I’ve spent a lot of time studying the Gospel of Matthew but very little studying the man Matthew.
The man Matthew is fascinating. His story is a story of God’s grace and mercy. From Matthew we learn the power of God to change lives and to use us for His glory.
Matthew lived in Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee and had one of the most lucrative jobs in Israel. He served as a tax collector. In that day taxes were paid primarily on the movement of goods. Matthew and other tax collectors were empowered by Rome to collect taxes on commerce. When Jesus called Matthew he was at his tax booth on the outskirts of Carpernaum.
Matthew left his profession and his income to follow Jesus. Like anyone who follows Christ, powerful changes occurred in his life.
Many of his friends probably didn’t understand what had happened to Levi (Mark 2:14, his name prior to following Jesus). Matthew means the “gift of God” and apparently was given to him to commemorate his decision to be a disciple.
Matthew invited his friends to his home for a dinner party. He also invited Jesus and His disciples. This may have been done to answer their questions and to allow them to meet Jesus.
We know little of Matthew after his decision to follow Jesus, but we see the powerful results of his life lived for God. Matthew became the author of the first of the four gospels of the New Testament.
Isn’t it ironic? This man who used his pen to record transactions for tax purposes later used his pen to give us the good news of Jesus. It’s as if God called him and told him to bring his pen with him. God always uses our backgrounds and experiences in His kingdom.
The best information about Matthew indicates he made missionary journeys to the Jews who were dispersed among the Gentiles. He is associated with Syria, Ethiopia, and Persia.
We also know this: God used him to take the wonderful story of Christ to all the world.
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