The book, or Gospel, of Matthew is one of the most important books of the entire Bible. It is the first book of the New Testament and is the fortieth book of the Bible and contains 28 chapters. Matthew himself was one of the twelve Apostles. He was a tax gatherer but was called by Christ to be an apostle where his name was Levi (Mark 2:14).
We do not need to be confused by the name change. Whenever God changes someone’s name in the scripture, He does so for a reason. We can look at Abraham who was Abram before his encounter with God and the same is true for Saul who became Paul so a name change is not uncommon. However, unlike in today’s time where people change their name to do away with a past or because they are ashamed of their given name, God gives people a new name to set them apart in order to establish a new identity.
The book of Matthew is a significant part in human history as it is the beginning of the New Testament but more importantly, there was a four-hundred year period of silence between God and the Jewish people that spanned from the ending of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. There was a warning given at the end of the Old Testament that the Prophet Elijah would be sent before the coming of the Lord which is why there is a chair included within Jewish festivals as they await Elijah’s return to welcome the Messiah. To this, Matthew 11:13-14 tells us “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.”
From the book of Matthew, we learn many things especially from the Sermon on the Mount but perhaps the most important lesson that we can take away from Matthew’s Gospel is that Christ came to this Earth to save those people who are sinners. Notice how I put “those people who are sinners” which his purposely done as we are all sinners and Christ came to save us all but not all people acknowledge that they are sinners or that they need Christ. When people are so arrogant and foolish that they deny the Messiah, their own shortcomings and flaw, and reject the salvation that Christ offers, there is nothing that we, as His children, can do: ”But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 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” (Matthew 9:12-13).
The Sermon on the Mount spans three different chapters and offers us some of the most important lessons that we have ever been given and from Matthew 5:3, Christ gives us this message: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In other words, we learn that Christ did not come to save those people who are self-righteous people but rather, those who know that they are not good and in need of saving and when we look at the life that Christ lived, we see what He was truly here for. He did not come to enrich Himself in any way except with love and mercy to His people as it is impossible to save a person who claims they are perfect as Christ instructs in Matthew 11:28: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew had a great life full of riches and luxury. There was very little that he had to worry about, personally, but because he was a tax collector, he was not seen in a positive light by the public. He was seen as a sinner and a despicable person not because he was a bad person but because he worked for the Roman government and collected taxes from his own people in Capernaum. In terms of those collecting taxes, not much has changed today as the collecting of taxes has become a very serious and personal issue with many people but when Matthew was called away from his comfortable lifestyle to life for Christ, he did not hesitate and picked up his cross and followed Him: “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).
But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 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.”–Matthew 9:12-13