Summary: Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus saw Matthew’s need, his worth and his potential. Matthew understood his own need, was willing to follow Christ and shared the Good News.
We are going to look at a man called Levi (also called Matthew in Matt 9:9-12). I will use the more familiar name Matthew here.
It is surprising that Jesus would even call a tax-collector to follow Him.
• Jesus was preparing a group of disciples who would eventually bring the good news about God’s salvation to the world.
• And among the people He has chosen, Levi was one of them. Nobody expected that.
• Today we are hard-pressed to find good, talented and intelligent leaders to run companies and govern nation, but Jesus chose a tax-collector.
Matthew was a tax-collector, despised by the people because they were seen as traitors. For two reasons -
• (1) They work for the oppressors – the Romans – collecting taxes.
• And (2) they get rich by charging high taxes, far in excess of what Rome require. They enforced payment by using the Roman soldiers.
They are the outcast. They are sinners. How can Jesus accept such a person?
• Why not, Jesus replied. The sick needs a doctor. “I’ve come to call sinners to repentance,” He said.
People look at Matthew’s sin. Jesus looks at his need.
• People look at Matthew’s sickness. Jesus looks at the cure.
• Jesus has come to seek and save the lost.
1. Matthew Understood His Need
Matthew responded in that manner because he knew his need.
• He is not going to stay by the booth for the rest of his life.
• There is something that is not right and he knows it.
• Jesus said it plainly; the sick and the sinners need help.
• If Matthew was nearby, he could have heard it and probably realised that Jesus was referring to him. He was humble enough to admit his need. He is sick man in need of a doctor; a sinner in need of repentance.
Do you know what you need? Do you know you need Jesus?
We don’t often know our need, until someone tells us.
• We don’t know what our body needs, until the doctor tells us so.
• We don’t know the purpose of living, until we hear God’s Word.
• Matthew heard Jesus’ call. He knows Jesus has the answer he is looking for.
There are those in the crowd that day who did not feel that they need Jesus.
• They are the good and righteous ones. They felt decent, unlike Matthew.
• But they are wrong. They did not know they are sick.
• They are sinners, just like Matthew, just that they are sinning in different ways.
We are all sinners, the Bible says. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23). Many in the crowd were blinded to this fact.
Matthew knew he needed help. He made the wise choice to follow Jesus.
• Money did not give him a happy life. He was despised and rejected by the people.
• The daily routine of collecting taxes (and cheating the people of their money) did not bring him fulfilment.
• He was looking for something more. He knows he is a sick man in need of a doctor.
And then Jesus came by.
• “What will Jesus say to me”, Matthew wonders. “Will he rebuke me before the crowd?” Surprisingly NO.
• Jesus called him, “Follow Me.” Jesus wants him.
• The Lord, who heals people and makes them whole, called him. Nobody wants him except Jesus.
Jesus was not ashamed to call him. No one would want to associate with this kind of people, but Jesus went to his house and ate with them.
• He has come to heal the sickness of man – the Bible calls it “sin”.
• No one is beyond redemption. No sinner is beyond cure.
2. Matthew Was Willing to Follow Jesus
Following Christ is not always an easy thing, but Matthew saw that it was worth it.
• Jesus once said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Matt 13:45-46)
• Matthew is looking for a more meaningful and purposeful life.
Jim Elliot (a missionary who was killed in South America in the late 50’s) said: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
• Matthew let go of his monies and his booth – the stuff that he cannot keep forever, and held on to Jesus, whom he believe can give him a new life, one that he can never lose.
• He let go of things temporary and transient. And hold on to things that are eternal.
• Learn to let go. This world can never satisfy our longings.