Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 9:9-17 we come to a very fine, sweet, and intimate portion of the Gospel of Matthew. After the King decreed the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens and after He manifested His authority as the King in many situations, in 9:9-13 we see Him feasting with sinners.
In 9:9 we have the calling of Matthew. This verse says, “And as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the customs office, and says to him, Follow Me. And he rose and followed Him.” Matthew was also called Levi (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27). He was a tax collector who became an apostle by God’s grace (Matt. 10:2-3; Acts 1:13, 26). He was the writer of this Gospel.
The calling of Matthew is somewhat different from the calling of Peter, Andrew, James, and John. When Peter and Andrew were called, they were casting a net into the sea; and when James and John were called, they were mending their nets. The Lord called them, they left their work, and they followed the Lord Jesus. As the Lord Jesus was passing by the customs office, where the tax collectors were, He saw Matthew and called him, and Matthew followed Him. According to the record in 9:9 it seems that this was the first time the Lord met Matthew. There must have been some attracting power with the Lord, either in His word or appearance, that caused Matthew to follow Him.
To follow the Lord includes believing in Him. No one follows Him unless he believes in Him. To believe in the Lord is to be saved (Acts 16:31), and to follow Him is to enter the narrow gate and walk the constricted way to participate in the kingdom of the heavens (Matt. 7:13-14).
Verse 10 says, “And it came to pass as He was reclining at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and reclined at the table together with Jesus and His disciples.” The house spoken of in this verse was Matthew’s house (Luke 5:29; Mark 2:15). As the writer of this Gospel, Matthew purposely did not say that it was his house and that it was he who had made a great feast for the Lord. This was his humility. But Luke 5:29 says clearly that Levi, that is, Matthew, “made a great reception for Him in his house.” Thus, Matthew opened his house and prepared a great feast for the Lord and His disciples.
Verse 10 says that “many tax collectors and sinners came and reclined at the table together with Jesus and His disciples.” This reveals the kind of person Matthew was. He was a sinful, despised tax collector who had many sinners as his friends. If he had not been such a low person, why were only tax collectors and sinners and not those of a higher rank feasting in Matthew’s house with the Lord Jesus? Although Matthew was such a low person, he was made not only a disciple, but one of the twelve apostles.
A tax collector was a despised person. Nearly all tax collectors abused their office by demanding more than they should by false accusation (Luke 3:12-13; 19:2, 8). To pay taxes to the Romans was very bitter to the Jews. Those engaged in collecting them were despised by the people and counted unworthy of any respect (Luke 18:9-10). Hence, they were classed with sinners (Matt. 9:10-11). How we must worship the Lord that even a person of such a low rank as Matthew, under God’s mercy and by His grace, could become an apostle! After being saved, Matthew was so grateful to the Lord that he opened his house and prepared a feast for Him and His disciples. Thus, this section of the Word opens in such a sweet, intimate way.
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