“He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him . . . Many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?’” - Matthew 9:9-11 NASB
The artist we know as “Caravaggio” achieved his first real breakthrough in 1597 (when he was just twenty-six). He was commissioned to paint decorations of a church in Rome. The subject was the life of Matthew. When finished in 1601, the paintings helped others recognize his extraordinary talent.
Perhaps the most dramatic of these paintings is “The Calling of Saint Matthew.” A biographer commented how Caravaggio depicted “the central importance of the human drama,” and how this painting impacted people because they related to the unfolding drama.
But the revolutionary insights of this painting only hint at the real-life drama that unfolded when Jesus called Matthew. This man was a tax collector, among the most hated group in society. He collected taxes for Rome, taking away the hard-earned resources of the people to support Israel’s oppressor.
Yet he was the man Jesus wanted to be His discipline. By calling him, Jesus was making it clear that if Matthew could be saved and forgiven, so could anyone else.
Many did not understand this calling, but Jesus told them that it was the sick who needed a physician. That God desired compassion, not sacrifice, and that He “did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that He sent Jesus that all of us could have our sins forgiven, and have eternal life (John 3:16). Ask God to give you a burden for Souls and open doors to share His love. To love even those who may seem unlovable.
PrayerFather, give me a burden for the Lost. Give me compassion to reach Souls with the Gospel. Fill me with Your love. I dedicate my resources to serving You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Extended ReadingMatthew 9