And he said to him, "Follow me." And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
[Matthew 9:9, Mark 2:13-14, Luke 5:27-28 ESV]
The next person the Lord Jesus decided to call as His talmidim was a despised publican.
In order to be a tax collector, Matthew had to
- have been highly educated,
- fluent in Aramaic, Greek, and Latin,
- able to write well,
- give close attention to detail and
- have the ability to compute large sums.
He also had to be dishonest, without many morals and content to sin daily without repentance.
Tax collectors were local men who contracted with Rome to gather the local taxes. Since the locals never knew what the actual tax rate was, tax collectors could make any commission they could figure out how to levy out of their fellow citizens. Publicans tended to be very wealthy.
Matthew's collection booth was probably located on the major international road that went from Damascus through Capernaum to the Mediterranean coast and on to Egypt, so he could collect all the traders’ taxes, too.
Naturally, everybody hated tax collectors to death, didn’t consider them to be trustworthy as witnesses in a court of law, barred them from being judges, expelled them from the synagogue and even held their whole extended family in public disgrace.
--> Matthew had to have already heard of Jesus, and may have even heard his teaching, since we know the whole town of Capernaum had already been through Peter’s house, listening to Jesus and observing His miracles.
Matthew would have had time to evaluate his life, rich in material wealth, but miserable and empty spiritually. Today the time had come for a decision.
Jesus...said to him, "Follow me." [Matthew 9:9]Matthew recognized Jesus' greater authority over his life than his job or even Rome.
What is your response to Jesus’ call to follow Him?
* How ready are you, like Matthew was ready, to walk away from your old life, all the things you were living for before, and say yes to the One Who loves you and knows you better than anyone else?
* Are you ready to celebrate, to be passionate, and joyful about your new life?
Those who experience the greatest grace are the very ones who deserve the greatest punishment. Encountering Jesus was the most wonderful, most special event that had ever happened in Matthew's life. The first thing Matthew wanted was to have all his reprobate friends come over to meet this remarkable Jesus.
Since they were all barred from the synagogue, they would have to meet the Lord in Matthew’s house. Who of your family and friends needs to come to your house, or come to your church, or come to your Bible study and meet this incredible Jesus?
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