Matthew 9:9-13, “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (ESV).


The author of the first Gospel was a young man by the name of Matthew, and the Gospel bears his name. Matthew was also known as Levi, which was a name indicative in the times of one who was rich and had a godly heritage. However, Matthew had drifted from any such godly heritage. He was a tax collector, which means something completely different today than it did back then. Israel was occupied by Rome and they were required to pay taxes to Rome. In order to collect these taxes, Romans recruited Israelite traitors to work for them. These bottom of the barrel Israelites were pretty much told that they can collect whatever amount of money they wanted from the people as long as Rome got their pre-figured amount. The tax collectors could then keep whatever amount was left over for themselves. So, tax collectors were viewed as collaborators, traitors, and extortionists. They were completely despised, even hated, by the Israelites.

That is the background of who Matthew was. That is the Matthew that Jesus walked up to as he was sitting in his tax collector’s booth and without introduction authoritatively said, “Follow me.” And Matthew go up and left his business and did just that, followed Christ. Jesus still invites us to be his disciples. In fact, his final instructions to the church was to make disciples. The call to discipleship continues to this very day. So, what does this mean? It means that God wants several things. He wants us to:

1. Love Him – We love the Lord because he first loved us. How do we know he first loved us? We simply look to the cross. His Spirit is always drawing us to a relationship of increasing love.

2. Trust Him – We are to put our faith in Christ. “For it is by grace we have been saved through faith, and this not of ourselves, it is a gift of God so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Once we surrender our lives to Christ he will guard, protect, and guarantee our future. Relying on him takes away an incredible amount of stress and fear about what the future will bring.

3. Obey Him – We are given commands and instructions in God’s Word and we are expected to obey them. I’m not talking about gray areas, I’m not talking about matters of conscience, I’m talking about indisputable expectations from our Lord.

4. Abandoned Our Old Selves – Matthew got up and walked off leaving all that he had behind. Many people really struggle with this aspect. They love the idea of having their sins forgiven and of going to heaven, but they don’t find the idea of giving things up too appealing. They are not too excited about walking away from certain things.

5. Share Him – It seems that as soon as possible Matthew threw a bit of a celebration and invited his friends. Remember now, Matthew’s friends would have been from the outskirts of society, the scoundrels; the celebration was to introduce them to Jesus. Toward the end of Matthew 9 we read of where Jesus saw a large crowd starting to gather around, and he sensed they were lost, like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Jesus was pointing out to his disciples the vastness of human need and the fact that the Lord of the Harvest wants to send people out to help meet that need in his name. Matthew 10 expands on this and Matthew dedicates the rest of his life to sharing Christ. To the point of, as we have clearly seen, writing the first of the Gospels.


Jesus is Lord. We need to give full surrender of our lives to Christ, he must be in complete control. I remember when I was young my dad used to let me sit on his lap in the car and hold onto the steering wheel. Every once in a while he’d let go and give me control of the wheel for a moment. When he would do this I would inevitably yank the wheel and he’d have to grab a hold of it to stop us from swerving and to get us going straight again. Let me make an analogy here and say that the person who grabs the wheel that Christ is suppose to be holding will always find his or her life on a swerving path which is bound to end up in a wreck. However, when the Lord is sitting in the driver’s seat, when he has full control of the wheel, he takes ordinary people like you and me – and Matthew – and uses us to do extraordinary things. Amen.

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