“And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9)

This is Matthew speaking about himself. In just thirty-two words he gives the complete account of how he came to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. Just thirty-two words; that is all he said about himself. And even then, he did not use the personal pronoun “I.” We know very little about Matthew. But what we do know should make him a role model for every Christian. The place of custom was where taxes were levied. They were living under Roman rule and the taxes were set by the Roman government. Matthew was a tax collector – a publican. Publicans were generally considered to be very low in character. The indication is that most of them collected higher taxes than Rome required and pocketed the override (Luke 3:12-13). Not all tax collectors were sorry characters, however. Zacchaeus was chief among the publicans; yet he was an honest man (Luke 19:1-8). This brings us to our first major point about Matthew.

Matthew was better than his surroundings would indicate

He was a good character among sorry characters. If you and I had been looking for prospects, we would likely have passed Matthew by. But Jesus did not judge him by others of the same trade. He saw that Matthew was far above his fellow tax collectors. Thus, He said, “come follow me,” and immediately Matthew obeyed. What an example for us; the Christian does arise above his surroundings (John 17:15-16; Romans 12: 1-2).

Matthew was a busy man; not the most prestigious occupation, but he was working

Jesus never called one who was idle! If you want work done, get a busy person to do it. A busy person who has priorities is the one who will get the job done. Matthew was such a man; he was not too busy to follow Jesus. Again, what an example for us.

Matthew was willing to pay the price

Jesus stated the price of being His disciple. “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) We must follow Matthew’s example; he had a good job, but he left all to follow Jesus. Is a man following Matthew if he works on Sunday morning because it pays double time? If he makes a trip to the Holy Land, but cannot be with a local church on Sunday to break bread, rather has shipside supper? If he goes on Saturday to set up college camp and on Sunday has “camp supper” instead of going to a local church? Brethren, if heaven is worth anything, it is worth everything.

Matthew was a modest man, an humble man

In just 32 words he told us about a man called Matthew who was called by Jesus. Even then, he did not say “I” was called. He did not say, as Luke did, that he left all (Luke 5:28). That says a great deal about Matthew. In a together situation, probably no single factor causes more trouble than ambition, wanting attention, looking to be noticed, or having one’s own way. Like Matthew, we must be humble in relation to one another (1 Peter 5:5-6). Matthew did not make the mistake that James and John made (Mark 10:35-37). Like Matthew, let us be modest, humble, and do what we can.

Matthew was interested in the souls of others (Matthew 9:10; Luke 5:29)

Matthew was too modest to say, “I made a feast.” But Luke tells us that it was Levi who made a great feast and invited others to come learn from Jesus (Luke 5:27-32). We do not know whether any of those invited became followers of Jesus. But we know that Mathew did right and set us a great example. We do not know the outcome of our efforts to teach others but let us do like Matthew and make the effort and be content to leave the increase to God (1 Corinthians 3:6). This man called Matthew sets before us five notable traits. In this he is an example for us. Brethren, let us be sure:

  1. That we arise above our surroundings and follow Jesus.
  2. That we do not get too busy to Follow Jesus.
  3. That we are always willing to pay the price of discipleship.
  4. That we are humble enough to deny self and serve.
  5. That we are interested enough in souls to put forth some effort to introduce them to Jesus.

Jesse Jenkins