Summary: This explains reasons, expressions & outcome of thanksgiving.
Theme: THE WONDER OF MATTHEW’S THANKSGIVING
Text: Luke 5: 27-32
A. We understand that thanksgiving is our proper response towards the goodness of God. Thanksgiving is a celebration to express our praises to God for all that He has done to us.
B. Because God is good all the time, we must also express our thanks to Him often. Or I shall say, we have to cultivate in us the attitude of gratitude. Thanksgiving must become an attitude of our heart.
C. Did you ever make a thanksgiving list? I’m sure if we would write a thanksgiving list of all for which we are thankful, it would surely include the major things –life, material blessings, health, family and friends. And yes, we are expected to give thanks to God being the recipients of these wonderful blessings.
D. Now, I want to turn our minds to the passage that we read. It tells us about the “big feast” that Levi or Matthew held for Jesus. I believe it was a thanksgiving celebration. And Matthew invited his tax collector friends to witness how grateful he was to the Lord.
I. THE REASONS OF MATTHEW’S GRATITUDE.
-Matthew is very grateful of three things:
1.) The divine appointment of Jesus with him.
-Luke reported in v. 27 that Jesus “went out and saw Matthew…”
-This gives us an impression that the Lord had an intention to meet the tax collector, Matthew. This encounter had already been in the mind of Jesus; He had divinely appointed it.
-Matthew, being a tax collector, was considered enemy to his fellow Jews. The day he had accepted the job from the Roman government he lost his Jewish identity and the friendship of his countrymen. Everyone who would come to pay taxes had fiery eyes and grim faces, & hurled insults at him. They hated and condemned him and all other tax collectors.
-But one day, a very unexpected guest came. He was different from all others. His eyes were full of love and compassion, and from His presence flowed overwhelming kindness. It was the Lord. He came, not to pay tax, but to extend His touch to Matthew’s heart.
-The fact that Matthew is aware of his moral status before his fellow Jews, Jesus coming to him is very unlikely and so unexpected. He did not deserve even just to be in the presence of this great moral teacher. He was aware of that.
-But the Lord had appointed that day for Matthew to meet the Savior. He seemed to have no time to seek for God, but Christ sought him. He had no time to go to the Lord, but Jesus “went out to him.”
-This is the wonder of God’s love. There is a song that says:
“You did not wait for me to draw near to You
But You clothed Yourself with frail humanity
You did not wait for me to cry out to You
But You let me hear Your voice calling me
I’m forever grateful to You
I’m forever grateful to the cross
I’m forever grateful to You
That You came to seek and save the lost.”
-Matthew too was very grateful. Without that divine appointment with the Lord, he would have remained spiritually lost. “Jesus went out and saw him.”
-Praise God, we too must be grateful. Jesus came, sought and saved us. Thank God for that divine appointment He had with me & with you. Without that encounter with the Lord, we are lost in our sins.
2.) The divine invitation of Jesus to him.
-again Luke reported to us in v.27 that Jesus said to Matthew “Follow me”. It was just a simple two-word mandate but so rich in meaning. It was both a call to discipleship (we will treat this later) and an invitation to a personal relationship. So Jesus here was extending a divine invitation to Matthew for a personal relationship with Him.
-Except of his family, Matthew had no other personal relationships. Everybody in his hometown got angry with him. So we can imagine the impact of the invitation to him and how he reacted when he heard the Lord said: “Matthew, I want you to be my close friend.” I believe he’s pumped up, he’s chilling all over his body; great joy flooded his soul!
-I felt that too when I encountered the Lord in my life. I was so happy, and great joy flooded my soul when I realized that the God of the universe, the Great Creator wants a personal relationship with me. Not just to be a friend, but to be His child.
-This is the greatest reason of our joy and celebrations of thanksgiving. Thank God for that day when He invited you and me to a personal relationship with Him. Thank God for that day when He made me, and you, part of His divine family. The happiest moment of our life is the day when we heard and responded His invitation.