Posted by: genelnicholsblog | February 11, 2016

where he had come from

Have you ever been reading something that you have read before (maybe even many times), and something hits you that you have never noticed before?  I had just such an experience this past week.  I love the study of the 12 apostles; I find them and their stories quite fascinating.  As I noticed that our daily Bible reading was approaching the end of the book of Matthew, I got to thinking about the author and apostle … and tax collector.

It is interesting how our minds work and the Spirit leads.  Timed perfectly with the ending of our time in Matthew, was the recurring task of paying our property taxes.  As I paid them, I suppose I did a bit of grumbling.   Probably not unlike the people who used to pay Matthew … the tax collector.  It made me ponder Matthew’s profession a bit further.  Would you want that job??  Matthew was the type of tax collector that sat in a tax office and collected the money.  He was the most hated of the tax men and his position offered the greatest possibility of intimidation and theft!  And yet, one day, as Jesus walked by …

 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
Matthew 9:9

In reading further, I came upon words I’ve read countless times before, but saw something in them which I had never “seen” before … ever.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Matthew 10:2-4

Philip … Bartholomew … Thomas … Matthew the tax collector!!

“… the tax collector” – these are Matthew’s own words.

Matthew reminds us who he was.  He describes himself as others would (maybe how he saw himself) … a hated, greedy, low-down tax collector.  Matthew was considered a traitor to his own people, the Jews.  His only friends were other tax collectors (see Matthew 9:10).  I am sure people assumed he was a crook, a thief, and so Matthew clearly writes that in Scripture for the world to read.  If it was me, I would just be “Matthew.” I would add no other designation; I would want people to forget who I had been. But not Matthew.

If you had to designate a “theme” or bent to the book of Matthew it would be forgiveness.  Are you seeing what hit me?  Matthew was so humbled by being asked by Jesus to follow Him, by becoming one of the twelve chosen, by being forgiven, that he had to remind us where he had come from.

I don’t know about you, but Mike and I are so busy.  The days blur, as do the weeks.  I neglect to praise the Lord.  I miss the good things of the day because I am so tired at night.  Matthew wrote a perennial reminder of where he had come from and how much he had been forgiven. Today, let’s take a moment and humble ourselves to our awesome Lord, then thank Him for the forgiveness that was a pure gift to us … so undeserving.

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