Theme: Evidences of Matthew’s Conversion
This week’s lessons show us the depth of the mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, who continues to call, not those who believe they are righteous, but sinners into his kingdom.
Scripture: Matthew 9:9-13
Now here is Matthew’s call following that story of the healing of the paralytic, and it is a way of saying as clearly as he can possibly say it that Jesus Christ came to save him. Everybody would agree to that, wouldn’t they? If anybody needed to be saved it was that tax collector because tax collectors and sinners are the very same thing. Everybody knew that forgiveness is what he needed, which is precisely what he received. Jesus came not only to call Matthew to a different life, but to save him.
Now you ask the question “How do we know that he saved him?” After all, all we’re told Jesus said to him was, “Matthew, follow me,” and he did. The account is very brief. But we know it because of two things. First of all, he immediately began to testify to his new-found faith in Jesus Christ. Someone will say to me, “Well, you said a moment ago that there is not a word from this man’s lips recorded in any one of the Gospels.” And that is true. We don’t have a single word that Matthew ever spoke during the lifetime of Jesus Christ. But if you looked at the verses that immediately follow the story of his call you’ll find that the first thing that happens is that Jesus is there having dinner in Matthew’s house. We know that he was saved because immediately after that he has a dinner for Jesus, and at this dinner he invites all his friends.
What other kind of friends would Matthew have? Matthew didn’t have any friends among the Pharisees. They wouldn’t make friends with a sinner like Matthew. And he didn’t have any friends among the scribes. They wouldn’t have anything to do with a man like Matthew either. He didn’t have any friends among the prosperous business community of the day. He didn’t have any friends among the leaders of the synagogue. The only friends he had were the publicans, the tax collectors, and the sinners. And of course there were many of them. But those were the ones he invited. Luke says it in even stronger language. He said, “Matthew gave a great dinner and invited all his friends.”
Now let me say that if a person is saved by Jesus Christ that is the first way you know it. It’s not the only way, and it’s not the last way but it’s the first way. When Jesus Christ puts his new life within their hearts the first thing they do is express it by some kind of public testimony. And that is why when you talk about something like secret discipleship that is always essentially a contradiction in terms. Oh, it may be that somebody is timorous and in a certain situation because of their fear of what might happen they hold back somewhat from saying what they ought to say. But ultimately it’s got to be one way or the other. Either the secrecy kills the discipleship or the discipleship kills the secrecy. And if a person has really been saved by Jesus Christ one way in which you know it is that they speak and give testimony to him.
That is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. What does it mean when it talks as it does in Acts about being filled with the Holy Spirit? Is it speaking about some esoteric experience? It doesn’t mean that at all. Every time in Acts someone is filled with the Holy Spirit they give evidence of it by testifying to Jesus Christ. And so we know that Matthew was converted because the first thing he wanted to do is bring Jesus into a place where his friends would be able to hear him.
Let me suggest that there is another way in which we know he was truly converted, and that is in line with Jesus’ testimony to the effect that those who persevere to the end will be saved. You see, years later, even though we hear nothing at all from Matthew during the lifetime of Jesus Christ in this or any of the other Gospels, he is, nevertheless doing something important after the death and resurrection of Christ and the expansion of the gospel. He is writing his gospel. From the very beginning to the very end, this tax collector, this sinner and despised outcast who was utterly unacceptable to almost anybody but other sinners, was received by the Lord Jesus Christ. And in his Gospel this man is now testifying to the one who saved him.
Now I want to apply this in some practical ways. First of all, this story, if we understand it and if we are saved, should make us grateful for our own salvation. Are you truly thankful? Do you marvel at the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ saved you? I think that often we don’t marvel at that because deep down we at least sometimes think we are the kind of people who deserve saving. We don’t want to put it this way because we know we’re not supposed to boast, but in our hearts we have this kind of attitude. But the truth is that God did not choose you because you were great but because you were not great. If you understand that then the first result in your life is that you’re going to be thankful to the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation. You’re going to marvel over why he ever chose you.
How do the two stories of Jesus’ healing of the paralytic and of his calling of Matthew fit together?
From the study, what two evidences do we have of Matthew’s conversion?
What is the first application we see from this story?
Application: How can you show your genuine thankfulness for your salvation?
Key Point: When Jesus Christ puts his new life within their hearts the first thing they do is express it by some kind of public testimony. And that is why when you talk about something like secret discipleship that is always essentially a contradiction in terms. Oh, it may be that somebody is timorous and in a certain situation because of their fear of what might happen they hold back somewhat from saying what they ought to say. But ultimately it’s got to be one way or the other. Either the secrecy kills the discipleship or the discipleship kills the secrecy. And if a person has really been saved by Jesus Christ one way in which you know it is that they speak and give testimony to him.