi.
But this teacher was not like other teachers. He did not seem to hate Levi; neither was He afraid to stop and visit with him. He halted right outside the toll booth and looked at Levi with a look that pierced his soul. There was love in that look and compassion and a promise of help. The words He spoke were short and to the point: “Follow Me!”
“Follow Me!” the Lord Jesus called. “Be my disciple.” It was all He said. Levi got up and went. He left the tollhouse and his chance of becoming richer still. He left behind his traitorous and thieving way of life. Did he fully understand yet what this meant? I don’t know. It’s doubtful, for a disciple is a learner and Levi had just begun to learn. But he understood that this Man could help him escape his burdened conscience and rotten way of life. He knew that this Man was from God. Could He be the long-awaited Savior? “Follow Me!” the Lord Jesus called. It was a gracious invitation that changed Levi – Levi of all people! A call to draw near to Jesus. More than anything else, Levi wanted to be near Him.
Have you seen that look of Jesus that Levi saw, that look of mercy and help and grace? Have you heard that call that changes one’s life: “Follow Me!” You’ll hear it here, in the Bible. It comes to you every time you listen to the Gospel as the heavenly Father, the best Father of all, draws you to His Son.
You know, there are special hours of grace which God sends each of us through His Word for His will is that you believe on His Son whom He sent to be a ransom for all people. Speaking of tolls, Jesus paid the highest toll of all – His life for yours. He gave it willingly, not grudgingly so that You might draw near to Him. Then He passes by you daily, here, issuing His call, a gracious invitation to change and walk with Him.
II. It leads to a break from the past and a new life before us.
This gracious invitation was so wonderful that Levi dropped everything he was doing so that he might follow Him. And he could not keep it to himself. He planned a big dinner and invited his friends to meet the Savior. Oh, yes, Levi had friends, but they were not the kind of friends that most people wanted. They were society’s outcasts, the reprobates, the riffraff of the town, the ones that the Jewish rabbis would kick out of the synagogue. And he invited his fellow tax collectors. But if Jesus was willing and able to help Levi, He could help these people too.
This was a break from Levi’s past. Before this Savior came to him, Levi thought only of himself. But no more! Such a wonderful thing changed his life, a Savior who cared for all people, no matter how far they had strayed in the past! Such a wonderful thing cannot be kept to one’s self when there are so many others like him that are hurting in the world. God wants them as well to know the special hour of grace that He sends us in Christ. So, Levi invited them to his house to meet Him.
The Jewish leaders saw Jesus and His disciples enter there. They would never dream of going into that house, through that door, to sit by that man. Levi was so filthy in their eyes that he was not fit company for any good Jew.
“How can you lower yourselves?” they asked the disciples, “to be with such awful people!”
Ah, the Pharisees and scribes were extremely proud of themselves and what they considered the exemplary way of life. They kept God’s commands carefully, but they only did it with their hands and they had forgotten that God’s redeeming love comes from the heart that reaches out to others – from His heart to others. It overflows with new life that He lays before all who change and break from the past to live in the Savior’s forgiveness.
The Pharisees asked the disciples, but Jesus answered for He understood that they needed the Savior as much as anyone else. “Healthy people don’t need a doctor,” He responded. Sick people do. I came to help the sick.” He meant the sinner, those spiritually sick in the heart. And then He gave them something to think about. “Sacrifices are not enough. God works in mercy and in love.”
They could hardly avoid the question; we can’t either: The question is this: “Am I sick within? Do I need a Savior?” Yes, whether great or small, rich or poor, among the mighty or the lowly, all need His redeeming love and dare not rely on their own abilities which always fall short of perfection.
The story is told of a little girl sitting in church, snuggled at her mother’s side. Her eyes were intent on the picture of Jesus that she had in her Sunday school lesson. Looking up into her mother’s face and pointing to the picture of the Savior, she whispered with a happiness that lit up her face: “He loved me!”
Such a simple thought, eh? And yet so profound. Yes, He loved her! And He loves us all, even those whom others consider as reprobates of society. If only we who are older could always remember with joy and gratitude the love which we felt He had for us as little children. If only we could repeat with the same fervency and affection the simple words of St. Paul: “He loved me and gave Himself for me” (Ga.2:20). For such a one, life is changed.
Everything needed for time and eternity is summed up in the simple sweetness of those tender words. Does the world hate me? He loved me! Do I find the way that I have carved out for myself difficult, the path dark, the night lonely, the world friendless? He loved me! Does the shadow of yesterday’s burdens haunt my step and make me falter? He loved me, and that never changes. It lasts forever. But it changes me when He calls: “Follow me” and I drop all that I so falsely think is important to draw near Him. It’s a gracious invitation that leads to a break from the past and a new life ahead of me all because He loved me and gave Himself for me.
It changed a traitor and a thief sitting in a toll booth. Its truth even changed His name. You know this Levi better as Matthew. That name means “Gift of Jahweh.” Personally, I think Jesus gave him that “new” name when He called him to follow. I don’t know that for sure. But what I do know is that Matthew never refers to himself as Levi. Because of the gift that Jesus gave Him, the gift of His redeeming love, Matthew’s life changed. He broke from the past, and he never went back to the old life of Levi.
The Lord has given us a new name also, a name that calls us His, a name that bids us, “Follow me.” Changed by the Call we follow. God grant it in our lives of faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield
4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)
Church phone: 417.887.0886 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244
You can also find us on facebook
The Third Sunday after Pentecost June 21, 2020
“As Jesus went from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told him, and Matthew got up and followed Him.” Matthew 9:9-10
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
We extend a warm and sincere welcome in our Savior’s name. Please sign our guest book, located to the right just outside the sanctuary. If you desire more information about Zion Lutheran Church or are in need of spiritual guidance, please call upon our pastor at any time. We are delighted to have you join us today and invite you to return soon.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“O LORD, You have searched me and You know me…You perceive my thoughts from afar….Your right hand will hold me fast….I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made….When I awake, I am still with You” (Psalm 139)
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
“Follow Me.” What leads one to follow the Lord Jesus when He calls and to keep following Him through life? Answer: awareness of one’s need that His mercy fills.
For example, Israel felt like they were torn to pieces by adversity in our first lesson today. God allowed it to happen, but with the loving intent that they might feel their need and return to Him for help.
Matthew the tax collector felt it too; so did Abraham. All felt a need that only Christ could fill. And as they turned to Him and followed Him in faith, each one’s specific needs were met. Even should He tear someone to pieces, as they return to follow Him, He assures that His mercy and His love will meet their need. Trusting Him, they follow.
To that end we pray: O God, the strength of all who trust in You, mercifully hear our prayers. Be gracious to us in our weakness and give us strength to walk with You; for Jesus’ sake we pray. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
Old Testament Lesson: Hosea 5:15-6:6
When Israel no longer listened to God, He let them have their way. As a result, they suffered mightily. But if they would return in repentance and follow in His ways again, He promised to receive them back and refresh them by supplying their needs.
Today’s Epistle Lesson: Romans 4:18-25
Faith links the believer to God and His blessings. Abraham had such a faith that took God at His Word and believed Him even though it seemed like the impossible could never happen. As such he serves as an example for us of what it means to follow in faith.
Today’s Gospel Lesson: Matthew 9:9-13
Jesus calls Matthew to follow Him as one of His Twelve apostles. When the Pharisees grumble at Jesus’ association with sinners, He teaches of God’s mercy. As a doctor’s purpose is to help the sick, so Jesus came to heal sin-sick souls that they might follow Him from earth to heaven.
O u r P r a c t i c e o f H o l y C o m m u n i o n
The Lord’s Supper is a wonderful gift in which we receive Jesus’ own body and blood to forgive our sins and strengthen us in faith. It is a gift given with certain responsibilities. The Sacrament is intended for those who have been instructed, understand, and confess as one what they are receiving and doing. Through it we express our unity of faith (1 Cor.10:17). Therefore, we ask that only confirmed members of Zion Lutheran Church or our sister congregations of the WELS or ELS approach to receive Communion. If you would like to become a communicant member of Zion or have any questions about our practice, the pastor would be happy to meet with you after the service.
Today’s Organist: Jane Rips The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder Point to Ponder: “Sinners are lovely because they are loved; they are not loved because they are lovely. That is why the love of man avoids sinners and evil persons [they aren’t lovely enough]. But Christ says, ‘I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ This is the love of the cross, which does not go where it may find something good to enjoy, but where it may confer good upon the poor and the needy.” — Martin Luther on God Loves the Unlovely into Loveliness
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Hymn: #240
Order of Worship: Service of Word and Sacrament
Hymnal page 26
The Ministry of the Word
Duet: Blessed Are They Which Are Called
The Gospel Response: pg.30
Sermon Hymn: #463
Sermon: Matthew 9:9-13
Changed by the Call: “Follow Me”
Our Response to the Word
Nicene Creed: page 31
Prayer & Lord’s Prayer: Hymnal page 32
The Lord Blesses Us
The Order of Holy Communion: Hymnal pages 33-35
(Visitors: Please read box inside about the practice of Holy Communion)
Distribution Hymn: #506
Thanksgiving & Blessing: Hymnal pages 36-37
The Third Sunday after Pentecost – Series A
Old Testament Lesson: Hosea 5:15-6:6: Israel Unrepentant
15“I will go. I will return to my place until they are judged guilty, and they seek my face in their distress. They will seek me eagerly.”
6:1Come, let us return to the Lord. He himself has torn us, but he will heal us. He is wounding us, but he will bandage us. 2He will restore us to life after two days. On the third day he will raise us so that we may live before him. 3We will know. We will pursue knowledge of the Lord. His coming forth is as sure as the coming of dawn. He comes to us like the rain, like the spring rain that waters the earth.”
4“What will I do to you, Ephraim? What will I do to you, Judah? Your loyalty is like a mist in the morning, like early morning dew that goes away. 5That is why I have cut them into pieces by the prophets. I have killed them by the words of my mouth. The judgments against you are spreading out like light. 6I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Epistle Lesson: Romans 4:18-25: Abraham Trusts God’s Promises
18Hoping beyond what he could expect, he believed that he would become the father of many nations, just as he was told: “This is how many your descendants will be.” 19He did not weaken in faith, even though he considered his own body as good as dead (because he was about one hundred years old), and even though he considered Sarah’s womb to be dead. 20He did not waver in unbelief with respect to God’s promise, but he grew strong in faith, giving glory to God 21and being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”
23Now the statement “it was credited to him” was not written for him alone, 24but also for us to whom it would be credited, namely, to us who believe in the one who raised our Lord Jesus from the dead. 25He was handed over to death because of our trespasses and was raised to life because of our justification.
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 9:9-13: Jesus Calls Matthew to Follow Him
9As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting in the tax collector’s booth. He said to him, “Follow me.” Matthew got up and followed him.
10As Jesus was reclining at the table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were actually there too, eating with Jesus and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “The healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. 13Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ In fact, I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2017 The Wartburg Project.
C a l e n d a r & A n n o u n c e m e n t s f o r Z i o n L u t h e r a n C h u r c h
Divine Worship Service on line – Facebook
Fellowship & Bible Study
| Some weekly activities are still curtailed.
Midweek Bible Class has resumed.
Divine Worship Service on line – Facebook
Fellowship & Bible study
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
Trusting people isn’t easy, because people tend to let us down. It’s also hard to confess our sin to others because we’re afraid that people will use our sins and mistakes against us and hold a grudge. We shouldn’t have the same concerns with our Savior! Jesus is entirely trustworthy. He keeps his promises! Most of all, He keeps His promise of forgiveness through the gospel. We can confidently confess our sin to Him, knowing that in Him we have certain forgiveness and eternal life.
The Gospel Lesson: Matthew 9:9-13 (answers are found on the back side)
- Why were Jesus’ actions so repulsive to the Pharisees?
- What did Jesus want the Pharisees to learn?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Dea Windsor; Barbara Long; Clyde & Sharon Johnson; Angela Meek; Roger & Liz Lisenby’s brother & sister-in-law and granddaughter Jackie; Dave Ballou, at home; Laurie Moon’s father, out of the rehab hospital; Greg Miller; Casey Milam & family, Jodie’s son, under quarantine.
WELS Minnesota District Since the district conventions will not be held this June due to pandemic restrictions, Chris Bruck, Marty Frey, and Pastor took part in on-line voting this past week to fulfill the two-year terms of the district officers. All the officers elected are in the active ministry and serve congregations in Minnesota. Elected were: District President – Rev. Dennis Klatt; 1st V.P. – Rev. Jon Brohn; 2nd V.P. – Rev. Wayne Schoch; and Sec./Treas. – Rev. Michael Hatzung.
Gathering Guidelines As of last week we are allowed gatherings of 50% of capacity of the building in Greene County and Springfield. We still must practice distancing in a gathering of 3 feet at the present time. For those attending, please watch your distancing. If you prefer wearing a face mask during the service, that is totally acceptable. At this point we are not passing the offering plate during the service, but it will be found at the door upon leaving.
Daily Devotions If you would like a hard copy of pastor’s daily devotions for the week past, you will find a few on the credenza in the narthex. If you would like to receive them through text on your cell phone or by email, let him know.
Meditations’ present series of devotions and copies of June’s Forward in Christ may be found in the narthex. Northwestern Publishing House is still offering Forward in Christ on-line for the month of June. After that, the online issue will not be continued. There are many materials they suggest at this time. You can see them all at: www.nph.net.
The Week in Review
Last Sunday’s Worship Attendance: 29; Adult Bible Class & Sunday School: no classes at this time; The Gardens Bible Class: no class; Midweek Bible Class: 6; Offering: $2,500.
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Pentecost 4 – Series A: Exodus 19:2-8; Romans 5:6-11; Matthew 9:35-10:8
Answers to Today’s Gospel Lesson Brief Study:
- They couldn’t believe that Jesus would eat with tax collectors and sinners. Neither could they believe that Jesus would call a tax collector to be His disciple.
- He wanted them to learn what the Lord meant through the prophet Hosea when He said: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Jesus’ meaning is this: God has been merciful and forgiving to us, and He wants us to be merciful and forgiving toward one another. Jesus was showing mercy to these “sinners,” something the Pharisees didn’t want to do.
This week I am praying for……