Daily Thought for: 1st October
Matthew 9. 9-13; 10. 1-5; Mark 2. 13-17; Luke 5. 27-32
One of our greatest joys is to witness the effective call of the gospel
into someones life. This was seen throughout the life of Jesus, as He
called men and women to be His disciples. Matthew was one such person and
a remarkable change came over him.
Matthew (or Levi) was a tax collector, and his call by Jesus is recorded three times in the gospels. Mark and Luke refer to the tax collector in their narratives as Levi, and when they list the twelve apostles they do not mention his occupation. Perhaps they were sensitive to the stigma that attached itself to the term tax collector and so in kindness they refused to draw attention to it.
Matthew lived in Capernaum, owning a large house capable of accommodating a feast for many people. His wealth derived from his working for the hated Romans as a tax collector. The Roman tax system divided each state into a number of districts and a collector was appointed who supplied the Romans with the agreed amount of tax. This meant employing others to help collect the taxes and enough had to be made both to satisfy the Romans and pay the wages. Opportunities for corruption were available, allowing tax collectors to become rich.
The Jews hated the Romans and the tax collectors that worked for Rome were regarded as traitors. This is seen in the New Testament when so often tax collectors were linked with sinners in the same phrase. Thus they were despised and disliked.
Matthew heard the Lords words, Follow me. His response was both instant and total, for immediately he obeyed the call of the Lord and left everything to follow Him. This was not a half-hearted response but whole-hearted commitment; it was a true and total turning from the old life of sin.
Matthew became one of the twelve, and when he lists the apostles he refers to himself as the tax collector. His home became the centre of a celebration feast with the Lord Jesus as the honoured guest, and later he had the privilege of proclaiming the gospel. He also had the great blessing of becoming one of the God-appointed writers of the New Testament. Jesus calls the most unlikely of people to serve Him.