Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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The Calling of Matthew


Luke 5:29  Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them.

The Tax Collector
I identify with Matthew (also called Levi) because he was a tax collector.  As a former CPA, I know what it is like to collect taxes for a government that people resent and then to charge them to tell them what they owe.  People didn’t think it was fair when I spent hours in consultation with them, in research on the tough issues, in time spent putting little numbers in the proper little boxes, and then getting charged $100.00 or less for the final product.  I understood their pain.  They didn’t understand the amount of effort our convoluted tax laws require to make sure things are done appropriately.

Publicans were hated in the Lord’s days because they were Jews working for the Romans.  That was a “no, no!”  They usually collected a quota for the Romans and then often collected a little more (or maybe a lot more) for themselves.  It was no wonder that we see the term publican with the word sinner so often in the Gospels.  Prostitutes were sinners of the moral variety, publicans were sinners of the business variety. 

But the Lord saw something in Matthew and Matthew saw something in the Lord.  When the Lord called Matthew to follow, Matthew “left all” and followed Him.  His occupation changed immediately.  His call was with a cost.  When people follow the Lord today, I wonder if they have ever paid any price at all for following the Lord.  We live in a self-centered society and following the Lord is fine so long as it doesn’t cost us any friends or memberships at our clubs or time spent at our other places of entertainment.  We certainly don’t want our business revenues affected.  We want our needs met by our “religion”.  Matthew wanted his friends needs met and he seems to have wanted to meet the needs of the Lord because he made a feast.  The Lord was the guest of honor and Matthew’s friends were invited.  Apparently, there were “religious” people there because they were critical of the company that was invited.  Matthew had invited “publicans” (his friends) and sinners.  Surely, the Lord wouldn’t want to spend time with them when he could spend time with the “upper class” who could advertise and finance his ministry.  But unfortunately, the Lord didn’t come to save the saved, he came to save the lost.  He didn’t come to heal the well, he healed the sick.  He didn’t come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance (the change of mind that leads to saving faith in the Lord). 

The Change in His Occupation
Mathew was doing what most people who are newly saved or born again do.  First he left all.  He saw the futility of living for time when he could now follow the Lord who preached about eternal things.  Then he got concerned about those who were his friends and acquaintances.  Probably relatives were involved in this feast as well though I can’t prove that.  He didn’t preach to these people himself, but he provided a feast so that they could meet the man who had reached him.  He is like a person who comes to a gospel meeting and finds the Lord and then invites others to come and hear the message.  He is like a person who has a friend who has read the Bible with him and has introduced him to the Lord who then invites his friends to that Bible study. 

He is like a Nicodemus who came to the Lord at night and heard him.  It changed his life and in John 7 he asks those in his circle of influence, "Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing (John 7:51) ?"

He is like the Samaritan woman who met the Lord at a well at high noon one day and found out that He was truly the Messiah.  We read, “The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men,  ‘Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ (John 4:28-29)?’"  The old standard King James Version said that she said, “Is not this the Christ?”  She was not in doubt and she wanted others to know that she was not in doubt.

Personal Application
When people truly meet the Lord and trust Him it changes them.  They don’t become “religious” but they do become concerned.  They are concerned about their friends and neighbors and they are concerned about how they can best show their love to the Lord who died for them.  They don’t become sinless but they do have a conscience about sin.  But I like the fact that the newly saved are usually the best and most fervent evangelists.  I sometime wish I had the same courage and zeal that I had when I was first saved.  I love the words of the hymn that says,

If I could tell Him as I know Him, my redeemer who has brightened all my say.
If I could tell how precious is His presence, I am sure that you would make Him yours today.
But I can never tell Him as I know Him, Human tongue can never tell all love divine,
I only can entreat you to accept Him.  You can know Him only when you make Him thine.

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of October 18, 2015

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