Jesus' Call to Matthew
“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
That is Matthew’s modest way of telling about his conversion. He did not tell anything about having a nice big house. He did not say anything about being rich. He left that for the other fellow to say.
I want to read to you what Mark’s Gospel has to say about the call of Matthew, second chapter, verses 13 through 17.
“And he went forth again by the sea side, and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.
“And as he passed by he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
“And it came to pass that as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many pubilcans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many, and they followed him.
“And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
“When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Luke 5:27-28 relates the incident thus,
“And after these things he went forth and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom; and he said unto him, Follow me.
“And he left all, rose up, and followed him.”
It was a wonderful way Matthew had of telling his story—the story of Jesus and His love. Matthew was a tax-gatherer and he was hated. The Pharisees and Scribes were members of the Sanhedrin, and they were a bossy bunch, to say the least. They were against the publicans.
The manner in which they gathered taxes was something like this: The privilege was sold to the highest bidder. They would give some rich Jew a chance to go in and buy up with the largest bid and he would get the privilege of taxing the people so much money. He had the permission of the government to make the people pay all the taxes they could get. How such a tax gatherer was hated.
They said He ate with publicans and sinners. That is the way they were classed. You could find them anywhere. They called them hogs and grafters and thieves, but they made money all the same.
Matthew lived down in Capernaum, and when Jesus Christ came down I don’t doubt but that he heard John preach. Jesus went down to Capernaum but He did not preach in the synagogue. He went out, on the street corner, and Matthew sitting down there in his office, (he was in the grafting business) heard Jesus. I think his heart got heavy and he longed for something that was better than money.
When John came preaching something new, “Behold! the Lamb of God,” I think Matthew got under conviction. When Jesus came along, Matthew listened. My friends, if you could only hear the voice of Jesus. There is no music like it—the music that Jesus Christ utters. I wish I could hear him singing, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy leaden.”
I think Matthew got interested and looked every day for His coming. I think Matthew just leaned out of the window waiting for a chance to hear Jesus, all the time Jesus was talking to the crowd. Remember, Jesus was talking to Matthew. When Jesus was talking to the multitude he was also preaching to Peter in the boat.
Matthew said to himself: My, this is a reasonable proposition. If I ever get a chance I am going to follow Him. I don’t think he ever let his wife in on the thing at all. He was just going to swallow the whole thing. God help you and I to remember that glad day that one day in our life when Jesus called us. Jesus turned and said: “Matthew, follow me.” He never stopped to fix up his books. He knew what it would cost him. He had to leave his business. He locked up and went. It did not take him long, did it? He headed for home fast. Believe me, he got to it fast. It did not take him long to hitch up with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Matthew never had any chance. The church did not want him. Here comes along Jesus, and Jesus said: “Come, and follow me.” All his children at school were called the sinner’s children. The people all envied Matthew because he could eat beefsteak while they were eating boneless liver. He left everything and followed Jesus. That is a new way of using sinners. When we got wrong-doers we get the police after them, hang them by the neck and use them roughly. What are you going to do with a drunkard? Why you will kick him out.
Jesus said: Come, and follow me. Be my disciple. Fellowship with me. I have been kicked around so many times. Nobody wanted me, and I found a new way. They threw me out of a barrel house down here on Clark Street, and I was picked up and dragged into a mission.
Jesus Christ is saying to you tonight, “Follow me!” Jesus Christ is calling you to come and follow Him and He will make you fishers of men. He will make you a child of God. He will make you fit to live in this world and in the world to come. Thank God for Jesus calling men who are sinners.
Matthew made Jesus a great feast in his own house. What a wonderful feast that must have been. God gives every man a chance. Every one can have a chance in Jesus. You cannot get along without Him. A man that has skidded a little bit is usually kicked down lower and lower. I thank God that Jesus Christ gives men a chance when the world cannot give them a chance. There is no one that can do anything for you, then Jesus comes along and gives you a chance.
Jesus called Matthew because Matthew needed him. If you knew your need like He knows it, you would flee to Him and find Him tonight. You just look at an old publican. Jesus saw a heart that could beat with love and compassion. Jesus said: You come and follow me. He is saying that same thing to you tonight. “There is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Therefore we need Jesus for salvation. Who can keep you but Jesus? Do you feel like quitting? You need Jesus to keep you. You need Him to guide you, and so He comes and calls you while you are yet His enemy. Then He sticks out a word like this: Come!
I don’t have very much trouble getting people to Christ when they see their need. You say, I can get along pretty well. Some other fellow will say: I have found a new way. In the last analysis none of the new or old, or any way works, but the Lord Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” You need Jesus. All you have to do in the world is to know your need of Jesus.
You say, I have not got to the place where I need Him. Listen to me! With no underclothing on my body, no socks on my feet, one night on the 19th day of January, I heard Him and I saw my need. I have had twenty-five years with Him, and it is just wonderful to know what a loving Saviour He is.
If there was another name, if there was another way, if there was another Christianity, if there was any other thing to offer men, you need not think God would have sent Jesus Christ to die to save you.
There is another side to this story. Jesus needed Matthew. Is God dependent upon some old tax gatherer? If you, my dear friends, don’t answer the call, nobody else will do the work. Matthew could do for Jesus what no other man could do. Matthew wrote the first Gospel. Jesus can see in him a scribe that will write the first Gospel. He could not get the Scribes and Pharisees to write it.
If you will arise, leave all and follow Him, God will do something for you. God will make great use of you if you come to Him. All you need to do is to realize that you need Him. How do you know who is in this crowd tonight? How do you know what God will do if you surrender tonight? You think that thing through. There is somebody in here that is more likely in every way than Mr. Moody, who founded this church.
Just think what God can do with you. How much God needs you. Did He need that little boy, D.L. Moody? When he was a little fellow he had the small-pox. When he came to Chicago and went to work in a shoe store, and finally became a member in the church, and a great fellow, and because of what God made of him, he went around to the people and visited them because God fitted him for his work.
You say, I have done everything in the world that is bad. Won’t you come and follow Jesus tonight, and say: Lord, if you can, use me!
Harry Monroe left a glass of beer on the bar and went around the square to kill time, and wandered into a rescue mission. He was saved. He led me to Christ. No one else could do the work that Harry Monroe did. He was my father in the gospel. He called me his Timothy. He called me his son. How he loved me. Nobody thought he was worth saving. He was hardly worth killing. God got hold of him and He used him. Harry Monroe was used of God. God needed Harry. God needs you.
Sam Hadley, after he was saved, went down into the dens of sin and iniquity in that wicked city of New York and lugged from the pits thousands upon thousands of drunkards and prostitutes. God needed Sam Hadley. No one else could do this work. God wants you, my friend, here tonight.
Nobody else could do my work. It has not been much, but just the same He needed me. Nobody cared for me. I had no place to go. God wanted me, so the door swung open and I went in.
Tom Mackey, while in a drunken condition, got saved. Tom opened the door for me to go into the Mission that night. If Tom had not been saved I would have hit the lake and would have been in hell. God needed Tom Mackey.
Fathers here tonight, some little boy is waiting for you to come to Christ so that you can lead him to Christ. Some wife is waiting for you to be saved so that she can come to Christ. Unsaved women tonight, your husband may be waiting for you so that he can come to Christ. Jesus needs you and He never can do the work He has for you until He gets you.
God works through men. That is why He needed Matthew and that is why He needs you. If you don’t come you will not only be lost yourself, but people will rise up and damn you because you are there.
I gave my brother George his first glass of beer. But I led that boy to Christ. I led eleven of my own family to Christ. God needed me. You say, There is nothing I can do. You come to Jesus and you will find out He needs you. Suppose Matthew had sat still, we would never have had a word of that Gospel of Matthew to the Jews. Matthew came to Jesus. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
Some of you folks are fighting things when you ought to be serving God. You can see some old cuss, while God can see a soul in that same individual. You can see some old drunkard, while God can see a saint in him.
I used to sell my shoes for whisky. I have never wanted a drink since God saved me.
Matthew did a wise thing. He took Jesus home with him. Before he ever had a chance to go back on his stand for Christ, he invited all his friends to meet Christ, publicans and sinners. Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
These people began to say, Don’t you see your Master is in there eating with publicans and sinners? Matthew took Him home. He invited all the publicans and sinners, with his own family. Luke says he made a great feast. I don’t believe that was a little luncheon. He made a great feast. It had all the trimmings. He invited all his friends and he said, “I want you to meet Jesus.”
I wish tonight, my friends, I could help you to see the crowd. Every woman that was living crooked was there. All the drunkards, all the gamblers were there. Matthew said, “I want you to see Jesus.” They knew what had happened down at the office. The biggest thing you can do is to give your heart to God and hurry home and take Jesus with you and introduce Him to your wife. How your home would brighten up tonight if you would only take Jesus home. Give them little kiddies a chance to hear you pray.
Matthew went on record for Jesus. When he commenced to talk to them about how God saved him they began to back pedal. When he began to let them see the Lord Jesus they had nothing to say.
If you will come and give Jesus your heart, God will call you to such a work that nobody else in the world can do. For many days some of you have been saying, “The first time I get a chance I will do it.” I am going to give you a chance tonight.
You have promised God if He would get you out of certain scrapes you would serve Him. Don’t you let the devil tell you nobody can use you. God will save you and He will use you. Come and accept Christ tonight. Make Him your loving Saviour, and give Him a chance to use you.