Monday, February 7, 2011

Lesson 5: Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas

Read John 1:45-51; Luke 5:27-28; John 20:24-29

Video blog (by Mike)



Trump To Trumpet (by Richard)

Hindi is the most common language, that is, the unifying language of India. Indians speak hundreds of dialects that are specific to their geographic and cultural region but educated Indians also speak Hindi, enabling them to trade and travel at will without a language barrier. Greek was the equivalent language of Jesus' time, a lingering effect of the former Greek empire.

Speaking Greek granted Matthew access to the educated Romans and speaking Hebrew, his native tongue, resulted in access to the Jews of Capernaum. He leveraged his linguistic prowess by choosing to help the Roman government collect taxes from his own countrymen. Matthew would not have been an employee, he was a contractor working for a percentage of the taxes he collected. If he didn't collect taxes, he didn't eat, that is, his position was 100% commission-based. Most of us shy away from these jobs because of the need for predictable income; this makes sense because our bills are generally predictable.

If you imagine a position today that has no base salary, requires you to be multi-lingual and requires you to be a very strong negotiator on your own behalf, then you are seeing Matthew's vocation. I imagine Matthew today as a customs agent working in import/export, subject to the same kinds of temptations and benefits. It's important to see that he was likely clever, money-motivated and despised. Why?

There is a stark contrast between Matthew before and after his first encounter with Jesus. Unlike the rich, young ruler who was unable to walk away from lifestyle, Matthew immediately turns to follow Jesus. Keep in mind that most men have their productivity and self-esteem so intertwined that they cannot separate them; Matthew would have been even more like this to choose such a production-oriented profession and to choose it despite the fact that it resulted in being despised by his own neighbors. This further illustrates the dramatic change Matthew embraces when Jesus calls him.

Matthew risks his professional and personal reputations by inviting both fellow tax collectors and sinners to a feast to share in his new discovery, Jesus. In effect, he is burning bridges to his profession by including the publicans and flying in the face of those who despise him by inviting those they most despise.

Once again, we see the theme repeated from our study of Peter, James and John: Our greatest weakness may also be our greatest strength. How? Matthew is a man totally engrossed in his profession (tunnel vision) and willing to take great risks for great rewards (entrepreneurial) no matter what anyone around him thinks (independent). If we flip these Trump traits over and look at their manifestations after Matthew meets Jesus, we see this:
  • A man who turns his tunnel vision on Jesus by instantly becoming a disciple or follower

  • A man who takes great risks by following Jesus and leaving his old life behind

  • A man who thinks independently, inviting his professional friends and "sinners" to hear Jesus despite public opinion
Once again we witness great strength exhibited in weakness if we look deeply enough. In fact, this theme recurs in our study of Men Jesus Called. Would you wear Jesus' lens and begin to think of traits you do not like in your family, friends or co-workers as desirable traits turned upside down? Wouldn't this view circumvent judging social outcasts like Matthew in favor of their potential in Christ to be a brother like Matthew? Meeting Jesus is the key, but aren't you more likely to love a neighbor like Matthew if you value them properly? Take the trait you least admire in one other person and imagine that person following Jesus using the flip side of that trait. What is the trait and what is its flip side?

Study Questions

Feel free to answer any or all questions in the comment section below for interaction with fellow participants~Thx

1. Have you ever written somebody off after you found out about their past or place of upbringing?

2. Jesus “saw” Bartholomew prior to their meeting (John 1:48). Would you make any changes in your behavior if you knew Christ was watching?

3. The Bible says Matthew “left everything behind” to follow Christ (Luke 5:28). What do you think it means to “leave everything behind”?

4. Thomas needs to see Jesus alive to believe it (John 20:25). Are you the kind of person that would have believed without seeing? Why or why not?

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2 Comments:

At February 9, 2011 at 8:28 AM , Blogger Colleen Foshee said...

God is giving you guys some really good stuff here!
1. Have you ever written somebody off after you found out about their past or place of upbringing? No, but the thought does come occasionally. Then the Holy Spirit whispers ...ahem.. and I realize that thought needs to be stopped in it's tracks. With every person I meet, the truth is - there but for the grace of God go I.

2. Jesus “saw” Bartholomew prior to their meeting (John 1:48). Would you make any changes in your behavior if you knew Christ was watching? Yes, but not because of the evil eye mentality many believers have. I don't think that's the posture Jesus wants us to take. It's law rather than grace. Instead, I believe Jesus wants to help us see what He sees in us, so we can become our true new creation selves and live that out.

3. The Bible says Matthew “left everything behind” to follow Christ (Luke 5:28). What do you think it means to “leave everything behind”?

Be willing to whatever God asks.

4. Thomas needs to see Jesus alive to believe it (John 20:25). Are you the kind of person that would have believed without seeing? Why or why not?

I really didn't witness any signs or wonders (that I remember) before I believed. Somehow the gospel just made sense to me. Once I believed (at 7), lots of confirmations followed - and still do.

 
At February 12, 2011 at 4:24 PM , Blogger Marie said...

1. Have you ever written somebody off after you found out about their past or place of upbringing? -

No, to many people do that -not just with their "past" but also with their current situation. Many people and unfortunately Christians are so judgmental of where people live, what they drive or don't drive etc etc. We should be like Christ and LOVE people right where they are. Matthew was engaged in his job of scheming money and taking what he wanted when Jesus called him. Jesus showed us right then to love people right where they are.


2. Jesus “saw” Bartholomew prior to their meeting (John 1:48). Would you make any changes in your behavior if you knew Christ was watching?

Isn't HE always with us, so doesn't HE always see?

3. The Bible says Matthew “left everything behind” to follow Christ (Luke 5:28). What do you think it means to “leave everything behind”?

He was willing to do whatever Jesus wanted, even if it required leaving the comforts of home, the security of a job and the ease of familiarity. He trusted enough to step out into the unknown.


4. Thomas needs to see Jesus alive to believe it (John 20:25). Are you the kind of person that would have believed without seeing? Why or why not?

It's difficult to have the child like faith that is required. Many times I find myself saying...why do I ever doubt...why. I'd like to think I'd believe - but I do wonder if the others had not seen it if they would have believed it. They all show signs of doubt along the way.


Excellent study as always. I love the feast that Matthew had for the Lord...shows gratitude as well as determination -that no matter how hard the journey, no matter what others thought - he was willing to be used.

@spreadingJOY

 

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