Randy and I were happy as teachers. We worked hard to train for this calling of God for seemingly years. Miracles of God’s care flowed in every detail of doing His will. We gave up seeking the frivolous, as most of our friends did, to seeking real purpose for life. God led us to be public school teachers who knew Him and provided the way to attain the training needed while being married and raising three children. Finally, we achieved our goals by being chosen as teachers. We taught for a while until a new, fresh calling was revealed by our Father.
God called us to leave teaching, using what we had learned in teaching to serve full time for His church. We followed. It was scary. It required more training. It was life-changing, but we followed knowing He knew what was best for us. God had a purpose to fulfill in us for His glory. He is still doing that even in our “retirement” days. We are not the only ones, believe me! Being called, chosen for a work for such a time as this, has been God’s way throughout the centuries of mankind. God Word is full of stories of His glory, teaching His children to obey His calling on their lives!
Matthew, a Jewish man, had counting skills and was obviously a man to be trusted for correctness in his accounting. So, he was chosen by the Romans, the oppressors of the Jews, to collect exorbitant taxes from his own people. Accepting this role meant being shunned by his family and all his friends. He was now their enemy, a tax collector who used his skills for the enemy.
Matthew knew enough about The Law to be somewhat intrigued by a Man who walked by his booth often. Matthew’s curiosity grew as crowds began to follow this man. He heard the stories of healing, restoring sight to the blind and making the lame to walk. He was calculating how many ways this Man was healing. He craned his neck from side to side each time this Man passed by, so he could get a glimpse of Him. Then Matthew, stuck in his booth with bars on the windows to protect him from his own people, would go back to his chosen work.
Matthew did his work as he always did until the day Jesus came, looked him right in the eyes with compassion and said to Matthew, “Follow Me”. In two simple words, Matthew heard, leave this calling, chosen by the oppressors, for Me and My calling for you. Those eyes seem to say, I know you. I love you. I know where you have been and what you have done. His voice said, “Follow Me. Be my disciple.” I will teach you how to do a new work. Simple words for a great calling to now belong to Jesus.
Matthew—The Law Fulfilled
Matthew 9:9-13, NLT
Jesus Calls Matthew
9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.
10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”
12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
LET’S GO A BIT DEEPER…
Matthew knew who he was, a sinner. Jesus knew that Matthew knew he was a sinner in need of a Savior. THAT is what attracted Jesus to Matthew, the tax collector! Jesus comes to those who know they are sinners. “All have sinned and come short of God’s glory.” Paul writes later to the churches establishing in Rome. Let’s take a look at the whole passage in Romans 3:21-24, Msg, and flesh out this commonly quoted phrase;
“This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.
God Has Set Things Right
21-24 But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him.”
Matthew is called, chosen to be justified (just as if he had never sinned) by Jesus. His slate of sin wiped clean by Jesus Christ. He was made “right” from all his past deeds. He was ready to follow Jesus into a new life of love, trust and obedience. Who could want anything more?
Joyfully, Matthew leaves his cage of collecting to follow the one who collects sinners and sets them free to love and serve like Jesus. Matthew, a quick learning, wants to serve Jesus immediately by inviting him to his house for a meal to honor the One and Only who takes away the sin of the world. A sinner invites Jesus to his house! Imagine what the church leaders are saying. Wait, we don’t have to imagine. The work of Jesus is fulfilled by the prophets who wrote earlier that the Messiah would serve in this very way! Jesus came to seek and to save the lost who KNOW they are sinners. Matthew is a sinner justified and made whole by Jesus. He invited his friends in the tax collecting world to know Jesus, too! Matthew leaves one calling for another in obedience.
Later, Matthew will describe Jesus as “a friend to sinners”. (Matthew 11) Who would know better than Matthew? Jesus is our Friend, Advocate to the Father, and the Redeemer of all sin. Jesus came to die and rise again, to justify our sin, each one of us, no matter where we have been or what we’ve done or doing right now. He stands ready to forgive confessed sin and wipe the slate clean. Jesus our Savior wants to be the Lord of all we think, do or say. What a testimony Matthew has written about what Jesus did for him!
Abba, Father in Heaven,
Great are you, Lord! I am so grateful for your saving grace. I am a sinner saved only by your grace. I am not perfect for sure, but perfectly forgiven. I will live life by asking what you want with a willingness to obey. Change and transform me continually to be all you want me to be.
In Jesus Name, Amen