Life Focus Lesson 35

Lesson 35—October 5, 2014

Jesus Loves Even Matthew and Me!

Scripture: Mark 2:13-15; Matthew 9:9-10; Luke 5:27-29

Lesson Goal
To better understand why Matthew’s calling becomes significant for each of us.

Introduction
Jesus had gone “out again by the sea, and all the multitude came to Him and He taught them.” The multitudes hastened after Jesus. No doubt His works and miracles were being told far and wide. Jesus used this gathering by the sea as a teaching opportunity to speak to the multitudes. As He finished teaching, He moved on and saw Matthew the tax collector sitting at his tax office. Most Jews would have nothing to do with Matthew, because of his despised profession. In fact, many Jews regarded tax collectors as traitors and extortionists. Matthew’s tax office was located in close proximity to the sea; therefore, one of his responsibilities was collecting custom duties and taxes on the fishing trade.

• Could the fact that Matthew was a tax collector over the fishing trade of Capernaum perhaps initially have caused tension among the followers of Jesus? Please explain your thoughts.

 

(VV 14-15)
Jesus called Matthew to “follow me,” and Matthew left his tax office and became a follower of Jesus Christ. Matthew invited Jesus to his home, and in celebration of his new life, invited others to join them for a meal. Luke tells us in 5:29 that it was a “great feast.” Gathered on this occasion were Matthew’s old friends, associates, and colleagues he had invited to meet Jesus.

Before we turn our attention to verses sixteen and following to see and study the reaction of the scribes and Pharisees, let us give a bit more thought to those who had assembled for the feast hosted by Matthew.

(V15) “that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples”
Please notice the name literally found between the “tax collectors and sinners” and “His disciples” is Jesus. Without Jesus, this gathering would not have happened. Without Jesus, there would not have been a coming together or sitting down together. We must remember that the world of the tax collectors and the world of the fishermen were two separate worlds. In fact, they were as far apart as we can imagine. Their worlds were separated by greed, distrust, hostility, and religious treason. These two groups simply would not have associated with one another and certainly not in the context of shared fellowship.

• Jesus Christ made the difference! Jesus not only changes the heart of man, but He changes his heart towards other men. How wonderful is Jesus’ love?

• Were it not for Jesus, this meeting would have never taken place. Jesus made the difference both in the hearts of the fishermen and the hearts of the tax collectors. How has Jesus made a difference in your life?

Jesus made the difference, but let us also understand the initiative taken by Matthew. It was Matthew who sent out the invitations. It was Matthew’s hospitality that made this even possible. Matthew had been changed and he wanted to share Jesus with others.
• Why do you think that along with Jesus and His disciples only tax collectors and sinners attended the party?

Something to Think About
Because of his location, near Capernaum, Matthew would obviously have heard about Jesus. Word of this teacher named Jesus was buzzing all around, not just in Capernaum. Matthew would have known about some of the miracles. He would have heard about Jesus’ authority, but do you think that Matthew had ever given any thought to the fact that Jesus would call him? Do you think perhaps Matthew believed that because he had chosen the route of tax collector Jesus would never call him or for that matter even give him a casual glance? Do you think Matthew would have seen himself as outside the reach and calling of Jesus?

But on this day as Jesus walked by, Matthew did not hesitate when Jesus said, “Follow me.” He followed!

• How many of us have thought Jesus would never call me? How many of us have thought Jesus would not use me?

Today you may be in one of our Life Focus classes thinking Jesus would never ever call on or use me. You may think that this “serving Jesus stuff is for the church crowd only.”

• Earlier, I asked the question, “How wonderful is Jesus’ love?” How did you answer that question?

How wonderful is Jesus love? To answer this question, I must make it personal as it applies to my life. Jesus’ love is so wonderful that it crosses all boundaries and barriers created by man and the world. Jesus loves me regardless of the color of my skin. He loves me regardless of what family I am from or who my parents are. He loves me so much it doesn’t matter if I live in the most exclusive section of town or if I live in a rental on the other side. It does not matter if I have a nice big nest egg, or if I am struggling week to week on Social Security. It does not matter if I have a three-car garage or I don’t even have a car. It does not matter if most of life appears to be in front of me or if most of life is passed. He loves me! And He loves you!

JESUS LOVES YOU! JESUS LOVES YOU!
He loves you no matter how you feel today; He loves you regardless of what you’re going through today; He loves you no matter what your circumstances are this very day. Not only does He love you, He loves you so much He wants to use you. Just like Matthew, He wants to use you. He wants to make a difference in your life.

Most of us compare ourselves to someone else and say, “I could never be like them.” In our minds, they appear to totally have it going on. They appear to be the ideal Christian or to have the ideal family, to live in the ideal house, and drive the ideal car. We convince ourselves that these kinds of people are the people Jesus uses.

THE QUESTION
Will we allow Jesus to use us? Matthew followed Jesus. Will you and I follow Him?

Following Jesus begins with one step. Are you willing to take that step today?