“And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. (Matthew 9:9)”
For all of those who have come to Jesus as Lord and Savior, there is probably at least one thing that Jesus has done in them or one thing that greatly stands out about God’s restoration they have experienced in Christ.
Jesus has just shown how easily he can forgive sin. Then the next thing that happens is, he sees a man named Matthew. I don’t think it is by accident that, Matthew makes this opening statement about Jesus and himself.
Every other Gospel writer declares Jesus saw a publican. You know one of “them” who collects taxes for the Roman government, a traitor to the Jewish people who builds their own wealth by charging a large fee from the people for collecting the tax.
I have never had a lot of friends in my life, sure there have been people who I’ve hung out with; but not necessarily many who I would actually call friends.
I was so timid or shy as a youngster, that it made it hard for me to reach out to others for friendship. Not to mention girls; there were several that I had a crush on, but I could never get myself to build a friendship with them.
I could talk to them; of course their conversations were, “Does David or so and so like me?” But I could never tell them that I liked them. My shyness prevented me from exploring a lot of things and people, a certain amount of loneliness developed in my life.
Here is a man who made a choice in his occupation, that pretty much made him an outcast in the community and all of Israel. He probably had little or very few friendships, except with other publicans and those were probably pretty superficial at best.
Jesus saw “a man“, but most likely no one else saw a man; rather they saw anything but a man. I think this says a lot about Matthew and what Jesus coming into his life meant to him.
A man named Matthew, his name means, “a gift from God”. I doubt anyone, except his own parents may have seen a gift from God; his occupation may have even caused them to question their decision to name him Matthew.
Names in Hebrew are meant to be prophetic, yet there was very little being demonstrated to show that he was living up to that name: A gift from God.
Jesus changed Matthew’s life from that day forward. Jesus was looking past the sinner and his condition; he was seeing the original purpose and worth of this person. Jesus saw “a man named Matthew”, (a gift from God.)
I believe a lot of people can identity with Matthew’s statement; he doesn’t point out that he is just a sinner who needs saving, though he does need saving! I believe Jesus meet Matthew on a more personal level, where he hurt; Matthew needed to be seen as something more than what others were seeing or experiencing.
Matthew found what true friendship was all about, that day Jesus said, “Follow me!” The hurt, the loneliness, the bitterness the very things that was actually squashing the life out of him all started to change that day Jesus saw “a man”!