Luke shares with us the calling of Matthew to the role of Jesus’ disciple. We looked at Matthew’s telling of his own story a while back. In that blog we looked at the calling as if we watched it happen personally. You can pop back over and check it out if you would like. The title was simply “Jesus Calls Matthew.” Not very original but it works.
I want to ask a few questions about the stories of Jesus calling His disciples. We don’t get to hear about how He came across all of them. We are told about Jesus calling Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Nathaniel and Matthew. That’s a little more than half of them. The remaining disciples He chooses are called out from the group of people following Him after a long night in conference with God. We know nothing about how they met Jesus or how long they were following Him before being officially called as one of his apostles.
We know when Jesus first met Andrew, Simon Peter, and Nathaniel. We are told specifically that this was their first meeting. Andrew was following John the Baptist and John pointed out Jesus to Andrew and another one of his own disciples. Andrew and the other followed Jesus. Andrew brings Peter to meet Jesus by telling him that he had found the Christ. The next day Jesus goes to Galilee and finds Philip. We are not told if Philip was the one originally with Andrew or not. We are also not told if Philip had met Jesus before, just that Jesus “found” Philip in Galilee. Philip then tells his brother Nathaniel about Jesus and brings him to meet Jesus. This is a first time meeting. So I’m curious if Jesus’ encounter with Matthew in his tax booth is their first time meeting.
Andrew especially seemed to be searching for the Christ. Peter, Philip and Nathaniel were apparently searching too but Andrew was actually engaged in discipleship with John the Baptist when He met Jesus. James and John were called right out of their fishing boats. They were Peter and Andrew’s fishing partners. James and John heard Jesus speak at least once before being called. It was when Jesus had Peter put out a little way with Him in the boat so He could address the people easier. But did Matthew hear Jesus speak before his calling?
Why was Matthew’s calling singled out in two of the four gospels? I can understand Matthew sharing it with us, but why did Luke? Was it because it was so different from all the others? Was it because Matthew was from such a sinful background? Was it because Matthew and Jesus were from two different social stratus? Was it because Matthew instantly responded to Jesus on their first meeting with no preamble or personal connection? Or was it because of the complete instantaneous change in Matthew when Jesus called him?
Matthew went in an instant from loving money to loving Jesus. As soon as Jesus spoke the word, Matthew dropped EVERYTHING he had known and walked away. The money was left behind. His orderly responsible world changed in an instant. Why? Because Jesus touched his heart. I don’t know if we were given every word that transpired in their initial meeting, but whatever Jesus said touched his heart and mind so significantly that he stepped from one life into the next without hesitation.
Matthew concluded the day of his calling by having a feast for Jesus. Was this feast a farewell to all his old friends or was it a way for them to meet Jesus too? Matthew got all his associates together under one roof where Jesus could speak to them. Talk about a working dinner.
The Pharisees recognized all the people gathered at Matthew’s house and probably knew about Matthew as well. They knew this group as corrupt and sinful, yet here was Jesus right in the middle of them. Didn’t He recognize the kind of people He was associating with? They felt duty bound to point it out to Him. But His response proved He knew from the beginning what He was getting into.
Maybe that is why Matthew’s calling made the list of inclusions in Luke’s letter. The total contrast of Jesus and Matthew’s lives and Jesus’ willingness to step into Matthew’s circle anyway. The fact that Jesus broke all the rules in order to reach the most broken people. I’m glad Luke included Matthew’s calling. If Jesus can use someone as despised as Matthew for one of His closest followers, that gives the rest of us hope. Not that we are holding up sins for comparison, but that we see how He loves the unlovable all the time.
Lord Jesus, thank You for reaching out to each one of us, right in the middle of our sin. You don’t tell us we have to go get cleaned up first, but You reach right into the dirt and pull us up out of it. You pulled Matthew in an instant from despised tax collector to chosen disciple. Talk about a transformation. But You also didn’t expect him to be perfect from that moment on. You grew him into the apostle You called him to be. You taught him of You plan. You bestowed on him Your authority. You directed him to the people You wanted him to minister to. And You walked with him from that moment to his very last one on earth.
That is what You do with each of us too. When we respond to Your call, You change us spiritually and begin working out in our lives Your perfect plan. Thank You that You have a perfect plan for my life. You know how many times I’ve messed up the ones I made. I can trust You to bring my life in line with You design, even though it will probably take a lifetime to get it all correct. So long as it is You leading the way, I know we will get there, in Your time.
Confession time: While looking for a video of “In His Time” I wasn’t giving Him time. I wanted to find the right one and the ones that started out slow just frustrated me. I heard very clearly, “In MY time” from Him and had to stop and slow down. Thank You God for talking to me even here. Forgive me for my “instant” mentality. It is in YOUR time and not my own. Maybe I was just a little envious of Matthew’s instant transformation.