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Summary: Matthew: God’s "Invisible Man"

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The 12 Apostles

Week 8 – Matthew

Dr. Rik B. Wadge, Ph.D.

"God’s Invisible Man"

(Nicole Johnson "the invisible woman" VIDEO CLIP #1)

Have you ever been lonely or maybe felt like you were invisible?

In the first century there were a small group of individual’s who were funded by high ranking, ultra-wealthy politicians... they were called tax collectors.

You see, the Tax Collectors were individual’s who lived locally yet exacted the Roman Tax from Jewish citizens, from their neighbors... The Rabbi’s condemned their lifestyles. They were known to be greedy theives who stole from the poor for their own gain. They were considered unclean because of their dealing with gentiles. Some were Jews who even worked on the sabbath. The ancient historians tell us that even the children would spit in the faces of the Tax Collectors. The Rabbi’s would even go so far as to condemn a house as being unclean if a Tax Collector had ever entered it’s doorways.... They were shamed, lonely, and for all intensive purposes.....invisible!

These are the circumstances, this is the background of Matthew. God’s invisible man.

Let’s look at Jesus’ call on Matthew’s life.

Luke 5:27

The Calling of Levi

27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him,

Luke uses his proper name: Levi, which means "one who is joined" typically this would mean to God through the Law. "One who is Joined to the Law."

Now turn to Matthew’s own account of his calling:

Matthew 9:9

The Calling of Matthew

9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

It’s interesting that Matthew uses another name to describe Christ’s calling on his life.... "Matthew." Matthew means: "Gift from Yahweh."

After meeting Christ Matthew has a name change from "one who is joined to God through the law" to "one who has been given a gift from God."

Here, a Tax Collector, lowest of the low. Mentioned in scripture alongside of criminals and prostitutes... has hope!!! Has a sense of wholeness in life.

You see every person’s past can change it’s significance in life, when seen through the lense of the Cross of Christ. When seen through God’s great plan for our lives.

The Old and New testaments alike are filled (as we’ve seen before) with one account after another of how God can take ordinary lifes, with ordinary failures and make extra-ordinary disciples for Christ’s glory!!!!!

So little is known about Matthew’s life. We almost have to extrapolate the setting of his call and conversion. Contemporary authors do a great job describing the call of Matthew.

Here we see Matthew sitting with tax book in hand behind a small table along a busy street in the suburbs. The noise from the crowds hides his silent cries for meaning, for purpose, for human intimacy. At a precise moment in time Matthew’s life takes a turn for all eternity. The noon-day sun blocked by a man’s shadow falls across the page of entries.... and the voice of God bids him "to come."

It’s impossible to summate that apparent epiphany of the moment... but the encounter was on a grand enough scale that a well-to-do businessman gave up probably the only security he knew... to follow a stranger.

How have you been impacted by Jesus Christ? On a grand enough scale to leave all that you knew behind? Grand enough to place all of your trust alone in Him?

What I find to truly be staggering is the emotional impact the next three years must have had on Levi. To go from one who trusted in his relationship with the law, to trusting in God’s abundant grace.

Jesus tells a story about a tax collector, and I just wonder if in part he told this story as an encouragement to Matthew.

Luke 18:9-14

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

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