Summary: What did Jesus see in you when he called you? He saw something in Matthew that we probably couldn’t see. Are there some "Matthew’s" around us that Jesus wants us to bring to him?
The Call of Matthew
By Pastor Jim May
Mark 2:13-17, "And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Matthew 9:9-13, "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.
Luke 5:27-32, "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.
Jesus was always teaching people while He walked along the seashore of the Sea of Galilee. His life was one long teaching session.
In Romans 11:33 Paul tells us that God is more than we could ever imagine. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
Jesus wanted man to know Him and to accept Him as God, yet he knew that most would never accept Him, nor believe that Jesus was the very Son of God. But part of the reason that God took on the form of human flesh was so that he could reveal who he was and what he was all about. There was so much to learn and so little time for mankind to receive it.
Jesus used every opportunity to teach, so even in the calling of his disciples there are lessons to be learned. The call of Matthew to be his disciple was one of those occasions.
As I have read, you can see that both Mark and Luke call him Levi. The only one of the four gospel’s of the New Testament to call him Matthew is the Book of Matthew. Why would Matthew call him Matthew? The answer is that Matthew wrote the book and he chose to use his own name, Matthew, and not Levi. While this is not a mistake in any of the books, it does show that men controlled what they were writing even though the Holy Spirit was inspiring them to write. The humanity of the writers always shows through in each book of the Bible.
And so it is with your life. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3, "Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." You are being led by the Holy Spirit as you walk through life. In effect, he is telling you what to write in the book of your own life that you are living for Him and through him. The testimony of your life in Christ is an open book for all to read, and right in the middle of all that the Holy Spirit is leading you to do, your own personality and character shows through.
That’s what was happening in the writing of the Books of the Bible as well.
Matthew, or Levi, was a Tax Collector for the Roman government. Jesus was looking for Matthew as he walked along. He already knew who he would call to be his disciple. He knew that Matthew would be there that day, in his place, and it was that steadiness, and sometimes defiant strength that Jesus was looking for in a disciple. Anyone who would follow Jesus for the next few years would have to be a pretty strong willed and defiant person. No wimps could stand the pressure that would come to bear on the disciples. Jesus didn’t need a weakling; he needed some real men, who would stand up for what they believed in at all costs.
As Jesus walked along when He finds Matthew sitting in a tax booth. The tax booth was not a shaky four-sided wood frame with large openings on each side. History tells us that the tax booth stood high above the ground, much like a very elaborate life-guard station on a beach. It was designed to help the tax collector see boats and people coming and going. The tax collector could watch what type of business was going on in every direction and then approach the individual or individuals and collect taxes. The tax booth was located along a major commercial trade route that connected Damascus and the Mediterranean Sea.