#6 (The 12 Disciples Series)
"MATTHEW – THE QUICK CHANGE!"
TEXT: Luke 5:27-32; 3:12-13; (Matt. 9:9-12)
INTRO: What would you do if you were very wealthy and very comfortable in life? More than likely spiritual things would not be high on your list. Normally this type of person would be hard to lead to Jesus Christ; their comfort level would keep them away from seeing their need of God, hence Jesus’ warning about the difficulty of the rich entering the kingdom of God.
ILLUS: ONE OF THE UNUSUAL WAYS THAT WAS USED TO CATCH RACCOONS ILLUSTRATES THIS POINT: RAccOONS LIKE SHINY THINGS, SO TO CATCH ONE PEOPLE USED TO TAKE A SMALL SCREENED BOX ATTACHED TO THE GROUND AND PUT IN IT A WADDED BALL OF TIN FOIL, NICE AND SHINY! A RAccOON WOULD COME BY AND DECIDE IT WANTS THAT SHINY BALL AND SO WOULD REACH IN AND GRAB IT – AND IT WON'T LET IT GO! ONCE THEY GRAB IT HOWEVER, THEIR PAW CHANGES SHAPE SO THAT THEY CANNOT WITHDRAW IT OUT OF THE CAGE, MANY TIMES A RACCOON WILL GIVE UP ITS FREEDOM RATHER THAN LET GO OF THE SHINY TINFOIL, EVEN TO THE POINT OF SACRIFICING ITS LIFE RATHER THAN LETTING GO! AS LONG AS THEY CONTINUE TO GRASP THE FOIL THEY CANNOT GET AWAY! SUCH IS OFTEN THE CASE WITH COMFORTABLE PEOPLE WITH THIS WORLD'S SHINY STUFF! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
Matthew (also called “Levi”) stands out as one of those rare examples of a man who had almost everything this world had to offer; money, power, and yet, he instantly gave it all up for Jesus! He was a tax collector who was used to making quick change that made a quick change personally – and has given us one of the greatest books in the Bible, the Gospel of Matthew!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that there is nothing in this world that compares with knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior!
I. MATTHEW AND HIS MESS! Lk. 5:27a; 3:12-13
A. Rejected! Lk. 5:27a
1. Matthew was no doubt a very wealthy man, he was a tax collector for the Roman government while also being a Jew.
a. Jewish tax collectors were hated by just about everyone except other Jewish tax collectors!
b. They were hated by Romans because they were Jewish, and hated by Jews because they took money from other Jews for an ungodly Roman government!
c. Matthew's name before his salvation was Levi, thus he was from the tribe of the Levites. This made him even more hated by the Jews who saw his being a tax collector for the Romans while belonging to the priestly line an even greater than normal betrayal!
d. Jewish tax collectors were so hated by their own people that they were called "leeches" and "robbers." (In the Jewish Talmud they are called "ROBBERS" and the term is equated with "SINNER"!)
2. The very term "publican" or “tax collector” was equated with "sinner" – they were so hated by all Jews!
a. They were considered the "spiritual lepers" of society, impure and unclean, without hope of recovery!
b. They were also ignored and treated as "outcasts" like lepers, no one cared for or about them; they were often rich at the expense of others and so very lonely!
c. Tax collectors were allowed by Roman law to charge any price they wanted for taxes as long as they didn't cause an uprising, thus they often taxed way beyond what the taxes were suppose to be for Rome and they kept the difference for personal wealth – the real tax base was unknown by most regular citizens so they just paid what was demanded – no one knew the difference!
3. Tax collectors were so hated in Jewish society that they were never permitted to serve as witnesses in court or serve as a judge, they were even expelled from local synagogues, even their families were held in disgrace and in contempt by the Jewish community!
a. They were considered beyond all hope and not redeemable!
b. Thus their only friends were other outcasts like themselves, the scum of society – the rich and powerful who were only concerned about their own lives!
4. Up to this point Jesus had called simple men to be His disciples, men like fishermen, uneducated and of simple means. Matthew was so unlike these other guys however, he was educated and very wealthy – and also considered scum!
a. Jesus had lived in Capernaum now for some time thus He likely had come to know Levi or Matthew by paying taxes for Himself and His mother and brothers and sisters. (Family mentioned in MARK 6:3)
b. Jews of Jesus' day made no attempt whatsoever at trying to win over tax collectors, they were considered too wicked to win since they were considered hopeless people – “robbers” ... “leeches” ... “sinners” ... “traitors” ... etc. Jesus however saw Matthew as a potential candidate to become a follower, no one was hopeless for Jesus.
5. Matthew unlike the others could read and write in Aramaic and Greek because of his education and wealth, it is he who has given us a treasure trove of information in his Gospel account:
a. It is Matthew who records many of the “money” stories:
(1. Like the laborers who all worked different hours, but who all got paid the same in the end!
(2. The debtor who owed much money but was forgiven much, yet he did not forgive the brother who owed him little.
(3. The story of paying taxes to Caesar or giving to God.
(4. He alone tells us about the guards being paid to lie about Jesus’ body being stolen.
(5. Matthew alone tells us about Judas throwing the 30 pieces of silver back into the temple before his suicide.
b. It must have been something to witness the other disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ calling of Matthew to be a disciple! Matthew was so different from the others, yet his love for detail certainly has proved a blessing for all of us in His recorded Gospel!
B. Robber! Lk. 3:12-13
1. How well will a "robber" do following John the Baptist? “Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?" "Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them.”
2. By this text it is quite clear what the average tax collector was doing to their fellow Jews, they were ripping off their own brothers for personal gain by overcharging them on taxes!
a. Yet, they were also coming to John to be baptized!
b. There were some that wanted to change, there was hope for some – they weren’t all hopeless!
c. John tells them that they must stop overcharging on taxes, to only tax what was required. Ironically, they would still be hated doing even this! John did not tell them it was wrong to collect taxes, just wrong to overtax.
3. Why would John or Jesus even be interested in such people like tax collectors?
a. Why would God ever be interested in YOU or ME!?
b. Matthew couldn't even go to synagogue or temple, he wasn't accepted anywhere except by fellow robbers – or John or Jesus!
ILLUS: MAHANDAS K. GANDHI WAS THE LEADER OF THE NATIONALIST MOVEMENT AGAINST BRITISH RULE AND CONSIDERED THE FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY INDIA. IN GANDHI'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY HE WROTE THAT IN HIS STUDENT DAYS HE WAS TRULY INTERESTED IN THE BIBLE. HE BECAME DEEPLY TOUCHED BY THE GOSPELS AND SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED BECOMING A CHRISTIAN, ESPECIALLY SINCE CHRISTIANITY SEEMED TO OFFER THE REAL SOLUTION TO THE CASTE SYSTEM THAT WAS DIVIDING THE PEOPLE OF INDIA – IN CHRISTIANITY ALL WERE TO BE EQUAL AND LOVED. ONE SUNDAY, HE WENT TO A NEARBY CHURCH TO ATTEND SERVICES. HE DECIDED TO SEE THE MINISTER AND ASK FOR INSTRUCTIONS IN THE WAY OF SALVATION AND ENLIGHTENMENT ON OTHER DOCTRINES, BUT WHEN HE ENTERED THE SANCTUARY THE USHERS REFUSED TO GIVE HIM A SEAT AND SUGGESTED THAT HE GO AND WORSHIP WITH HIS OWN PEOPLE! GANDHI LEFT AND NEVER CAME BACK. "IF CHRISTIANS HAVE CASTE DIFFERENCES ALSO,” HE SAID TO HIMSELF, "I MIGHT AS WELL REMAIN A HINDU!" – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. Up to this point in Matthew's life he had always lived by the tax collector’s "GOLDEN RULE," that is: "HE THAT HAS THE GOLD – RULES!"
a. Matthew had spent his life knowing how to get rich at other people's expense.
b. He had to have developed a certain callous spirit towards others in order to charge more than what was suppose to be charged, especially taking advantage of widows and the poorer families of the area!
ILLUS: LIKE ONE LITTLE BOY WHO GOT RICH EVERY CHRISTMAS AT A SHOPPING MALL. HE WOULD STAND IN THE AISLE AND CRY WHILE HIS MOM WAS SHOPPING A LITTLE WAYS OFF, CONSTANTLY CRYING, "I WANT MY MOMMY!" PEOPLE PASSING BY WOULD FEEL SORRY FOR HIM AND THUS THEY WOULD GIVE HIM MONEY TO TRY AND CHEER HIM UP, FINANLLY ONE DAY A FLOORWALKER CAME OVER TO HIM AND SAID, "I KNOW WHERE YOUR MOMMY IS SON!" THE LITTLE BOY LOOKED UP THROUGH HIS TEARS AND SAID, "SO DO I – JUST KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT MISTER!" – SOURCE UNKNOWN
5. Matthew had spent his life taking from others and caring nothing about them! As long as he got what he wanted that's all that counted! This was some candidate for being called an APOSTLE!
II. MATTHEW AND HIS MESSIAH! Lk. 5:27b-32 (Matt. 9:9-12)
A. Repentant! Lk. 5:27b-28
1. One day Jesus approached Matthew's tax booth and made a simple request: "follow me!" 5:27b
a. What a surprise and shock this must have been to Matthew!!!!
b. He wasn't permitted in the synagogue and he couldn't be a witness in court even if he was the sole witness to a crime, yet here was Jesus asking him to be a follower and to come and be a witness for Him!
c. He certainly had to know something about Jesus as a great teacher and prophet, how could Jesus even be interested in HIM!?
2. Jesus offered no lectures about money, power, or status, just a simple request: "follow me!"
a. Nobody had ever asked him before for something without an ulterior motive!
b. What about all the wealth he had, was Jesus just interested in his money? This would have been anyone else’s interest in him – but he knew something about Jesus and knew this was not Jesus’ interest.
3. Matthew simply GETS UP AND LEAVES EVERYTHING! – Instantly he follows Jesus!
a. How different this was from the other disciples who were fishermen! If things didn't work out as disciples for the fishermen they could always go back to fishing – and on a few occasions they actually did, but a tax collector walking away could never go back, it was a permanent decision!
b. To walk away from all the money and the power, to know that there was no returning if you walked away, this took real REPENTANCE!
4. Matthew had a chance to find real meaning in life and he was going to grab it before it got away! No one would know him today had he continued in his old profession, but everyone knows him today as one of the twelve apostles because he changed!
ILLUS: TWO BROTHERS WERE DISCUSSING THEIR LIFE GOALS ONE DAY AFTER SUNDAY SCHOOL. THE FIRST BROIHER'S GOAL WAS TO BECOME RICH AND FAMOUS. THE SECOND BROTHER'S GOAL WAS TO FOLLOW CHRIST TO THE FULLEST. THE SECOND BROTHER WENT ON TO REACH HIS GOAL, HIS NAME WAS DAVID LIVINGSTONE, THE RENOWNED MEDICAL MISSIONARY AND EXPLORER OF AFRICA WHO BROUGHT SALVATION TO SCORES OF AFRICANS! THE FIRST BROTHER WHO WANTED TO BE RICH AND FAMOUS ACHIEVED PART OF HIS GOAL, HE BECAME RICH BUT HIS FAME CAME FROM HIS SECOND BROTHER – FOR THE EPITAPH ON HIS TOMBSTONE READS: “HERE LIES THE BROTHER OF DAVID LIVINGSTONE.” – SOURCE UNKNOWN
a. Matthew came to realize the treasure he was being offered by Jesus was a treasure far greater than all the wealth of this world!
b. Like the parable of the man who had found the one great pearl, he sold all that he had to buy the one great pearl of his dreams! Matt. 13:45-46
c. Receiving Jesus as his Lord was considered a huge gain and not a loss for him! Do we view receiving Christ this way?
B. Recruiter! Lk. 5:29-32
1. The depth of his repentance is revealed by how he deals with his decision to follow Jesus, he neither became a secret follower nor kept his decision low key!
a. He instead immediately went public with his commitment to Christ! He throws a dinner and invites all his crooked friends – he has something important to share with them, Jesus!
b. He wanted his buddies to know the truth about the decision he had just made for Christ, being a new believer didn't exempt him from evangelizing right away!
c. We can evangelize IMMEDIATELY when we get saved, it does not require special education, all that is required is that we share honestly and openly the confession of faith that we have made for Christ, and to turn our backs on our former way of life.
ILLUS: ONE NEW CHRISTIAN WAS TYRING TO EXCUSE HIMSELF FROM WITNESSING BY SAYING HE DIDN'T KNOW ENOUGH YET ABOUT BEING A CHRISTIAN TO TELL OTHERS. HE NEEDED TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BIBLE FIRST. TO THIS THE PASTOR ASKED HIM, "SON, WHEN DOES A LIT CANDLE START TO SHINE?" THE YOUNG MAN RESPONDED, "WELL OF COURSE AS SOON AS IT IS LIT!" THE WISE PASTOR THEN QUICKLY ADDED, "EXACTLY! – AND SO IT IS WITH ANYONE WHO GETS SAVED, AS SOON AS THEY ARE SAVED THEY BEGIN TO SHINE!" – SOURCE UNKNOWN
2. Matthew's decision was permanent and not some passing fad, he wanted his old buddies in sin to know the depth of the change in his life and to meet Jesus!
a. This was his only concern, not what would people really think!
b. Matthew uses his old wealth to bring others to Jesus!
c. Since it was unlikely that the religious leaders would attempt to reach these people Matthew felt he must!
3. If Matthew didn't reach out to them no one else would have, this is evident by the religious leaders’ question: "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners?’" Lk. 5:30
a. The function of eating and drinking with someone expressed ACCEPTANCE and FRIENDSHIP!
b. The religious leaders would never have fellowshipped with these kinds of people, but these are precisely the kind of people Jesus came to save!
c. It is hard to see people get saved that are self-satisfied and feel no need of anything!
4. It is almost laughable but really tragic that they asked Jesus how He could reach out to “SINNERS!” What in the world were these religious leaders suppose to be doing if not reaching out to sinners? What was the purpose of their faith in God???
a. They really weren't any different from Matthew before he was saved! Matthew as a tax collector only concerned himself with his own needs and those just like him – ironically these religious leaders were doing the same thing!
b. The religious leaders only concerned themselves with their own needs and those who were just like them; they weren't interested in the lost or sinners!
5. For Matthew the only interest now was reaching out to others like himself who had lost their way, to help steer others to Jesus who alone is the answer to the heart problem of sinful man!
6. For Matthew, he was used to making change – cash that is; now however he makes a "quick change" of character!
7. How many people will be lost simply because we never ask them to follow Jesus because we think they never will or because we think they are the wrong type!
ILLUS: YEARS AGO HENRY FORD PURCHASED A LARGE INSURANCE POLICY. THE NEWSPAPERS REPORTED IT IMIMEDIATELY INCLUDING THE HUGE POLICY’S CASH VALUE AND PRICE TAG. THE STORY WAS READ BY A VERY GOOD FRIEND OF HENRY FORD WHO WAS IN THE INSURANCE BUSINESS. THE OLD FRIEND WENT TO CONFRONT FORD TO SEE IF THE STORY WAS TRUE! WHEN FORD ASSURED HIM THAT IT WAS THE FRIEND THEN ASKED HIM WHY THE POLICY WAS NOT PURCHASED FROM HIM SINCE HE WAS A PERSONAL FRIEND AND HAD BEEN IN THE INSURANCE BUSINESS FOR MANY YEARS. FORD'S REPLY WAS, "YOU NEVER ASKED ME!" HOW MANY OF OUR FRIENDS CAN SAY TO US, "YOU NEVER ASKED ME TO ACCEPT JESUS!" – SOURCE UNKNOWN
a. Matthew's change was total and public!
b. No price was too high to follow Jesus for Matthew!
c. This was the best “change” he had ever made!
CONCLUSION: Matthew desired serious change, but not cash, he wanted character! Jesus offered this wealthy, educated “reject” a chance to really be something – a disciple, to really cash in on something valuable! For Matthew it was a "quick change" ... he literally walked away from his past and became one of Jesus' most trustworthy followers! It is never too late for "quick change!" How about you?
p.s. His old name Levi was changed to "Matthew" – it means: "gift of God"