Summary: Watch how Jesus’ compassion changed a materialistic person into a disciple.
It’s been incredibly rewarding and at the same time very busy with the arrival of Hannah. I’m very thankful for the meals some of you have dropped off to make our adjustment easier over the past week and a half. Elon suggested that we would call this ministry MACC Meals Ministry, the Marin Asian Community Church Meals Ministry.
We’re returning to our monthly series with the study of characters from the Bible on the 1st Sunday, Ephesians on the 2nd Sunday, Job on the 3rd Sunday and the 9 characteristics of a successful participant in God’s work on the 4th Sunday. This morning, we’ll be looking at the characteristic of compassion to serve. Instead of teaching on the passage in Matthew, which you read and understand for yourself, I want to tell you about Matthew, the author of this passage.
Some of you know that his book was combined with 26 other books to make up the New Testament. Matthew’s book is placed first, probably because his was the first recorded account of four about the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In case you didn’t know, Matthew was not his given name. His Dad, Alphaeus, named him Levi at birth. The Lord Jesus re-named him Matthew, which means “gift of God.”
Jesus had a way of seeing his disciples not as we were, but as God intended them to be. And he gives them new names. Simon, the unstable, became Simon “Rock Steady.” John, the messenger of anger, became John, the messenger of love.” When people follow Jesus wholeheartedly, they eventually become what God intend.
Matthew was a Jew who collected taxes for the Roman Empire. Being a tax collector was an envious but also a hated vocation. You see, he was perceived by his people to be a traitor, working for the Roman Empire to extort money from his own people, the Jews. Yet, the material comfort and success was all that mattered to him … until he met Jesus.
For a number of days, Matthew worked the town of Capernaum. While there, he heard news of Jesus teaching, encouraging and healing people throughout the surrounding towns and villages. In fact, moments before Jesus came to Matthew, Jesus healed a paraplegic. Not only that, Jesus forgave that man of all his sins.
Matthew was nearby. He could hear the shout of amazement from the friends who carried the paraplegic to Jesus. From the corner of his eyes, Matthew saw the man who was once bedridden jump for joy. The joy came from more than the bodily healing but from a restore peace with God.
For the first time, Matthew’s mind wandered as he counted the money of a taxpayer. A voice inside him spoke softly, “You thought you could be happy and fulfilled when you had enough money and material success. How wrong you are.”
Just then, Jesus showed up in front of Matthew. With a voice like the one Matthew had heard speaking softly inside, Jesus called out to Matthew, “Follow me.” That command from Jesus seemed to give Matthew the missing purpose from his life. So Matthew stopped what he was doing and followed Jesus.
For the next couple of hours, Jesus continued to teach in the Jewish meeting places, telling the people about the good news that God loves them, and healing diseased bodies and broken lives. As Matthew watched Jesus encourage and heal people, areas of Matthew’s life that were long forgotten began to open up.
It was scary at first to feel emptiness and sadness, as if he had wasted his whole life. He had been the master of his own fate and the captain of his own soul. Now allowing Jesus to be the master of his life seemed so right.
Jesus showed him things that money couldn’t buy: Confidence with God’s guidance, freedom through God’s forgiveness, contentment in God’s provision and peace through friendship with God.
Matthew wanted to spend more time with Jesus, so he invited Jesus and his disciples to dinner. Matthew also invited his tax collect friends and others whom the Jewish religious leaders resented. Matthew recalled that dinner party was the best he ever had. His stomach was filled, and the emptiness inside him was also filled by his new friendship with Jesus.
Matthew decided to leave his vocation as a tax collector and to follow Jesus. He saw how Jesus’ compassion was different from others. Jesus’ compassion was deep and total. Jesus understood where the people were really hurting, more than the people themselves. He healed their mind, body and spirit.
The religious people talked about saving souls, but their intolerance of sinful lifestyles kept them behind church walls. Jesus saw the stories behind the sins. He understood their confusion and aimless lives. He gave them direction and hope. Those who believed regained their worth and lived as children of God.