It has been intriguing to study the man called Matthew and to dig beneath the surface. He probably never thought anyone might be so interested but here I am on the quest. Just who was he and why did the Holy Spirit inspire him to write such a lengthy book filled with so many details?
This is what I found out so far: Matthew was not just a tax collector for Rome but he was a tax collector extraordinaire and gained great wealth from this less than desirable occupation it seems. In fact he was so wealthy that Luke tells us he threw a great banquet after deciding to follow Jesus.
But digging further. He knew the who’s who because he was not only innately endowed with observation skills to know who is real and who is a fraud but his skill is shown in his writing. As we wander through this marvelous book we will be given insights that only a man who had been educated, was fluent in two languages (Aramaic and Greek), had mastery of the monetary system of the Roman government, was an observer of men, and lastly one who moved amongst those in power as well as the poor who came by his tax booth in Capernaum could know. Yes, he had compromised his Jewishness by working for the Romans and thus was castigated by the populace that he extorted. But one day the Master happened by his way and called him to leave all and follow Him. From that point on we see the most radical change of all of the apostles, leaving all and willing to face the scorn of the Romans as well as the religious leaders of his time. He was fully committed to the very end. This is the man who will introduce us to the ways of Jewish society and ultimately the Messiah Himself.
He was also a researcher as we see by the first chapter in which he introduces us to the lineage of Jesus. He traces the OT line to the monarchy and exile and back to present time. He is bold in including five women! Women were never included in the lines of descent in any rabbinical genealogical records but Matthew would have none of this exclusion. He noted prostitutes, would be prostitutes, Moabites who were idolators, women who were used for sexual favor that we may see God’s love and tenderness for the most vulnerable. Matthew wanted his audience to know that no matter your history God has a plan for you and He will use you in that plan.
Matthew is a master story teller as we see in just the first chapter. “and this is how it all began” he might say today. Sit with me and I will share with you my journey with the man I call the Messiah, the man who called me from the tax booth to follow Him. What an adventure!
Now I have to ask myself, what gifts has the Lord given to me that He wants me to use to challenge others to follow Him? Am I using them as Matthew used his ? How about you?