Matthew was inspired by God to walk with Christ, the One who the prophets talked about, the One who would be the Redeemer of those in bondage—and then writes about his journey with Jesus. Matthew’s life testimony is told in two parts: Before Jesus and After Jesus. Before Jesus, Matthew was given enough wisdom skills to create ledgers of accurate accounting so he could collect the taxes from his own people, the Jewish nation, “God’s chosen”. He learned how to set aside some of the “collection” to make a comfortable living for himself. The rest, the bulk of the collection demanded, went to the Roman oppressors who ruled over the Jewish nation at the time. You could say, “the rich got richer and the poor got poorer” as an appropriate assessment of the situation and living conditions at the time Jesus walked the earth.
Matthew did his work well or he would not have been asked to do it. His family, most likely disowned him. The Jewish community hated tax collectors who demanded more than they could possibly give. We must admit, we shiver at the thought of getting a letter from the IRS in these times, right? Our first thought, is what did I (or my accountant/tax preparer) do wrong? Seldom do we get a letter that says, “we owe you…”. Right? Now compound those thoughts with being asked to pay what is unfair so that you are kept poor for the purpose of controlling you.
Then Jesus comes to town and Matthew is drawn to this man who talks about the Kingdom of God in ways he has never heard. When Jesus looks over at Matthew, it is as if this teacher or prophet, he can’t quite decide, is looking through him right into the depths of his soul. Matthew knows just enough of his upbringing in the Jewish faith to be curious about him with a desire to know more. So, he watches Jesus each day with his calculating mind while trying to put all the pieces together. Then one day, right in the middle of his work of collecting at this booth, Jesus passes by again, stops and asks, “Follow me, Matthew.” Matthew leaves his work to follow Jesus.
The disciples have been chosen. (See yesterday’s blog.) A seminar of instructions for discipleship making, healing, and demon casting 101 has been firmly delivered by Jesus, the Master Teacher. Jesus is now encountered and questioned by the followers of John, aka The Baptizer, who preached about the One who would “come and take away the sins of the world” out in the wilderness. John’s followers come to town and are asking Jesus, are YOU indeed the One?
Jesus makes a statement that leaps into my thoughts, “…wisdom is shown to be right by its results.” Matthew, with a results oriented mind, writes these words at the end of Jesus telling John’s disciples what God has done through Jesus. Jesus sends them back to John with, “…tell him (John) what you have heard and seen”. Right wisdom produces right results.
The best way to discern right hearts of others is by what their lives produce in Biblical behaviors. If behaviors match what they say they believe in faith about God mostly likely their first response will be with wisdom motivated by a right heat. Matthew will write of Jesus preaching to the Pharisees about their hearts’ motivation. “For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matthew 12:34-37, NLT) Again, written by a driven calculating results mind! But we get the picture!
PAUSE TO PRAY
Our heart, writes Matthew, is a “treasury”. Accountant-speak! (Smiling as I write this…) But, seriouisly, I must pause to pray and ask what is in the treasury of my heart today? If right wisdom produces right results in the eyes of our Lord, is what I am saving up that is good and right? Results of my life must be led by God daily. What flows from my heart’s treasury will tell the true story. What am I showing and telling? What is my savings plan?
Matthew—The Law Fulfilled
Matthew 11:1-18, NLT
Jesus and John the Baptist
11 When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region.
2 John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, 3 “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
4 Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 5 the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” 6 And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”
7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 8 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. 9 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 10 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,
‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way before you.’
11 “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! 12 And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it. 13 For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. 14 And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. 15 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!
16 “To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,
17 ‘We played wedding songs,
and you didn’t dance,
so we played funeral songs,
and you didn’t mourn.’
18 For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”
John’s followers go back to him to tell the story and what they had seen and heard. John was affirmed in what God had given him to be and do. Right wisdom yielded right results for God’s Kingdom.
Abba, Father in Heaven,
I wake each day asking what you want me to be and do for this day. I am always amazed by the way you lead me, what you ask me to do or not do. I am grateful for your protection from situations I need not be walking toward. I love they way you lead us through troubling times of confusion only to reveal truth. Yes, your right wisdom working in us and through us produces right results. Deliver us from evil. Speak to our hearts and help us to hear your voice above all others and follow you. You are the One and Only who holds all the answers to our questions. You are Savior. You are Lord. Continue to call us, teach and equip us, give us wisdom, while helping us save up what is good in the treasury of our hearts for our brief journey here in preparation for life eternal with you some glorious day.
In Jesus Name, Amen