December 20, 2018 – The Name of Jesus’ biographer: Matthew
Father, you have every reason to be ashamed of us. But yet you have mercy on us and want us to be your disciples. Increase our faith in you and all you have done for us! Amen.
These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Many people believe that Matthew is the author of the Gospel we call Matthew. Do you see what name he gives himself here? He calls himself “Matthew the tax-collector.”
That’s like calling yourself, “Matthew, the thief.” There isn’t time to get into all the details, but tax-collectors in those days were viewed as some of the worst kind of people. In fact, when Jesus had dinner at Matthew’s house they were offended and upset because someone as holy as Jesus would hang out with someone as sinful as Matthew. They just couldn’t understand why Jesus would do something like (cf. Mark 2:13-17).
But then Jesus made this shocking statement to them: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners”(Mark 2:17). Jesus knew and made it very clear that he had come for sinful people like Matthew, like you and like me. And he wanted them to know it.
That’s only part of the shocking thing that Jesus said. It’s shocking that Jesus would hang out with sinners like Matthew. But it’s even more shocking that Jesus would invite sinners like Matthew to learn from him and to join him on Mission Salvation: “As he walked along, he saw Levi (aka Matthew) son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him” (Mark 2:14).
And that’s how Jesus feels about you and about me. He is not ashamed of you. He is not ashamed to be known as your brother. He not ashamed to be known as your Savior. In fact, that’s why he came. He is not ashamed in the slightest bit to be seen with you, to have dinner with you, to hang out with you, to go with you wherever you are.
Even more than that, he wants you – sinner that you are – to join him on his mission. “Follow me,” he says. “Follow me with your whole life and let the world know that I’m yours and you’re mine. Let the whole world know and especially the people in your life know that I’ve come for them too. Follow me and join me in my mission to save the world.”
Jesus was not ashamed to be with Matthew or to use Matthew. In fact, through Matthew, the Holy Spirit has given us an inspired biography of the life of Jesus.
If he did use Matthew in such amazing ways, he certainly will do the same through you.
Additional Reading: Matthew 4:12-25
1. What do you know about the other disciples who followed Jesus? Pick two or three of them and tell what they were like and what they did.
2. What surprises you about the fact that Jesus called them to follow him too?
3. Why is it surprising that Jesus called you to follow him?
1. Read Matthew 4:12-25. Jesus called his disciples and said that he would make them fishers for men. How did he train them and equip them for this?
2. Why did the brothers drop everything to follow Jesus? Could you do that? Have you done that? Explain.
Lord Jesus, you are the friend of sinners, and that’s us! We thank you that you are not ashamed to call us your brothers and sisters, because when you look at us we are draped in the righteousness you won for us. We thank and praise you! Amen.