'A Year with Jesus' for 12/1/2015
An Outsider's Story
Note from Jesus
You just have to love the apostle Levi! You may know him better as Matthew since that is the name of the first gospel in your New Testament — same guy, just known by both names. My choosing Matthew as one of My 12 apostles was a big surprise to many folks. He had a good, priestly, Jewish name — Levi. However, his profession was considered anything but Jewish. He was a tax collector, and tax collectors were hated by Jewish people in the first century.
People assumed that tax collectors were unclean, sharing in an anti-pious lifestyle. Most Jewish tax collectors in Matthew's time had sold out to the Romans and financially preyed upon their fellow Jews. They also ran around with people generally considered to be sinners. So when Matthew became My disciple, he also threw a big party for his "sinful" friends so they could meet Me (Matthew 9:9-13). Whew! That party created a lot of negative chatter. It also revealed plenty about Matthew's heart, and also Mine!
Notice two things today about Matthew. Both reflect the heart of the Father.
First, Matthew cared about those who were left out. If you read My story from the Gospel of Matthew, you will notice that Matthew wants to show that all kinds of people came to know Me. There were magi from far away, people from all nations becoming disciples, a Roman centurion with great faith, a humble Syrian woman who had a seriously ill child and who gave a clever response to Me, and a lost sheep that needed to be found.
Second, Matthew may have been considered an outsider, but he connected My story to the Father's promises told centuries before I came. Over 15 times, Levi reminds you that My coming was foretold by the prophets.
Bottom line: Matthew wants you to know that God — Father, Son, and Spirit — has always had the plan to bring everyone, including outsiders, true HOPE. That plan was spoken by the prophets centuries before I came. That plan was fulfilled in Me! My coming was not an afterthought. My association with sinners and tax collectors was not a mistake. My death was not a miscalculation. My resurrection was not a last minute fix.
Levi wants you to know that no matter how far on the outside you may feel, I came for you. That's God's long-term plan — the very plan that I came to fulfill!
Verses to Live
Notice just two of the many references to Me from the ancient prophets of Israel that Levi (the apostle Matthew) shares in My story. These references to the prophets can help you see God's long-term plan to include you. The Father has had the plan to reclaim you that goes back a long way before the miracle of My birth!
Joseph woke up from his dream and did exactly what the messenger had told him to do: he married Mary and brought her into his home as his wife (though he did not consummate their marriage until after her son was born). And when the baby was born, Joseph named Him Jesus, Savior. Years and years ago, Isaiah, a prophet of Israel, foretold the story of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus:
A virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and His name will be Immanuel (which is a Hebrew name that means "God with us").(Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:22-25)
But you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
of the clans of Judah, are no poor relation —
From your people will come a Ruler
who will be the shepherd of My people, Israel,
Whose origins date back to the distant past,
to the ancient days.
(Micah 5:2 quoted in Matthew 2:6)
Response in Prayer
Holy God and loving Shepherd, thank You for having the plan to include all of us who felt we were on the outside and without hope. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for choosing someone like Matthew to be one of Your 12 apostles and using him to write Your story in a way that includes us all. Thank You for including me in Your family of grace. Thank You, in Jesus' name. Amen.
For more information about this devotional as well as archives of the material please visit the 'A Year with Jesus' website.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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