In history, the ones who recorded events and dates and wrote the stories altogether were mostly people who were hired to write about it. They were employed by generals, kings, queens -powerful people. Of course, hiring a scribe to write your history comes with a special perk. You can SUGGEST things. You can suggest that they downplay your defeats and shameful moments or erase it altogether. You can also suggest to exaggerate and heroize specific moments of triumph and greatness.
Let’s look at Jesus’ history as written by Matthew.
Genealogy of Jesus – Only the book of Matthew started with a genealogy
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
– Matthew 1:1-6
It includes 4 very unpopular women:
Rahab the harlot, Ruth the moabite, Tamar the daughter-in-law of Judah who deceived him and the mother of Solomon who had been Uriah’s wife.
Now why did Matthew had to write about them? Wouldn’t you be writing all the good stuff when you want someone to look good? I mean, this is the Savior and Messiah Jesus Christ we’re talking about!
Two categories of unclean people:
“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples.” – Matthew 9:10
“Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him.” – Luke 15:1
“When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” – Matthew 9:11
Sinners and Tax collectors – that’s how bad tax collectors were. They had their own category. They were considered traitors to their own nation because they were collecting tax for Rome. And as long as the Romans were happy with the tax, they can add any amount of surcharge they wanted for their tax collecting.
Tax collectors know the extent of their ‘sinfulness’ in people’s eyes.
Matthew was a tax collector
“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. “ – Matthew 9:9
Matthew was doing what? Praying in the Temple? No, he was COLLECTING TAXES. Jesus found him in his sin.
And yet, what did Jesus say? “Repent you… tax collector?” No. Jesus looked him in the eye, smiled kindly at him perhaps and told him two simple words: “Follow me.” Without any second thought, Matthew got up and followed him.
Matthew did not deserve to be even in the presence of God and yet God went to him, looked him in the eye and told him point blank ‘Follow me’ – ALL WHILE HE WAS IN HIS TAX COLLECTOR’S BOOTH
Ever had that experience? When God approached you in your tax collector’s booth, undeserving, and asked you to follow Him? Maybe you didn’t see God in the flesh asking you to follow Him. But He has. Someway, somehow He told it to you in a different light – that’s why you’re here. And that, for Matthew is what Christmas is all about.
Being called to follow Him, undeserving as we are. We will never be good enough but His grace covers all that up.
Just a disclaimer, for those who didn’t know: I’m not a tax collector. I’m not with the BIR.
Being called, undeserving, to follow Him. Christmas is the story of grace. It’s the story of sinners, of tax collectors, of redemption, of sacrifice and love. Christmas is the story of God in its best. This is why we needed Christmas. We need a story that can help us remember God and what He did in this Earth 2,000 years ago for you, for me, for tax collectors and sinners. For guys like Matthew and girls like Rahab and mothers like Bathsheba.
Christians still need Christmas. “And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” – 1 Corinthians 11:24
“In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” – 1 Corinthians 11:25
Remember Christ. Because you and I are the likes of Matthew. We are called, undeserving as we are, to follow Him.