Summary: God calls on us to repent and follow Him. His grace is greater than our sins
Matthew: An Unlikely Calling
Primarily Purpose: God calls on us to repent and follow Him.
When we look at the men that Jesus chose to follow Him. It is surprising that he didn’t go to Rome and preach before Caesar. He didn’t go to Athens and debate philosophy with the scholars of his day. He didn’t appeal to the rich or famous or popular. He chose men and women to follow Him that we might call the forgotten or cast off of society. Common people with common jobs such as fishermen. Some even had careers like Matthew, which made them despised by all.
I imagine Matthew sitting in his tax office that day. Having chased after the god of money for years. He found that it offered no lasting hope. He goes to workt hat day. A man despised by Romans because he is a Jew. Despised and rejected by Jews because he is a traitor. Not allowed to worship God or to present sacrifices for forgiveness of sin. He was considered worse than a Gentile or a dog.
He’s at the end of his rope this day. The passing pleasure of his money isn’t making him feel good anymore. His life seems to be without meaning and purpose. He isn’t loved by anyone. Nobody looks at him in the eyes anymore. His gold keeps him company, but nobody else wants to be around him.
Then he hears that Jesus is passing by, the miracle man of Nazareth. The man who heals people and makes them whole. “What will Jesus say to me”, Matthew wonders. Will he rebuke me before the crowd. Will he judge me as I deserve. What did Jesus just say? Jesus said, “Follow Me.”
I wonder at how Jesus picked his disciples. He didn’t go to the Pharisees school of theology for his students. He didn’t pick the scholars to walk with. They didn’t know they needed him. He came as a physician, to heal us of our sickness called “sin”. Matthew knew he was sick.
1. Jesus called people who understood their need. Jesus still does this. This was one of the purposes of the law. To show us how we don’t measure up. I love the movie “The Climb” that we showed here at the church. In it a man who is self-reliant is brought to that place where he is humbled, where he responses. He’s willing to ask for forgiveness. To seek it. We see Jesus do this with Peter in Luke 5:8. Who could forget the story of Zacchaeus also a tax collector. Zacchaeus a man who was despised. Jesus went and had dinner with him.
1 Cor 1:26-29 says that God has chosen the base things, the humble things that things that are not, that he might receive glory from it. I think of the apostle Paul, who threw Christians into prison and persecuted the church of God. Of this Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:15-16 “. . .Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example to those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”
2. Jesus came to call people who were willing to follow Him. Jesus looked right into the heart of Matthew that day and saw a man who was ready to follow Him. It didn’t matter at all that he was a tax collector. More important than that, he was deeply loved by God and of infinite worth to God. The Pharisees wouldn’t look at him, but Jesus looked at him and loved him. Jesus desires to transform us, but he doesn’t do it against our will. Look at what it says in John 1:11-12 “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet, to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
How that must break the heart of God, when someone chooses to go their own way and to reject him. Yet, he allows you to do that if you chose. He won’t force you into heaven.
3. Jesus came to call people to share His good news. V.10 Matthew immediately invites his friends and those who he had contact with. This just happens to be the worst of the worst in the society that he lives in. It was the harlots and the criminals and the homeless and those that lived in the gutters that Matthew knew. So, he calls them all together and has a festival. He’s celebrating his new life in Christ. He wants others to know what has happened to him. He doesn’t keep the gospel to himself. The Pharisees should be rejoicing. Heaven was rejoicing that day. Scripture tells us that the angels sing over one who comes to know Christ. Yet, the Pharisees are indiginant over Jesus.