Faith: Who is Matthew?
A reflection on one of the apostles.
The Apostle Matthew, also known as Levi, are one and the same. He was a tax collector, a publican and was disliked by the Jews. He wrote very little about himself, but Mark and Luke give more of an account of Matthew.
He was the son of Alphaeus. Matthew means "gift of Jehovah" and Levi means "joined." Levi was joined together, conformed to the world of business and money. He was greedy, he was in bondage to the sin of theft, swindling, cheating and leeching off of others for his own personal gain.
Money was his God. He was deceitful and he wanted to make money at the expense of others. He thought his success in life was measured by his wealth.
"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Mark 8:36
"For the love of money is the root of all evil." 1 Timothy 6:10
Our currency says "In God we trust." Do we trust in God or do we trust in our wealth?
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Psalm 14:1
The Bible says: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Mark 10:25
Levi was a tax collector for the Roman revenue. The Jewish people disliked him, to put it mildly. They thought of him as the IRS.
But God saw what others couldn't see - a void in Levi's life. He had a heart that needed to be filled with peace that only could come from God through His Son Jesus Christ, called salvation.
We read in Matthew 9:9 how Matthew became a follower of Jesus: "And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me, And he arose, and followed him."
This shows that Matthew didn't hesitate but immediately followed the Lord. He left everything except the ink and paper to write down the account of his conversion and the mighty saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, as he is the author of the Book of Matthew.
There are other accounts of the calling of Matthew and the other disciples, some of which are found in Mark 3:13-19 and in Luke 5:27-32, which says: "And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me."
Verse 28 says: "And he left all, rose up, and followed him."
In the verses following in 29-32 of Luke, it tells that Matthew (Levi) had Jesus at his house for a feast. And what happens at that feast?
Luke 5:29 says: "And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them."
Verses 30-32 tell of the response of some of those attending: "But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, 'Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?' And Jesus, answering said unto them, 'They that are whole need not a physician: but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'"
Then there is more about the unrighteous in Matthew 3:10: "As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one."
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23
But there is redemption for the sinner! "For whosoever (Roger Lynn Braaten - yes, put your name in there; as yes, your name is in the Bible) shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13
The question is, have you been saved? Have you asked Jesus Christ to be your personal Lord and Savior, and have you asked for forgiveness of your sins?
Matthew became a disciple (follower and learner) of Jesus Christ. It is a display of divine knowledge. The Bible doesn't say that Matthew found Jesus; it says that Jesus found (called) Matthew. God saw Levi become Matthew. He wasn't in church and he wasn't praying; instead, he was going about his daily tax collector business and by divine grace God found him.
Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by Grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
God saw a display of hope. Our hope is in Christ Jesus who is the only one to give eternal life. Behold today is the day of Salvation!
Roger Braaten is pastor at Pine River Baptist Church.