Lesson 8 | Sabbath, 24 November 2018
“There may be marked defects in the character of an individual, yet when he becomes a true disciple of Jesus, the power of divine grace makes him a new creature. Christ’s love transforms, sanctifies him. But when persons profess to be Christians, and their religion does not make them better men and better women in all the relations of life–living representatives of Christ in disposition and character–they are none of His.” –My Life Today, p. 257.
1. When the Lord called him to become His disciple, was Matthew looking for work, or did he already have a job? Did he make excuses for refusing the call, as did others? What was shown by the fact that he immediately left his work and followed the Master?
Matthew 9:9 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.
Mark 2:13, 14 And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. 14And 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.
“When Christ called His disciples to follow Him, He offered them no flattering prospects in this life. He gave them no promise of gain or worldly honor, nor did they make any stipulation as to what they should receive. To Matthew as he sat at the receipt of custom, the Saviour said, ‘Follow Me. And he arose, and followed Him.’ Matthew 9:9. Matthew did not, before rendering service, wait to demand a certain salary, equal to the amount received in his former occupation. Without question or hesitation he followed Jesus. It was enough for him that he was to be with the Saviour, that he might hear His words and unite with Him in His work.” –Gospel Workers, p. 113.
Honored by the Master’s presence
2. How great was Matthew’s joy when the Lord called him to become one of His disciples? In honor of whom did this disciple prepare a feast? Who were present?
Luke 5:29 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.
Matthew 9:10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
Mark 2:15 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
“When invited to a feast, Christ accepted the invitation, that He might, while sitting at the table, sow the seeds of truth in the hearts of those present. He knew that the seed thus sown would spring up and bring forth fruit. He knew that some of those sitting at meat with Him would afterward respond to His call, ‘Follow Me.’ Ours is the privilege of studying Christ’s manner of teaching as He went from place to place, everywhere sowing the seeds of truth.” –Evangelism, p. 58.
3. To the scribes and Pharisees, was it acceptable for Jesus as a rabbi to sit and eat with publicans and sinners? Turning to the disciples, what objection did they raise against Him?
Mark 2:16 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?
Luke 5:30 But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?
“He was the Prince of heaven, yet He did not choose His disciples from among the learned lawyers, the rulers, the scribes, or the Pharisees. He passed these by, because they prided themselves on their learning and position. They were fixed in their traditions and superstitions. He who could read all hearts chose humble fishermen who were willing to be taught. He ate with publicans and sinners, and mingled with the common people, not to become low and earthly with them, but in order by precept and example to present to them right principles, and to uplift them from their earthliness and debasement.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 197.
Seeing others and oneself as Jesus does
4. What did the scribes and Pharisees think of the publicans, sinners, and even Jesus, who welcomed them?
Luke 7:34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
“Of the Roman officials in Palestine, none were more hated than the publicans. The fact that the taxes were imposed by a foreign power was a continual irritation to the Jews, being a reminder that their independence had departed. And the tax gatherers were not merely the instruments of Roman oppression; they were extortioners on their own account, enriching themselves at the expense of the people. A Jew who accepted this office at the hands of the Romans was looked upon as betraying the honor of his nation. He was despised as an apostate, and was classed with the vilest of society.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 272.
5. How did Jesus face the opposition? How many people in the world are spiritually sick? Therefore, what should be every disciple’s greatest interest?
Matthew 9:12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
“It is when you are prospered, when all men speak well of you, that you are in danger. Be on your guard, for you will be tried. My greatest fear for you has been that you would have too great prosperity, and that you would fail to learn that your dependence is alone upon God. You have been placed in a position of great trust and honor, and there has been danger of your becoming dizzy and forgetting your dependence upon God. You have been placed where you can exert a far-reaching influence for good if you keep your eye single to the glory of God. Your heavenly Father loves you, and He will draw you to Himself by the trials that seem to you severe.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 124.
What the Lord desires
6. Does God prefer sacrifice or mercy? Therefore, what was Jesus’ purpose in calling Matthew to be His disciple? Is he still calling men and women to become His followers?
Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Mark 2:17 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.
“In His teaching, Christ sought to educate and train the Jews to see the object of that which was to be abolished by the true offering of Himself, the living Sacrifice. ‘Go ye,’ said He, ‘and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice.’ He presented a pure character as of supreme importance. He dispensed with all pomp, demanding that faith that works by love and purifies the soul, as the only qualification required for the kingdom of heaven.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 398.
“Christ ate with publicans and sinners, as well as with Pharisees. When He was invited to their homes, He accepted the invitation. In this He offended the scribes and Pharisees, who thought that a Jew should not thus forget the wall of partition that tradition had erected. But with God there is no sect or nationality. When thus accused, Christ answered, ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’ He placed Himself in the very avenue where He could gain access to perishing souls, and plant in human hearts the seeds of truth, seeds that would spring up and bear fruit to the glory of God.” –Daughters of God, pp. 236, 237.
7. What heavenly principle was Jesus following when He chose one who belonged to a socially despised class? What made it possible for Levi-
Matthew to become a disciple, apostle, and evangelist?
1 Corinthians 1:27-29 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29That no flesh should glory in his presence.
“To this class belonged Levi-Matthew, who, after the four disciples at Gennesaret, was the next to be called to Christ’s service. The Pharisees had judged Matthew according to his employment, but Jesus saw in this man a heart open for the reception of truth. Matthew had listened to the Saviour’s teaching. As the convicting Spirit of God revealed his sinfulness, he longed to seek help from Christ; but he was accustomed to the exclusiveness of the rabbis, and had no thought that this Great Teacher would notice him.
“Sitting at his toll booth one day, the publican saw Jesus approaching. Great was his astonishment to hear the words addressed to himself, ‘Follow Me.’ ” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 272, 273.
For additional study
“The Redeemer will not accept divided service. Daily the worker for God must learn the meaning of self-surrender. He must study the word of God, learning its meaning and obeying its precepts. Thus he may reach the standard of Christian excellence. Day by day God works with him, perfecting the character that is to stand in the time of final test. And day by day the believer is working out before men and angels a sublime experiment, showing what the gospel can do for fallen human beings….
“Today the Saviour calls us, as He called Matthew and John and Peter, to His work. If our hearts are touched by His love, the question of compensation will not be uppermost in our minds. We shall rejoice to be co-workers with Christ, and we shall not fear to trust His care. If we make God our strength, we shall have clear perceptions of duty, and unselfish aspirations; our life will be actuated by a noble purpose, which will raise us above sordid motives.” –Gospel Workers, pp. 113, 114.