Divine Encounter Part 4

Matthew’s Story

This study will show us how Matthew met Christ and what an impact He made on him.

Matthew 9:9 – Then as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he arose and followed Him. (Verse 10) And so it was, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.

(Verse 11) And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Verse 12) But when Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. (Verse 13) ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Too man people think that if God is watching us, and He is, He’s keeping a list of the bad things we do. They have the wrong concept of why God watches us. The Scripture says, “Jesus saw Matthew sitting in the tax office.” Did Jesus come up to him and start criticizing or condemning him for his occupation? No. He simply said, “Follow Me.” 

Why do so many think that God is just waiting to punish them for doing wrong? First of all, Jesus is not keeping a list of our wrongdoings. The Law did that for us before Christ. Jesus came to erase that list and drop every charge the Law stuck on us if we just believe.

John 3:17 – “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Colossians 2:13 – And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, (Verse 14) having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

So Jesus saw Matthew because He was looking for him and then Matthew follows Jesus. Mathew, Mark, and Luke’s gospels tell us up to this point, there were four other disciples that had already been chosen: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John. These four men all shared one thing in common, they were fishermen.

In that day and time, fishermen were the lowest of the low in society. You could say that Jesus went after the socially inept. and then Jesus calls Matthew, a tax collector. Now Jesus wants the morally bankrupt. No one liked a tax collector because they cheated people and they were corrupt. Matthew wasn’t obligated to follow Jesus. He followed Him because he wanted to.

Why is it that so many people look at following Jesus as a religious obligation? Why don’t they see it as a relational opportunity of all time? Would that way of thinking make our relationship with God stronger or better? We get to follow Jesus! We don’t have to.

Matthew arose and followed Jesus. He dropped everything to follow Him! So why would a man drop everything in his life to follow Jesus? I believe when Jesus walked up to Matthew, Matthew saw more love and compassion radiating from Him than he had ever seen in his entire life and something pricked his heart. Then Matthew’s friends, other tax collectors, met Jesus. Matthew took Jesus and the other four disciples to his home.

When we read this, we should see a good strategy for reaching the lost. If we used what Matthew used it would be a game-changer to reach your lost friends.

Matthew refused to be a Pharisee.

The Pharisees were there, watching, and asked the disciples why their Teacher ate with sinners. The Pharisees thought as long as they didn’t touch or associate, with what was “unclean” they would remain clean. It was hard for them to believe that Jesus could sit down and eat with the despicable tax collectors – sinners.

Jesus knew exactly what they thought. However, Jesus didn’t look at these tax collectors the same way the Pharisees did. He saw them becoming entirely different after that one encounter with Him!

Being a Christian, have you ever felt guilty about being around too many lost people? Sinners sin, lost people sin. If we don’t surround ourselves sometimes with the lost, how will they ever find out about Jesus? The only ones that the Apostle Paul told us to “not even take a meal with,” were the people who called themselves Christians and still were involved in the list he named beforehand in Scripture. Paul wasn’t talking about avoiding sinners. Jesus was surrounded by sinners His entire ministry! What is the whole purpose to witness to the lost? Is it not to tell them of Jesus love and forgiveness?

However, let me be clear, If you are a new Christian, be careful, you might fall back into the same habits and behaviors that Christ delivered you from. Jesus wasn’t weak and in no way was the lost going to influence Him. Believers still need to watch where they go and with whom. You never want to do anything to lose your testimony for Christ!

As long as there are people going to hell, get over what others think. Our obligation is to the lost. Matthew filled his house with sinners that needed Jesus. He brought them to the Master Physician!

Our testimony is not for those who already believe, it’s for those who don’t. Please don’t misunderstand me. We are to encourage our fellow believers, but if they are the only ones we ever deal with, we’re being secluded in our faith. Christianity is not a “private matter,” as some might think. What God has done in our lives is to be shared!

After Jesus called Matthew to follow Him, they went to Matthew’s house and threw a party with all Matthews lost friends. Who does that today? Think about it. Don’t most new believers stay tightly knit with other believers in today’s society? Some need to for a while, but as long as they have stronger Christians around them they will follow their lead.

However, Jesus was probably thrilled at what Matthew did. Matthew wanted all his friends to meet and know the Man that just changed his life! Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost.

This was not about having people make a “decision.” It was bout a Savior! Yes, we make the decision to follow Christ, but if we focus too much on the decision, it’s equivalent to saying, “The key to a good marriage is a good wedding!” If our only focus is for others to make a decision about Christ without telling them about the Savior, they won’t last very long in the Christian life.

We need to “meet’ Jesus before we try to introduce Him to someone else! Too many are just focused on the decision, not the relationship. Yes, Jesus wants a decision and that decision needs to be to hold Jesus’ hand for the rest of our lives, but they need to see who He is first.

God’s heart is for us to reach the people around us that don’t know Him. And I believe the best way to do that is to love the lost with our actions not just words!

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