As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, 'Follow Me.' So he arose and followed Him.
Since names are important in the Bible, and Matthew used to be called Levi, why did Jesus give him a big, new name? Levi, the tax collector, was 'attached' to foreign rulers and Jewish brethren. To Rome, he was a source of revenue. To Israel, he was a traitorous skunk. Matthew, the disciple, was 'YAHWEH's gift' to Jesus and those who would follow Him.**
Consider the importance of Matthew:
1) Although the Jews despised tax collectors (because they often took bribes for favors or overcharged people for kickbacks), was Matthew an honest man among thieves?
2) Whether he was already ethical or became deeply convicted of sin, Matthew left comfort and security without hesitation when Jesus called.
3) In addition to his desiring heart, Matthew was gifted and seasoned with extraordinary attention to detail. With both, he would write the longest Gospel.
4) When he joined Jesus as a disciple, his dubious reputation came, too. Jesus ignored how others saw Matthew. Instead, He focused on his potential.
5) Before the home team left Capernaum accompanied by their newest recruit, Matthew threw Jesus a lavish banquet, along with other guests of ill-repute.
Actors, models and talent for Christ: What can this tax collector teach you? Maybe words of eternal wisdom, if you read the Gospel of Matthew. Maybe people we see as sinners are seen quite differently by God. Maybe Matthew's friends (viewed as scoundrels) were closer to God than faith phonies. Maybe men who work in jobs we don't like are truly nice guys--just waiting for the right chance to show it.
To Be Continued...
* Short article: Who was Matthew in the Bible? http://www.gotquestions.org/Matthew-in-the-Bible.html
* Short article: Matthew: Tax Collector and Apostle: http://christianity.about.com/od/newtestamentpeople/a/JZ-Matthew.htm
** Meaning of the name, Levi: http://www.behindthename.com/name/levi; Meaning of the name, Matthew: http://www.behindthename.com/name/matthew
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the The Enemy's Game series.