I used to enjoy the t.v. show Taxi, with Danny Devito, the pathetically rotten dispatcher.
Back to that in a minute.
It was the greater D.C. area.
I needed a taxi to Reagan National Airport from the city of Springfield, VA.
Not a short trip.
The government office I was visiting had to call the cab company three times.
Finally–after an hour of pacing the parking lot–a driver showed up.
I asked him what the problem was and why he took so long.
His answer shocked me.
I just got this call 2 minutes ago…I’m not one of the dispatcher’s favorites.
He explained that drivers who wanted the best fares had to pay the dispatcher a kick-back.
Since the government office helping me called and complained three times, and his buddies were busy, the crooked dispatcher had to let this cherished airport run go to one outside his circle.
Think about the tax collectors of Jesus’ day.
Why were they so hated?
Paper existed, but it was likely not used for such trivial matters–receipts for the taxing of a peasant.
What proof was there that a man even paid his tax?
The memory of the person who collected it.
A family that paid tax to the Romans very likely paid an additional bribe, on top of the tax, so to be “remembered” by the publican.
The penalties for not paying Roman taxes were brutish.
No receipts, no peace, just one man on which to rely.
Now you know why they were so despised.
These men were hated and looked down upon by all the Jews of Judea.
Jesus knew how to disrupt things.
The kindness He showed St. Matthew, (a.k.a. Levi) by selecting him as a follower, would be much like the Pope selecting a CEO of Enron or Solyndra to become Cardinal.
Even we religious folks would be outraged, as were the Pharisees regarding Matthew.
No matter how low we’ve sunk, God can still reach us with His mighty hand of redemption.
Promotion in His Kingdom starts where repentance begins.
Danny Devito was just an actor.
God is watching how we act.
And He knows we can act better, with His help, and forgiveness, and yes, even His promotion.