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Matthew
  
8. The Calling of Matthew, the Tax Collector
(Matthew 9:9-13)
9As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.10Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.11And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”12When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Hosea6:6; Matthew10:3; Mark2:13-17; Luke5:27-32)


Matthew gives evidence to the decisive moment in his life, which he mentions in his gospel that is based on forgiveness. He sets this turning event in his life after the healing of the paralytic to show that he is less than that sick sinner. Tax collectors symbolized, at that time, deception, covetousness, injustice and treachery, being agents of the colonizing authority. They were counted with adulterers, thieves and killers and were damned by the law. Jesus, in calling Matthew, the tax collector, to follow Him, changed his life completely and made of him His authorized apostle in heaven and on earth. This demonstrates that Jesus has the will and the ability to purify the worst sinners. His love also includes you in your commitment to sin and to free you completely from it.
We do not read that Matthew searched for Christ, or had any inclination to follow Him, though perhaps some of his kindred were already listeners of Christ. But Christ showered him with the blessings of His goodness. Christ spoke first calling Matthew and saying to him, “Follow Me.” We have not chosen Him, but He has chosen us. He said to him, “Follow Me,” and the same divine, almighty power accompanied this word to insert everlasting life into Matthew, which attended that word, “Arise and walk,” to heal the paralyzed man.
Christ works a saving change in the soul, and His word is the means. His gospel is the “power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16).
“Follow Me,” was the arrow of Christ, which hit and penetrated the heart of Matthew. His name, before that, was “Levi,” and it became “Matthew, the gift of God.” The word of His Creator from the mouth of Christ is more powerful than thousands of meaningless human books. From this unique word, the gospel of Matthew developed, for the tax collector was accustomed to record the facts strictly. He was the disciple who mastered several languages. He served Jesus through the gifts of his profession. His name in his gospel is only mentioned in this place, while he brings into view, the name, the acts and the powerful words of Christ.
He was so exited at the call of Christ that he made a big feast in his house for Jesus, to which he invited those who wanted to do what God requires. Among the guests were thieves, cheaters, adulterers and the lower classes of men. They saw Christ closely the light to the world, heard His merciful words and accepted His penetrating comfort. From the moment of following Christ, Matthew appeared as a servant and apostle.
The godly and the educated and those who speak about their own righteousness did not recognize the mercy of Christ. Their hearts became hard. They cheated themselves thinking themselves good in their faith and masters of inspiration in the covenant with God. In fact, they were spiritually sick. The sinning sick will become well if they repent and come to Christ. But he that is satisfied with himself falls down into hell. What do you think of your self? Are you good or wicked?
Christ’s call to Matthew was effectual, for he responded quickly to the call. “He arose and followed Him” immediately. He neither denied, nor deferred his obedience. The power of divine grace soon answers and overcomes all objections. Neither his office, nor his gains by it, could detain him, when Christ called him. He did not confer with flesh and blood. He quitted his post and his hopes of preferment. Though we find the other disciples that were fishermen occasionally fishing again, but we never again find Matthew at the receipt of custom.
After Matthew had accepted the call and the following of Christ, he invited Him to his house together with many publicans and sinners. Matthew’s aim was to acquaint his old associates with Christ. He knew by experience what the grace of Christ could do, and would not give up hope for them.
They who have been called to Christ, cannot but be desirous that others also may be brought to Him, and eager to do something about it. True grace will not contentedly eat its morsels alone, but will invite others.
Christ and His intimacy with publicans and sinners disgusted the Pharisees. To be intimate with wicked people was against the law of God (Psalm 119:115). Perhaps by accusing Christ of this to His disciples, they hoped to tempt them away from Him, to put them out of favor with Him and so to bring them over to themselves to be their disciples, who kept better company, for they “travel land and sea to win one proselyte.”
Jesus brought a great change in religious principles, for He has called the godly and the pious perishable and lost on one hand, and called the repentant sinners righteous and blessed on the other. He who thinks himself upright and acceptable to God and men is a real sinner, but he who is ashamed of his wickedness confessing his faults, pleases God and is acceptable to Him. He will hear and respond to the call of Christ, “Follow Me.”
The objector says that Matthew 9:9 mentions that the man whom Christ called at the tax office was called Matthew. In Mark 2:14 the man was called Levi the son of Alphaeus, and in Luke 5:27 he was called Levi only.
The circumstances in which the man was called, as mentioned by each of the evangelists, indicate that he was the same man. Each of them mentioned his well-known job and said that he was sitting at the tax office, and that Christ called him to follow Him.
It was a custom in those days to give a person two names, a Semitic name and a Greek name. Thus, Peter was called Cephas. It is still familiar to us that a man would change his name if he moved from a situation to another (from one religion to another) as an indication of rejection of the previous situation.
Some of the evangelists mentioned his name only without stating his father’s name, since the specific context that is his profession and particular position as sitting at the tax office, is more than sufficient. Thank the Lord that Matthew followed the call of his Lord and Master.

Prayer
O Heavenly Father, I am wicked and my sins are known to You. I thank You for Your Son’s call to me. You do not reject me. Cleanse me of every sin, pride and deceit that I may not continue in my old ways, but become a renewed person connected and united with Your Son Jesus and serve Your love at all times, together with all repenting sinners.
Question
What does Christ’s call to Matthew signify?
PART 1
THE PRELIMINARY PERIOD IN THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST
(MATTHEW 1:1 – 4:25)
PART 2
CHRIST TEACHES AND MINISTERS IN GALILEE
(MATTHEW 5:1 – 11:1)
PART 3
THE UNBELIEVING JEWS AND THEIR ENMITY TO JESUS
(MATTHEW 11:2-18:35)
PART 4
JESUS’ MINISTRY IN THE JORDAN VALLEY DURING HIS JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM
(MATTHEW 19:1 – 20:34)
PART 5
JESUS’ LAST MINISTRIES IN JERUSALEM
(MATTHEW 21:1 – 25:46)
PART 6
CHRIST’S SUFFEINGS AND DEATH
(MATTHEW 26:1-27:66)
PART 7
THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
(MATTHEW 28:1-20)