Named Matthew - Generally supposed to be the same who wrote this history of our blessed Lord. Mathai signifies a gift in Syriac; probably so named by his parents as implying a gift from God.
The receipt of custom - The custom-house, τελωνιον - the place where the taxes levied by the Romans of the Jews, were collected.
Follow me - That is, become my disciple.
And he arose, and followed him - How blessed it is to be obedient to the first call of Christ - how much happiness and glory are lost by delays, though conversion at last may have taken place!
He saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom - That is, at the place where “custom,” or “tribute,” was received; or, in other words, he was a “publican” or tax-gatherer. See the notes at Matthew 5:47. This man was the writer of this gospel. The same account is found in Mark 2:14, and Luke 5:27-28. Both those evangelists call him “Levi.” That it was the same man is known by the circumstances in which he was called being the same in all the evangelists, and by their all concurring in the statement that the Saviour was present at a feast soon after he called him, and by the fact that “Levi” is not mentioned in the catalogue of the apostles. The Jews were in the habit of giving several names to the same person. Thus Peter was also called Simon and Cephas. It is worthy of remark that Luke has mentioned a circumstance favorable to Matthew, which Matthew himself has omitted. Luke says “he left all.” Had Matthew said this, it would have been a commendation of himself utterly unlike the evangelists. No men were ever further from “praising themselves” than they were.
The roots of the plant strike down deep into the soil, and hidden from sight nourish the life of the plant. So with the Christian; it is by the invisible union of the soul with Christ, through faith, that the spiritual life is nourished. But the stony-ground hearers depend upon self instead of Christ. They trust in their good works and good impulses, and are strong in their own righteousness. They are not strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Such a one “hath not root in himself”; for he is not connected with Christ. COL 47.1
The hot summer sun, that strengthens and ripens the hardy grain, destroys that which has no depth of root. So he who “hath not root in himself,” “dureth for a while”; but “when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” Many receive the gospel as a way of escape from suffering, rather than as a deliverance from sin. They rejoice for a season, for they think that religion will free them from difficulty and trial. While life moves smoothly with them, they may appear to be consistent Christians. But they faint beneath the fiery test of temptation. They cannot bear reproach for Christ's sake. When the word of God points out some cherished sin, or requires self-denial or sacrifice, they are offended. It would cost them too much effort to make a radical change in their life. They look at the present inconvenience and trial, and forget the eternal realities. Like the disciples who left Jesus, they are ready to say, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” John 6:60. COL 47.2
There are very many who claim to serve God, but who have no experimental knowledge of Him. Their desire to do His will is based upon their own inclination, not upon the deep conviction of the Holy Spirit. Their conduct is not brought into harmony with the law of God. They profess to accept Christ as their Saviour, but they do not believe that He will give them power to overcome their sins. They have not a personal relation with a living Saviour, and their characters reveal defects both hereditary and cultivated. COL 48.1Read in context »
Christ discerned the possibilities in every human being. He was not turned aside by an unpromising exterior or by unfavorable surroundings. He called Matthew from the tollbooth, and Peter and his brethren from the fishing boat, to learn of Him. Ed 232.1
The same personal interest, the same attention to individual development, are needed in educational work today. Many apparently unpromising youth are richly endowed with talents that are put to no use. Their faculties lie hidden because of a lack of discernment on the part of their educators. In many a boy or girl outwardly as unattractive as a rough-hewn stone, may be found precious material that will stand the test of heat and storm and pressure. The true educator, keeping in view what his pupils may become, will recognize the value of the material upon which he is working. He will take a personal interest in each pupil and will seek to develop all his powers. However imperfect, every effort to conform to right principles will be encouraged. Ed 232.2
Every youth should be taught the necessity and the power of application. Upon this, far more than upon genius or talent, does success depend. Without application the most brilliant talents avail little, while with rightly directed effort persons of very ordinary natural abilities have accomplished wonders. And genius, at whose achievements we marvel, is almost invariably united with untiring, concentrated effort. Ed 232.3Read in context »
There is a large work to be done, and the vineyard of the Lord needs laborers. Missionaries should enter the field before they shall be compelled to cease labor. There are now open doors on every side; they cannot afford to wait to complete years of training; for the years before us are not many, and we need to work while the day lasts. It is not best to advise men and women to take a course of study at Ann Arbor. Many who have been there have not been benefited in the past, and will not be in the future. FE 359.1
Mark the features of Christ's work. He moved in the greatest simplicity. Although His followers were fishermen, He did not advise them to go first into the school of the rabbis before entering upon the work. He called His disciples from their fishers’ nets, and said: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” He called Matthew from the receipt of customs, and said, “Follow Me.” All that they were required to do was to follow Jesus, to do as He commanded them, and thus enter into His school, where God could be their teacher. As long as time shall last, we shall have need of schools. There will always be need for education; but we must be careful lest education shall absorb every spiritual interest. FE 359.2
There is positive peril in advising students to pursue one line of education after another, and to leave them to think that by so doing they will attain perfection. The education that will be obtained will only be deficient in every way. The Lord says: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” This is God's devised plan; and through successive generations, through centuries of heathenism, this plan has been carried forward, not as an experiment, but as an approved way for the spreading of the gospel. Through this method from the beginning, conviction came upon man, and the world was enlightened concerning the gospel of God. The highest grade of schooling that any human being can attain to is the schooling given by the Divine Teacher. This is the knowledge that in a special sense we shall greatly need as we draw near the close of this world's history, and every one will do well to obtain this kind of education. The Lord requires that men shall be under His training. There is a great work to be done in bringing human minds out of darkness into the marvelous light of God. As His human instrumentalities, we are by living faith to carry out His plans. Are we in a condition in which our faith will not work to the glory of God, or are we vessels meet for the Master's use, prepared for every good work? FE 359.3Read in context »
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. GW 113.1
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. GW 113.2
So it was with the disciples previously called. When Jesus bade Peter and his companions follow Him, they immediately left their boats and nets. Some of these disciples had friends dependent on them for support; but when they received the Saviour's invitation, they did not hesitate, inquiring, How shall I live, and sustain my family? They were obedient to the call; and when afterward Jesus asked them, “What I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything?” they could answer, “Nothing.” [Luke 22:35.] GW 113.3Read in context »
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 taxgatherers 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. DA 272.1Read in context »