Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Follow Your Heart Instead Of The Money

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, July 7, 2017

One day, Jesus was walking and saw a tax collector named Matthew sitting at a tax collection post, and said to him, “Follow me.” And Matthew stood up and followed Him, and became one of His twelve apostles. Tax collectors in those days were social outcasts. Devout Jews avoided them because they were usually dishonest (the job had no salary, and tax collectors were expected to make their profits by cheating the people from whom they collected taxes). Patriotic and nationalistic Jews hated them because they were agents of the Roman government – the conquerors – and hated them with a double hatred if (like Matthew) they were Jews, because they had gone over to the enemy, and had betrayed their own people for money. Thus, throughout the Gospels, we find tax collectors (also known as publicans) mentioned as a stadard type of sinful and despised outcast. Matthew brought many of his former associates to meet Jesus, and social outcasts in general were shown that the love of Jesus extended even to them.

Matthew’s Gospel account puts it this way: “Later, Matthew invited Jesus and His disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with such scum as the tax-collectors and other sinners?” But when Jesus heard that, He said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ because I did not come to call those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”” (Matthew 9:10-13)

Jesus specifically replied with the principle recorded in Hosea 6:6a which states: “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices.” (NLT) The venerable King James version puts it as: “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

Jesus numbered among His disciples persons of widely different backgrounds. They included not only Matthew, a former agent of the Roman government, but Simon the Zealot (not to be confused with Simon Peter). The hostorian Josephus tells us that the Zealots were fanatical nationalists, determined to drive out the Romans by guerrilla tactics, ambushes, assassinations, terrorist methods, or whatever worked. Their motto was, “No king but Messiah, no tax but the Temple, no friend but the Zealot.” It is unclear that Simon was, or had been, a member of the group that Josephus describes, but it seems clear that Matthew would have regarded himself as at the opposite end of the political spectrum from Matthew.

The name “Matthew” means “gift of the Lord.” Mark and Luke, in the story of his calling, name him “Levi.” Perhaps that was his original name, and he received a new name from Jesus when he became a disciple. (It has also been suggested that he was simply a member of the tribe of Levi.)

Of Matthew’s life after Pentecost the Scriptures tell us nothing. Later accounts of his life are varied, and some report that he was martyred, while yet others assert that he died a natural death. The Christian community since early times has commemorated him as a martyr.

Tax-collector-turned-apostle Matthew may not have had the most popular job when Jesus called him, but the key is not what we do before we hear the call but what we do after. Matthew dropped his lucrative post and followed Jesus without looking back. Would you do the same? If you sense that you often lack the courage of your convictions, look to Matthew for inspiration. He gave up the big bucks for even greater treasure. Let the richness of faith guide you on the right road.

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