Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
The Promise of Forgiveness
Compared to some of the other disciples, we don’t know a whole lot about Matthew. Other than the story of Jesus calling Matthew to be his disciple, Matthew’s name is only mentioned 4 times in the New Testament, and those 4 times are each a listing of the 12 disciples. He’s typically way down on the list, in the eighth or ninth spot.
What we do know about Matthew is that he had a very bad reputation in his community. You see, he was a tax collector. He collected money from his fellow countrymen on behalf of the hated Roman government. To make it worse, tax collectors were expected to overcharge and keep the extra money for themselves.
Jesus, of course, was well aware of what Matthew did for a living. And, when Jesus was scolded for eating dinner with Matthew, Jesus didn’t excuse Matthew’s sins. Instead, he announced that spiritually sick people like Matthew were precisely the people he had come to save. One wonders how Matthew felt as Jesus publicly described him as a sinner.
While we don’t know what Matthew felt in the moment, we get a glimpse into his relationship with Jesus when we discover that the name Matthew means “gift of God.” You see, when other writers in the Bible write about Matthew, they don’t call him Matthew. They call him Levi, his given name. Only Matthew calls himself Matthew. He realized that Jesus’ willingness to forgive him and associate with a sinner like him was a gift from God.
Whether or not your name is Matthew, this is also God’s gift to you.
God knows all the ways we are sick with sin. This is why he sent Jesus whose blood is the medicine that cures every sin.
Father in heaven, you know my heart and are aware of my every sin. Let me never forget the gift of forgiveness already won for me by your Son, Jesus. Amen.