Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 211/260: Matthew (Levi)

Read Luke 5:27-32; Matthew 9:9-13

Matthew Is Called To Follow The Lord

It is interesting to see the shades of differences between the gospel accounts. These are not contradictions, but added layers that give depth to the incidents and reveal things about the inspired penman and their audiences. Take, for instance, the account of Matthew’s conversion and the subsequent dinner at his house.

In Luke’s account, in which the apostle is called Levi, it is written that when Jesus said, “Follow Me,” that the tax collector “left all, rose up, and followed Him” (Luke 5:28). There is a slight difference in Matthew’s own account; he does not say that he “left all.” Matthew simply says that “he arose and followed Him” (Matthew 9:9).

Have you noticed the distinction before? It is very subtle, but it speaks to the apostle’s humility. He did not want to draw attention to the fact that he left behind his occupation to follow Jesus. He did not want to boast. But Luke, an impartial third party, could state it plainly: Levi “left all, rose up, and followed Him.” What a commentary on the apostle’s humility and commitment!

A second difference highlights the interests of the intended audiences. It is believed that Matthew, a Jew, wrote his account of the gospel with the Jew in mind. Thus, there were references to Old Testament passages that would be important to the Jewish reader. When Jesus’ act of eating with tax collectors and sinners was brought to light, the Lord responded, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:12-13). He quotes from the prophet Hosea (6:6). Luke, on the other hand, with primarily a Gentile readership in view, did not include the quotation of the prophet.

One final note about this incident: some try to use this event to justify their own actions of sin when committed with other sinners. They will declare, “Jesus partied with sinners, too!” Is that what is taught in the gospel accounts? Jesus sat with sinners, that is true, but He never sinned with sinners. He held them accountable and called them to a better life. He lifted them up out of their sin and showed them the way to serve God.

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