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Inspirational Message

Inspirational Message: Matthew Was Called to Follow Jesus

By Gladys McElmore

This gospel presents Jesus as the king promised to the Jewish people. Matthew quoted much of Isaiah’s prophecies about Jesus with special emphasis on His authority and power. Levi (Matthew 9:9) left everything to follow Jesus. In the list of the twelve disciples, he called himself a tax collector. This writing was prepared for the converts from Judaism around 70 A.D. Matthew traced the genealogy of Jesus as far back as Abraham to assure us that the King and Messiah of Israel is the fulfillment of all Old Testament promises. Matthew repeatedly refers to Jesus as the Son of David to the Jewish audience. Clearly we understand Matthew’s message that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah! The forty-two generations are outlined before the miraculous birth of Jesus in chapter 1. We can read on until the Great Commission was spoken in chapter 28.

Matthew ran a toll booth or a tax office at a fishing village of Capernaum, collecting taxes from people transporting fish and other goods in that area. Tax collectors were hated and considered corrupt so that many Jews treated them as ritually unclean. Jesus met Matthew at the booth on his job and invited him to become a disciple. Matthew agreed and immediately asked Jesus to stay for dinner. Who were the local dinner guests? Were they religious people? Matthew invited tax collecting friends. Jewish leaders were enraged and asked, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum” (Matthew 9:11)? Tax collectors and sinners ate with Jesus who made everyone feel welcome. “Healthy people don’t need a doctor … sick people do”, Jesus replied. Jesus came to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough (Matthew 9:12-13). As we read and learn, we will understand that Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Who is righteous anyway? “Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:9-10). Why become emotional, stressed and frustrated trying to classify others when Jesus accepted everybody? It may be well to spend time taking care of personal improvements. We can always ask God for greater opportunities to serve others as we improve ourselves.

Matthew, the writer, wrote to Jews about a Jew named Jesus whose baptism, messages and miracles all point to Him as Christ the King. Because He lives, we have a Savor, a redeemer and an eternal King! Can we use non-threatening strategies to meet new people who are spiritually needy? How can we show others the likeness of Christ without force or pressure? We can ask God to grant us courage to lead others to Him. Jesus will meet us anywhere, so Matthew brought the GOOD NEWS into their world. God puts a variety of people in our lives and He puts us in their lives for reasons that no one can explain. Let us continue to read about Matthew and his 28-chapter book and apply some of his advice whenever possible.

As we continue to study the many translations and writings of biblical scholars, we are ever mindful of the culture and history of the 1st century A.D. when Matthew lived. How does the end of Matthew’s writing guide us in present day living patterns? He ends with the words of the Great Commission which directs our local and worldwide missionary activities. Jesus the Messiah was sent from God and will always be alive in our minds knowing that He will be with us until the end of the world!

Mrs. Gladys R. McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.

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