From Heaven With Love


Chapter 28—Matthew: From Tax Collector to Apostle

This chapter is based on Matthew 9:9-17; Mark 2:14-22; Luke 5:27-39.

Roman officials in Palestine were hated. The fact that taxes were imposed by a foreign power was a continual irritation, a reminder to the Jews that their independence had departed. And the taxgatherers, the publicans, were not merely instruments of Roman oppression, they were extortioners on their own account, enriching themselves at the expense of the people. A Jew who accepted this office was despised and classed with the vilest of society. HLv 177.1

To this class belonged Levi-Matthew, who was to be called to Christ's service. Matthew had listened to the Saviour's teaching, and as the Spirit of God revealed his sinfulness he longed to seek help from Christ; but accustomed to the exclusiveness of the rabbis, he had no thought that this Great Teacher would notice him. HLv 177.2

Sitting at his toll booth one day, the publican saw Jesus approaching. Great was his astonishment to hear the words addressed to himself, “Follow Me.” HLv 177.3

Matthew “left all, rose up, and followed Him.” There was no hesitation, no questioning, no thought of the lucrative business to be exchanged for poverty and hardship. It was enough for him to be with Jesus, to listen to His words, and unite with Him in His work. HLv 177.4

So it was when Jesus bade Peter and his companions follow Him. Immediately they left their boats and nets. Some had friends dependent on them for support, but when they received the Saviour's invitation, they did not inquire, How shall I live, and sustain my family? When afterward Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything?” they could answer, “Nothing.” Luke 22:35. HLv 177.5

To Matthew in his wealth, and to Andrew and Peter in their poverty, the same test was brought. At the moment of success, when the nets were filled with fish, and the impulses of the old life were strongest, Jesus asked the disciples at the sea to leave all for the gospel. So every soul is tested as to whether the desire for temporal good or for fellowship with Christ is stronger. HLv 178.1

No one can succeed in the service of God unless his whole heart is in the work. No one who makes any reserve can be the disciple of Christ, much less His colaborer. When men and women appreciate the great salvation, the self-sacrifice seen in Christ's life will be seen in theirs. Wherever He leads the way, they will follow. HLv 178.2

The call of Matthew excited great indignation. For Christ to choose a publican as one of His immediate attendants was an offense against religious, social, and national customs. By appealing to prejudice the Pharisees hoped to turn popular feeling against Jesus. But among the publicans widespread interest was created. In the joy of his new discipleship, Matthew made a feast at his house and called together his relatives, friends, and former associates. Not only were publicans included, but many others who were proscribed by their more scrupulous neighbors. HLv 178.3