May 16, 2015

Matthew 9:9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Matthew tells the story of his own salvation in the simplest of terms, keeping the focus on Jesus. Enormous courage was required to do what he did, yet he doesn’t mention that. I’m sure his joy at being accepted was absolutely overflowing, but he doesn’t focus on that, either. Perhaps the greatest understatement in the verse is the last line. His “following Jesus” was complete, as one of the 12 Apostles and, tradition tells us, as a martyr. He embraced the description of himself that Jesus gives in verse 12, “sick,” because he knew he had found the Great Physician indeed. It was one of the “scandals” of Jesus’ ministry that He accepted this tax collector and even made him one of His closest group. Matthew was deeply aware of that, and perhaps in response to his humility, his record of the life of Jesus was one of the first to be acknowledged as worthy of being in the Bible, and was placed first in the sequence. This is the only place he inserts himself into the narrative, because from this moment on, Jesus was the focus of his life.

My life has few external similarities to that of Matthew, but on the spiritual scale it’s not so different. The more fully I realize that, the better off I will be. I never betrayed my nation and my people by working for invaders for the sake of financial gain, but I have betrayed my God by ignoring Him and following my flesh. I am as totally dependent on the grace of God as Matthew was, and my desire is to receive the same accolade he doubtless has received: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21) I need to be as aware as Matthew was that the “treasures” of this world are nothing compared to the riches to be found in Jesus Christ alone. When I am an independent, self-supporting missionary, some would think I have that lesson down pat, but it is something I still have to remind myself of more frequently than I would like.

Father, thank You indeed for Your “riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Help me share those riches with all who will receive, so that Your house may be full, as You desire. (Luke 14:23) Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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