I was reading this morning in Luke chapter 5: 27-32. This is about Matthew the Tax collector. I have read this story so many times and to tell you the truth, I almost skimmed over it. But, then I was reminded of my commitment to read to learn. So with a heavy sigh, I asked God to teach me and began reading. Wow! was I surprised! Here let me set the stage for you...
Jesus has just healed the paralytic man. The ones that his four friends had let down through the roof. He had also ticked off the Pharisees by forgiving the man his sins. Luke 5:27 says, "After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." v.28 So he left all, rose up, and followed Him."
Now, I know you have heard this story just like me. So in order to read to learn I stopped and pondered it in my mind. What did Matthew already know about Jesus? Did he know or see what had happened to the paralytic man? Because he was a tax collector, he was a despised man...as low-count as prostitutes to the Jews. That brought up more questions: How did he end up a tax collector? How is it that he took a job knowing that his own people would hate him for it? The Special Ed teacher part of me wants to find out about his self worth at the time he took the tax collectors job. I'll have to ask him in eternity. But one thing I do know, He had to be smart. Not only because it would require education to be a tax collector but also because we later see the Gospel he wrote. After pondering this I remembered that Matthew wrote this gospel with an emphasis to the Jews. The very people who had hated him as a tax collector. He wrote the gospel to try and convince them of the Deity of Christ.
We know that Matthew got right up and followed! No, who are you's? No , I have to work now. Can you come back at 5. He just left all! You know, this is confession time for me. I still wonder sometimes if I would get up and immediately leave all. I'm struggling now with the change in my job, yet I'm not ready to just leave all. Anyway, back to the scripture.
This next part is one of those, "I've never noticed that before" moments. Vs. 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. vs.30 And their scribes and the pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"
Before I get into Jesus answer, I want you again think about Matthew and what he did. He just left his job! He is now unemployed. What does he do? He throws a feast! Not just a little dinner party...a huge....big dog feast! God is changing my own job and what do I do? I am pinching every penny as tight as I can! What was different about Matthew? I think it was because he knew that his life was changed forever. I think he had so much faith and trust in Jesus that he knew how little the material things now were! Look tax collectors though hated were wealthy men. Yet Matthew knew that this was no longer important. What was important to him now was Jesus! We can see that in who he invited. He didn't go to the Jews, or the scribes and Pharisees. He invited the other tax collectors and sinners! He wanted them to know and see and experience Jesus! Oh, how I wish that had been my focus these last few weeks of worrying and whining about my job change.
Excuse me a minute.
"Lord, please give me the strength, the faith and the focus to stop complaining and see who I need to invite to experience You."
Jesus answered the Pharisees by saying He did not come for the righteous but sinners. (paraphrase)
I am amazed at Matthew. If I were to throw a feast today, Who would I invite to experience Jesus? I teach at a Christian school, my husband is a minister and all of my friends are believers. What about you? Who would you invite?