JAIRUS, Synagogue Official Whose Daughter Died

Jairus was a “ruler of the synagogue”, which means he was probably in charge of arranging the services for the local synagogue each Sabbath day.

You’ve surely seen ambulances racing at high-speed; sirens blaring and red-lights flashing.  Why are they allowed to go through red lights on their way to an accident or emergency, or on the way to the emergency room of a hospital?  Because life is fragile… and life is precious… and every second counts when it comes to saving life.

That is surely what Jairus was thinking when he came to Jesus, fell at His feet, and begged Jesus to come and heal his dying daughter.  We don’t know how many other remedies Jairus tried before he decided to try Jesus.  But he evidently saw Jesus as his last hope.  And Jesus agreed to go with Jairus.. but, Jesus didn’t seem to have the urgency Jairus would have wished.

We are perplexed by Jesus’ reaction to Jairus; imagine how Jairus must have felt!

But, Jesus didn’t always see things the way we see things.  And, He evidently didn’t see that situation the way Jairus surely saw the situation.  The pressing crowd made things difficult.  Then Jesus stopped… and took the time to find out who had touched His clothing in a crowd, and healed the woman who did.  There is no urgency mentioned concerning Jesus’ pace.  There is no mention that Jesus is concerned they wouldn’t reach the girl in time to help her.  And, even when someone told Jesus along the way that Jairus’ daughter had already died, no mention is made that Jesus expressed any despair.  Jesus overheard what Jairus had been told; he told Jairus to keep his faith: “This is not the time to lose faith, but to trust.”

LifeAPP:

These words Jesus spoke to Jairus ought to be words for us to hold on to, as well.  Fear always makes the outlook hopeless, but trust in God keeps hope alive.  Those who trust in God often find they get back what they thought they had lost.

*  The antidote for fear is to trust in God.

The Bible doesn’t record Jairus’ reaction, but he may have even wondered whether Jesus even cared about his daughter.  But, Jesus didn’t respond that way because He didn’t care about Jairus’ daughter; He responded that way to show how much He really did care!  There was no need to worry.  There was no need to hurry.  God was in complete control of the situation!

When Jesus finally arrived at the home where the girl was, He simply made His way to where they had laid her… and took her by the hand… and raised her to life again.

LifeAPP:

Such is the power of God – and the reason that we, too, can always find great assurance and peace in Him.

You can read the story of Jairus in Mark 5:21-43 & Luke 8:40-56.

MARY MAGDALENE, Follower of Jesus

Mary Magdalene (Mary from the village of Magdala) was one of the more devoted followers of Jesus.  She was among the last to leave His side after His crucifixion and the first to witness His resurrection.  Within the 4 Gospels she is named at least 12 times, more than most of the apostles.

Maybe the reason Mary was so devoted to Jesus is because – according to Luke’s Gospel (8:2) – Jesus delivered her from 7 demons.  From that day on, Mary joined several other women who followed Jesus, and supported His ministry financially.

The remaining biblical references to Mary Magdalene are all connected to the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Long after most of Jesus’ followers had scattered, Mary and the other women lingered at the foot of the cross (Matt. 27:56).  As Jesus’ body was laid in a borrowed tomb, Mary was there, watching that somber, lonely procession (Matt. 27:61).  It was Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” who ventured out from safety to anoint Jesus’ broken body – only to find that the tomb was already empty (Matt. 28:1).

Mary had the honor of being the first person to bear witness to the resurrection.  John gives us an extended look at Mary’s encounter with the risen Christ.  Her first impression was that Jesus was the gardener – the caretaker – of that area of the tombs.  When Mary finally realized who she was talking to, she was overcome with emotion.  But, Jesus discouraged her from clinging to Him; time was short and He had important work for her to do.  Jesus entrusted Mary with the responsibility and privilege of being the first to spread the word that the Messiah had conquered death.

Throughout the years – especially in recent years – in literature and film, ideas that go beyond the gospel presentation of Mary Magdalene as a prominent representative of the women who followed Jesus have been suggested; these have no basis in fact, and are only supposition.  These include giving her a role similar to that of Simon Peter among the male disciples, believing that she had been a prostitute, or that she was the secret lover or wife of Jesus and the mother of their child.  But, again, these are not grounded in fact, and are not at all even suggested in Scripture.

LifeAPP:

New Christians could be taught to share their testimony by the following formula: 1) life before Jesus; 2) how life was changed by Jesus; and 3) the change in life since Jesus.

It is easy to follow that formula in Mary’s life!

We find no trace of “I guess I ought to serve Jesus” or “I probably should have given money to Jesus” in Mary’s life.  Instead, we see a life of gratitude, with no regrets.

If your Christian life has become a dull routine of obligations and “ought-to’s”, ask God to help you recapture the joy of your salvation.

*  Appreciation, not obligation, should be the motivation for what we do for Jesus.

You can read Mary’s story in Luke 8; Matthew 27,28; Mark 15,16; John 19,20.

PHARISEES, Jewish Religious Leaders

The Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought in the Holy Land during the Second Temple period. Pharisaic beliefs became the liturgical and ritualistic basis for Rabbinic Judaism (commonly known as simply Judaism).

The Pharisees were behind much of the opposition Jesus faced, and, sometimes, were the “in-your-face” source of opposition. It’s sad they didn’t realize they had much more in common with Jesus than any of the other religious groups of Jesus’ day. Jesus shared two of the Pharisees’ most important theological doctrines; a bodily resurrection, and a deep devotion to the Torah (the Jewish Law laid out in the first 5 books of the Old Testament).

But, there was a deep chasm between the Pharisees and Jesus. Why?

The Pharisees had become so zealous for correctly interpreting and holding people to the law, they turned it into a power thing. They were legalists. They were so concerned about the letter of the law, they missed the spirit of the law… and, thereby, missed the point of the law. Whether Jesus helped people or not was not nearly as important to them as how and when He did it.

They held themselves up above the people… and vigorously opposed anyone who represented a threat to their power and influence; we see this in their opposition to John the Baptizer, and then to Jesus.

The Jewish historian, Josephus, himself a Pharisee, estimated the total Pharisee population prior to the fall of the Second Temple to be around 6,000. The Pharisees seem to have received the backing and goodwill of the common people, apparently in contrast to the more elite Sadducees. Pharisees claimed Mosaic authority for their interpretation of Jewish Laws, while Sadducees represented the authority of the priestly privileges and prerogatives established since the days of Solomon, when Zadok, their ancestor, officiated as High Priest.

Some of the Pharisees mentioned in the NT were Nicodemus, Simon, Joseph of Arimathea, Gamaliel, and Saul (who would become Paul).

The word “pharisee” (and its derivatives: “pharisaical”, etc.) originally referred to ‘one who is separate/detached’ or ‘one who interprets’; it has come to describe a hypocritical and arrogant person who places the letter of the law above its spirit.

LifeAPP:

Modern-day Pharisees in churches today are not hard to find. There are still those who put process above all else. There are still those who are threatened if they sense their power is slipping away. There are still those who try to draw a circle around themselves and then point accusing fingers at those who aren’t in their circles.

But Jesus came to show Pharisees – then and now – a better way. The way of love and grace.

You can read of the Pharisees in secular history; and also in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; and the book of Acts.

SAMARITAN WOMAN, Who Met Jesus at a Well

The Samaritan woman must have hated going to the well for water every day… all that work, all that gossip about her and her shameful situation; but, it was at that very well that this woman found the source for living water.  This would be water that would truly satisfy and bring eternal life.

No… it wasn’t a Fountain of Youth; it was the Savior of you!

The Samaritans lived in the north-central part of Israel, and they were descended from both Jews and foreign people who had been relocated to Israel by the Assyrians hundreds of years before.  So, Jews views Samaritans as “half-breeds”; both groups despised each other.

I.  The Savior at Sychar (John 4:1-6)

When Jesus was traveling from Jerusalem to Galilee, He took the most direct route – the route most Jews avoided – through Samaria.  There, He stopped at a well known as “Jacob’s Well” at Sychar.  And, there, He met the woman at the well, at midday (a time of day when most woman avoided going to a well for water).

II.  The “Sinner” at Sychar (John 4:7-27)

-  The Contact  (v.7-9)

The woman went at midday to avoid running into other people… people who would look down on her in their judgment of her.

Jesus asked her for water… and she wanted to know why He – a Jewish man – would be talking to her – a Samaritan woman.

-  The Contrasts  (v.10-27)

Jesus spoke to her.  He spoke to her of the difference between liquid water and living water.  He spoke to her of her situation… her many previous marital situations, and her current live-in situation.  He spoke to her of her need for something better… something more.   He spoke to her of true worship.

III.  The Soul-winner at Sychar  (John 4:28-42)

-  Her Faithfulness  (v.28-38)

She was amazed at Jesus… and went back to her village to tell others about Jesus.

-  Her Fruitfulness  (v.39-42)

Many Samaritans came back to that well with her to meet Jesus for themselves… and, that day, many of those Jews came to saving faith in Jesus as the Christ.

LifeAPP:

This woman had a checkered past.  And she wasn’t bragging about her present, either.  And, more than that, her future didn’t look to be any different.

Until, one day – a day that surely started out like any and every other – she met Jesus.  He reminded her of her past, but did not push her away because of it.  He reminded her of her present, but did not stop the current conversation.  And He reminded her of the future that could be hers.

No matter who you think you are, or what you are sure you have done, Jesus is anxious to have this same conversation with you.  Even today!

You can read the story of this Samaritan Woman in John 4:1-42.

NICODEMUS, Religious Leader Taught by Jesus

Nicodemus’ faith did not appear in a moment of sudden illumination.  Instead, it seems to have happened gradually.

The Bible tells us of only 3 episodes from Nicodemus’ life – all of the are recorded in the Gospel of John.

Scene 1

Nicodemus sat for a discussion with Jesus, hoping to hear more from the popular Rabbi/Teacher.  They met at night, leading many to conclude that Nicodemus feared the consequences of being seen with the controversial Jesus.  In Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, Jesus told the interested Pharisee that not one could experience God’s kingdom without being reborn.  Nicodemus was unable to see the difference between “earthly things” and “heavenly things” (John 3:12); he received a mild rebuke from Jesus… accompanied by further explanation (which included the most quoted verse in the Bible – John 3:16).

John does not tell us whether Nicodemus walked away from that conversation with Jesus having believed in Jesus… but the other two episodes that mention Nicodemus are revealing.

Scene 2

As the conspiracy against Jesus grew, some of the religious leaders rebuked the temple guards for not arresting Jesus when they had the chance.  In response, those same guards came to Jesus’ defense.  To this, the Pharisees reported that – since no religious leader had put his faith in Jesus as the Christ – neither should the guards.  Possibly in opposition of this claim, Nicodemus spoke up… challenging his colleagues for condemning Jesus without a hearing (John 7:45-51).

Scene 3

At the death of Jesus, Nicodemus helped Joseph of Arimathea take Jesus’ body from the cross and quickly bury it in an unused tomb (John 19:39-42).

LifeAPP:

Nicodemus’ spiritual journey can almost be seen taking one slow step after another… slow, but steady, growth.  He gradually became bolder in revealing his devotion to – and possibly love for – Jesus as the Christ.

Can others see similar growth in your life?

What is one action you can take today to show you identify with Christ?

*  A sure sign of growth is a faith of increasing boldness.

You can read the story of Nicodemus in John 3:1-21; 7:50,51; 19:39-42.

THOMAS, Apostle of Jesus

Thomas is best known for having doubting tendencies, but this disciple of Jesus – named Didymus – was capable of demonstrating courage and resolve, too.

When Jesus’ friend, Lazarus, died, Jesus set out for Bethany, near Jerusalem – not to pay His last respects, but to raise Lazarus from the dead!  But, doing so meant walking directly into the enemies’ lair.  The disciples were aware of the danger.  Jesus had already alluded to His death (John 10:15), so the disciples had their ears perked for any possible threat.  They were not blind to the growing opposition of the religious leaders.  They knew Bethany was risky.  Yet, Thomas was the only one who spoke in favor of Jesus’ plan, saying if their Master was going to die, the rest of them might as well die with Him.

Thomas was the one who asked a further question after Jesus spoke of the place God is preparing for His believers.  Jesus had just said, where He would go, these – and others – could follow.  Thomas said, “But we don’t know where You are going; so, how can we know the way there?”  Jesus answered, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.”

But, most people remember Thomas’ display of doubt concerning the resurrection of Jesus.  Thomas had been away from the rest of the apostles when Jesus appeared to them 10 other apostles in the upper room.  When he arrived later – and heard the news from the apostles (his closest friends) – he refused to believe it.

The rest of the apostles were obviously excited; chattering with one another about what – Who! – they had seen.  And Thomas listened.  But, he was still unconvinced… and voiced his doubts.  And that moment of honest questioning tagged him with the label “Doubting Thomas”; not by those apostles present, but by history since.

It must have been a miserable week for Thomas… until Jesus appeared to the apostles again – this time including Thomas – in that same upper room the next Sunday night.  Jesus suddenly appeared, and looked at Thomas; not with condemnation, but love: “Stop doubting and believe”.  Whatever uncertainty there was turned to immediate and total trust: “My Lord and my God!”

It’s easy to judge Thomas harshly; he is known throughout history as “Doubting Thomas” (as though none of the other apostles – or any Christian since, for that matter – ever doubted).  But, Thomas was not condemned by Jesus… nor was his belief rejected.  Jesus used that occasion to encourage Thomas… and also to bless those from that point on who would have faith without having seen with their own eyes.

LifeAPP:

Temporary, occasional doubts are normal in the Christian life.  They can even be a good thing if they motivate us to search harder for God… and get to know Him better.  It is only when we stay in our unbelief – or are too timid to dig deeper – that we displease God.

If you are struggling with doubts today, ask God to give you a fresh look at Jesus.  And, when He does, stop doubting and believe!

Thomas would be present with the other apostles at Jesus’ ascension… and, I assume, he was with them from that second Sunday night on.  Tradition says Thomas took the gospel to other places, outside of Galilee, as far as India.  And most of his time seems to have been spent in Parthia, which included parts of modern-day Turkey, Iraq, and Iran.  He is said to have died in Edessa, in modern-day Turkey.  Tradition says the cause of his death was 4 spears thrust into him by local soldiers in Edessa.

You can read the story of Thomas in John 11:16; 14:5; 20:24-29; Acts 1:13.

JUDAS ISCARIOT, Who Betrayed Jesus

It’s always been popular to give a child a biblical name.  But how many kids do you know named “Judas”?

Judas Iscariot is considered one of the most despised people in history. He did not accuse Jesus… or condemn or try or sentence Jesus… or mock or spit on or put the scourge to the back of Jesus… he did not drive the nails in Jesus’ hands & feet.  Yet, he is considered the more evil one in the crucifixion story.  Why?

Maybe because anyone could have done any or all of those other things to Jesus.  But, only a “friend” could betray Jesus.  You have to be close… trusted… to betray.  Betrayal is a personal offense.

-  List of Apostles… Matt. 10:4; Mark 3:19; Luke 6:10

judas is always listed last, and is usually listed with the descriptor as “the one who betrayed Jesus”.

We’re not told how or when Judas was called to follow Jesus.  We can only assume it was with the same enthusiasm and intent as the others.  I doubt he began to follow Jesus with the intent of betraying Him; He would have had many opportunities before the opportunity he took.  I think he saw Jesus, believed in Him (or, at least, His cause), and followed Him like the other apostles did.

He was chosen to be treasurer of the group… evidently trusted by someone to some extent.  There must have been some positive things about Him.

-  Jesus Foretells of Judas… John 6:70,71

-  Annointing at Bethany… John 12:1-7

-  Plot with the Religious Leaders…  Matt. 26:14-16; Mark 14:10,11; Luke 22:3-6

-  With Jesus in the Upper Room… Matt. 26:20-25

-  Jesus Washes Judas’ Feet…  John 13:2-5

-  Judas Identifies Judas as Being His Betrayer…  John 13:21-30

-  Jesus’ Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane…  John 17:12

-  The Official Act of Betrayal…  Luke 22:47,48; Matt. 26:47-49; Mark 14:43-45; John 18:1-5

Why?  Was Judas greedy… and wanted the money?  If so, why did he then return it to the religious leaders who hired him?

Was it because he was an “outsider”… from Kerioth in S. Judah, and he never felt part of the group?

Was he “demon-possessed” and had no choice in the matter?

Was he disillusioned by Jesus and His teaching, and he saw himself as an enemy?

Was he disillusioned by Jesus’ actions and teaching as Messiah and, as a friend, he wanted to back Jesus into a corner, forcing Him to act… and to become the Messiah Judas thought He should be?

-  Returning the “Blood Money”…  Matt. 27:1-10

Was this an act of regret?  Remorse?  Even repentance?

He didn’t go back to the family of believers, but suffered alone… until his “grief” drive him to suicide.

-  His Death…  Acts 1:16-20 (Ps. 41:9; 69:25; 109:8)

There are more questions than answers about Judas.  Why did Jesus pick him to be an apostle, knowing what Judas would eventually do?  Why did Judas betray Jesus?  Was Judas’ sorrow after the betrayal unto repentance?  Is Judas in Heaven or Hell?

To be honest, the reason most of these questions are continually asked is because the answer lies only with God.  Only God knows…

LifeAPP:

To most people – maybe even to the other apostles – Judas appeared to be a committed follower of Jesus.  He was the treasurer of the group!  He had been given a task of importance no other apostles were not given.  So, he had to have been a believer, right?  Wring!  It is evidently possible to be very involved in Christian activity, and learn the lingo of the church, and look and act like a follower of Jesus… and still be lost.

LifeAPP:

Judas probably expected a military Messiah… a conquering King who would overthrow the Romans and set God’s people free.  Judas had seen how Jesus could impact people with His words… and miracles.  So, Judas wondered why Jesus didn’t do something?  Instead of acting forcibly, Jesus spoke of being a servant… turning the other cheek… being changed from the inside out… and taking up one’s cross.  So, maybe Judas had decided to try to force Jesus’ hand; maybe Judas was trying to back Jesus into a corner so He would have to come out swinging… with all of Heaven behind Him.

But, Jesus never deviated from His God-given mission.  And His mission was to save people from lostness.

We should be VERY cautious about trying to tell God what His agenda should be.  Rather than trying to manipulate God into doing what we want done, we should submit ourselves to His plan.

Whose agenda are you working today?

You can read the story of Judas in Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:19; Luke 6:16; John 6:70,71; 12:1-7; Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10,11; Luke 22:3-6; Matthew 26:20-25; John 13:2-5,21-30; 17:12; 18:1-5; Luke 22:47,48; Matthew 26:47-49; Mark 14:43-45; Matthew 27:1-10; Acts 1:16-20.

BARTHOLOMEW/NATHANAEL, Apostle of Jesus

Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, and is identified as Nathanael in John’s Gospel.

Bartholomew comes from the Aramaic bar-Tôlmay, meaning son of Tolmay, or son of the furrows (probably a plowman/ farmer).  Bartholomew is listed among the 12 Apostles of Jesus in the 3 Synoptic gospels: Matt. 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16.  He is mentioned as one of the witnesses of the Ascension; see Acts 1:4,12,13; each time he is named in the company of Philip.

Bartholomew has been identified with Nathanael, as presented in the Gospel of according to John 1:43-51.  Nathanael is introduced as a friend of Philip, and is introduced to Jesus by Philip.  Nathanael reappears in John 21:1,2 as one of the disciples to whom Jesus appeared at the Sea of Galilee after the Resurrection.

Tradition

Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History (5:10) states that, after the Ascension, Bartholomew went on a missionary tour to India, where he left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew.  Other traditions record him as serving as a missionary in Ethiopia, Mesopotamia,Parthia, and Lycaonia.  Popular traditions and legends say Bartholomew preached the Gospel in India, then went to Greater Armenia.

Mission to India

2 ancient testimonies exist about the mission of Saint Bartholomew in India. These are of Eusebius of Caesarea (early 4th century) and of Saint Jerome (late 4th century).  Both of these refer to this tradition while speaking of the reported visit of Pantaenus to India in the 2nd century.

His Death

Along with his fellow apostle Jude/Thaddeus, Bartholomew is reputed to have brought Christianity to Armenia in the 1st century.  Thus, both saints are considered the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

He is said to have been martyred in Albanopolis in Armenia.  According to one account, he was beheaded; but a more popular tradition holds that he was flayed alive and crucified, head downward.  He is said to have converted Polymius, the king of Armenia, to Christianity.  Astyages, Polymius’ brother, consequently ordered Bartholomew’s execution.

LifeAPP:

Bartholomew/Nathanael was skeptical of Jesus at first.  But, Jesus wasn’t deterred by his skepticism.  In fact, Jesus seems to have had a sense of humor about it.  And, eventually, Bartholomew saw Jesus for who He really is.

God is not frightened by one’s skepticism; He is a big God.

Check Him out… honestly… with all of your doubts and concerns.  If you do so… honestly, I’m pretty sure you will come away as assured as Bartholomew did.  He was so confident Jesus is who He said He is, he would eventually die for his faith… by a very gruesome death.

You can read the Biblical account of Bartholomew’s story in John 1:43-51; Matt. 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; Acts 1:4,12,13; and John 21:1,2.

THADDAEUS/JUDE/JUDAS, Apostle of Jesus

Thaddaeus/Jude/Judas (and even Lebbaeus!) was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus.

In the Roman Catholic Church, he is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes.

New Testament

Jude is clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, another apostle and the betrayer of Jesus. See Matt. 10:3; Luke 6:16; John 14:22; Acts 1:13.

Also Named Thaddaeus

To avoid any confusion, he is often called Thaddaeus. In the apostle-lists of Matt. 10:3 & Mark 3:18, Jude/Judas is omitted, but a Thaddaeus is mentioned in his place. “Thaddaeus” may have been his nickname; again, to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot.

LifeAPP:

Imagine being known throughout history, but not really known. In fact, by our time, no one can really be sure what his actual name was! And, there was no problem with the name… until it is associated with someone whose name will go down in history by leaving a bad taste in peoples’ mouths.

What is the importance of a name?

What do people associate YOUR name with?

You may not be famous… either today or sometime in the future. But, God knows who you are!

Tradition & Legend

Tradition says Jude preached the gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, & Libya. He is also said to have visited Beirut & Edessa.

In all probability, he spoke both Greek & Aramaic, like most of his contemporaries. It is thought he was a farmer by trade.

According to legend, Jude was a son of Cleopas & his wife, Mary, a cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Tradition says Jude’s father, Cleopas, was martyred because of his forthright and outspoken devotion to the risen Christ. After all, Cleopas had spent Resurrection afternoon with Jesus!

Death & Remains

According to tradition, Jude suffered martyrdom by beheading about 65AD in Beirut, in the Roman province of Syria, together with the apostle Simon the zealot, with whom he is usually connected. The ax he is often shown holding in symbolic art is believed to have been the tool of his death.

Sometime after his death, Jude’s body was brought from Beirut to Rome and placed in a crypt in St. Peter’s Basilica.

You can read Jude’s few mentions (usually just in the context of the listings of the apostles) in Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:16; John 14:22; & Acts 1:13.

MATTHEW, Tax-Collector-turned-Apostle

Matthew the Apostle was 1 of the 12 Apostles of Jesus, and 1 of the 4 Gospel writers.

- Called to Be an Apostle… Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32

Among the early followers and disciples of Jesus, Matthew is mentioned as a former tax-collector from Capernaum who was called into The Twelve by Jesus. He is sometimes called Levi; he was a son of Alpheus.

Matthew was a first-century Galilean. During the Roman occupation, Matthew collected taxes from the Hebrew people for Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Galilee. His tax office was located in Capernaum. Jews who became rich by collecting taxes were despised and were considered traitors… treated as outcasts. But, as a tax-collector, he would have surely been literate in Aramaic & Greek.

It was in this setting that Jesus called Matthew to be 1 of the 12 Apostles. Few would have approached Matthew’s tax booth willingly, but Jesus did.

LifeAPP:

It might seem strange to some that Matthew would leave behind such a wealthy career to wander the countryside with a traveling preacher. But, Jesus may have been the only one to have ever offered Matthew an invitation of any kind! He may have been the first to look into Matthew’s eyes and see someone beyond who he was at the moment.

After his call, Matthew invited Jesus home for a feast. On seeing this, the Scribes & Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating with tax-collectors and sinners. This prompted Jesus to answer, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”.

LifeAPP:

Matthew turned the invitation given to him into an invitation offered to others.

He simply threw a party, and invited his buddies. He didn’t invite them into a religious setting, where they might have felt uncomfortable… and maybe even unwelcome. He brought the Good News into their world! They had been turned off – or rejected – by religion, but they were attracted to – and intrigued with – Jesus.

Before you worry about reaching total strangers with the gospel, think about your non-Christian friends, neighbors, and co-workers. God has put these people in your life – and you in theirs – for a reason.

And, by the way, if you don’t have any unsaved friends, neighbors, or co-workers, you need to get out more! Don’t isolate yourself rom those you are supposed to be reaching!!

LifeAPP:

As you consider this gathering, do you put yourself inside the house with Matthew… or on the outside with his accusers?

In God’s eyes, we are ALL like those inside the house… and He loves us anyway!

- Listed as an Apostle… Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-19

As a disciple, Matthew followed Jesus. He was one of the witnesses of the Resurrection, and the Ascension.

Afterwards, the disciples withdrew to an upper room (Acts 1:10-14) in Jerusalem. The disciples remained in and around Jerusalem, and proclaimed that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

Later, church fathers such as Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria claimed Matthew preached the gospel to the Jewish community in Judea, before going to other countries. Tradition says Matthew died a martyr.

Matthew’s Gospel

The Gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew the Apostle. His Gospel was written for primarily a Jewish audience first… for the very people who once hated him.

You can read Matthew’s story in the book of Matthew, but also interspersed throughout the other 3 Gospels (Mark, Luke & John).