Apostle Matthew the Publican and Apostle Thomas the Doubter video audio notes Luke 6:12-16

Apostle Matthew the Publican and Apostle Thomas the Doubter. Matthew, also called Levi, was a tax collector when called by Jesus. Tax collectors (KJV – publicans) were hated and despised by everyone, not only Jews. You would have hated them too. The reason is they were dishonest and mean people. What is the first word you think when you hear the name “Thomas”? Doubt, right? People say, “You’re a doubting Thomas.” That comes from Thomas the apostle. We see once more how Jesus will call even someone full of doubt and use that person to help change the world.


by Delbert Young

Apostle Matthew the Publican and Apostle Thomas the Doubter (Luke 6:12-16)

Sermon video


Apostle Matthew the Publican and Apostle Thomas the Doubter – Luke 6:12-16

Scriptures: Luke 6:12-16; Matthew 9:9; Luke 5:27-28; Luke 5:29; Matthew 9:11; Matthew 9:12-13; John 11:16; John 14:4-5; John 20:24-25; John 20:26; John 20:27; John 20:28; Luke 22:29-30

It would have been a fair assumption when Jesus came he would select the most highly trained, most influential, and most Old Testament knowledgeable men to be his apostles. Jesus chose none from those categories – no religiously trained, no theologians, none from the Jerusalem or Judah area. The men Jesus selected were common, even sub-common, people – fishermen, a tax collector (publican), a terrorist, a traitor, etc. If Jesus came today rather than then, I wonder who he would select. Can you imagine? I’m certain it would not be who you would think. How would you handle his selection for world changers? I’m certain the media would have a lot of fun with it. Religion would say that proves he’s demonic, but you, would you applaud his selection, or question it? I suspect most would have serious issues and because of his selection of those type people, have issues accepting Jesus as the Son of God.

Luke 6:12-16 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, MATTHEW, THOMAS, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

We are taking some time to study this elite group of men. I was thinking not long ago how I have never done a teaching on the apostles exactly like this. I’ve never focused on learning about them. On the flip side, I suspect you’ve never heard teachings on the apostles like this either. That’s sad for as we’ve seen it’s because of their labors, we and our children will avoid hell, the church exists, and we have the New Testament. They truly are a very elite group of men.

Today we will talk about Matthew and Thomas. We’ve already studied Matthew’s conversion and calling by Jesus in chapter 5, so we will only hit a few main points. Matthew is a common name today because of the Matthew of the Bible; at least that’s where the name gets its origin. What’s most interesting about Matthew is how far away he was from God when called compared to where he came.

Matthew, also called Levi, was a tax collector when called by Jesus. Tax collectors (KJV – publicans) were hated and despised by everyone, not only Jews. You would have hated them too. The reason is they were dishonest and mean people. They were labeled the low-life scum of humanity. Perhaps today think of a molester, or a man who physically and mentally abuses his wife and children, or a rapist. Then put the tax collector beneath them. They were the lowest of the low. They were seen as, and were, traitors to the Jews and to their own families as they worked for Rome taking taxes and take they did. They demanded more than required and were mafia-like extortionists. If you didn’t pay, soldiers took you to prison or worse. They could stop anyone anywhere to search their person or their baggage. They were marked unclean by religion. Anyone associating with them was considered defiled. They could never attend synagogue or enter the temple to sacrifice. They were disqualified from the Jewish court system to witness or bring litigations. Tax collectors were considered unforgivable by God, rejected, abandoned, and doomed to hell. How could Matthew Levi possibly be selected an apostle of Jesus Christ? He was the most despised and hated man in the city and knew that’s what people thought and religion taught about him. Yet we read,

Matthew 9:9 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.

Luke 5:27-28 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of LEVI sitting at his tax booth. “FOLLOW ME,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, LEFT EVERYTHING and followed him.

It’s the same account of the calling of the same man. Luke used Levi in Luke 5, but used Matthew in Luke 6:15 when naming the apostles. Levi was his old life of extortion and tax collection and greed. Matthew was his new life in Jesus.

In Matthew Levi we see how Jesus called the most hated man in town, the one considered the furthest from God, the one “doomed for hell” by religion, saved him, and used him. No matter how low or far from God you feel you are, Jesus can and will save and use you.

Jesus expected Matthew Levi to leave everything. That’s the emphasis of Luke 5:28. Matthew Levi seems to have been the only apostle called with any financial means, but he left everything including a very lucrative enterprise and life style to follow Jesus. Matthew left everything. Sometimes that’s the way a call works. Jesus expected a complete life change from Levi. Matthew gave it to him. It was that way for me, but not that massive for most. Judy and I left everything. It was a complete life change. There’s always something Jesus expects us to leave so we can follow him. What was it in your life? Or, perhaps Jesus is dealing with you right now concerning something. Let this be a confirmation. You will be blessed when you follow him.

Luke 5:29 Then Levi held A GREAT BANQUET FOR JESUS at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.

Another thing we learn is Matthew Levi used his influence to get others around Jesus. The banquet was expensive. Matthew used his resources including his house to bring people to meet Jesus. Do we do that? Do we funnel any of our resources in a direction to bring people to Jesus? When we taught this from Luke 5, I shared with you a few stories about investing some of my resources into doing that. I’ve invested personal money, time, and gave away books, tapes, CDs, etc. I’ve never done it and not seen results. What have you done recently to get people you know around Jesus?

I want to make one more point about Matthew Levi. Jesus calling him tremendously upset religious people.

Matthew 9:11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher EAT WITH TAX COLLECTORS AND ‘SINNERS’?”

In the eyes of their religion, Jesus defiled himself associating with those people. Selecting Levi was off the hook. To them there was no way the Messiah would associate with those people much less making one a leader in the church. Do what? Make a partying publican a leader? If I did that would you have more trouble with Matthew Levi or with me? Here’s what Jesus said.

Matthew 9:12-13 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus told the experts “go and learn what this means.” What an insult, but it’s the same today. Here’s the deal: Jesus and his church are not for people who believe they are righteous. It’s for people who know they are not. Church is for sin sick sinners. Church is not a club for the righteous. It’s a hospital for the sin sick. When we pass a church, we should be able to say, “There’s a bunch of sinners.” Jesus upset religious people by calling Matthew. Who does he upset by calling you? Jesus doesn’t care who he upsets. He does care about you.

Around thirty years after the ascension of Christ, Matthew wrote his Gospel according to Matthew – the first book in the New Testament. His gospel is more scriptural based than any other gospel. What I mean is Matthew references or quotes the Old Testament ninety-nine times. That’s more than the other three gospels combined. God transformed Matthew from a tax collector to a man of the Word of God. The Old Testament was written to tell of Christ’s coming. Matthew proved Jesus is the Messiah from the Word of God.

According to Wikipedia, Matthew preached the gospel to the Ethiopians in Egypt, Macedonians, Persians, and Parthians.  Matthew died as a martyr refusing to stop preaching Jesus or recant his faith. According to Bible.org “Matthew was put to death at Naddabar in Ethiopia with a halberd (a pick fitted with an axe head).”  Matthew truly left everything and followed Jesus. Faced with death what would you do? You were about to be hacked and picked to death. Do you deny Jesus?

Let’s talk about Thomas. What is the first word you think when you hear the name “Thomas”? Doubt, right? People say, “You’re a doubting Thomas.” That comes from Thomas the apostle. We see once more how Jesus will call even someone full of doubt and use that person to help change the world. Some of you are like “Thomas.”

Thomas was a negative person and negative people are downers to be around. Someone said, “A negative person will find the manure in the meadow.” They find something wrong in the most wonderful things. They proclaim Murphy’s Law – whatever can go wrong will go wrong. They are pessimist and cynics. They anticipate and expect the worst all the time. That’s Thomas.

John 11:16 Then said THOMAS, WHICH IS CALLED DIDYMUS, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

See what I mean? “Let’s go die.” Thomas also had a second name – Didymus. This is the story about Lazarus’ death and Jesus raising him from death. Jesus knew the Jews wanted to kill him. Only days earlier they attempted to do just that (Joh 10:39), so he was avoiding the Jerusalem area until it was his time. Jesus knew Lazarus had died and was about to go raise Lazarus from the dead (Joh 11:11), but the disciples basically said, “We can’t go back there. They just tried to stone you. They will kill all of us!” The disciples didn’t want to go. This is when Thomas Didymus said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (Jesus). You don’t get any more pessimistic than that. An optimist would say, “Let’s go. It’ll work out,” but Thomas said, “He’s going to die and we’re going to die too. So, let’s have the courage to go and die.” Thomas saw disaster, but at least he determined to face it and die. Thomas was no coward. He was finding the manure in the meadow, but he was doing it with bravery. There was no hope in what he said, but at the same time it was bold and brave. He had hopeless courage, which is an oxymoron, but describes Thomas Didymus.

Didymus is Didumos {did’-oo-mos} meaning “two fold or twain.” Some interpret this as “twin” and teach Thomas had a twin, but it doesn’t say “Thomas, who had a Didymus.” I think it’s the same thing we’ve seen with Simon Peter and James and John the sons of thunder. I think Thomas perhaps had two sides – a faith side and a doubting side. I think it was a labeling of Thomas’ personality. Do you ever find that about yourself? Sometimes you’re a man or woman of faith and belief, but sometimes… there’s the manure. You find manure when you should find faith. You want to do it, but it’s going to kill you to do it.

It’s easy for an optimist to have faith and hope. It’s nearly impossible for a pessimist to see anything other than the manure in the meadow. However, we learn some great things about Thomas Didymus from this. We learn he loved Jesus. Thomas didn’t want to live without Jesus. “If he’s going to die, I want to die too.” Would you have done that? Jesus had just been in Jerusalem where the Pharisees and PhD’s attempted to kill him. The disciples observed that roll out. It was a frightening experience. They knew the danger and didn’t want to go, but Thomas said, “Guys, suck it up. Let’s go and die.” It worked. They said ok, let’s go. They did go and they watched Jesus raise a man dead four days to life. I believe their observing that miracle set them up to become a martyr for Jesus in their years to come (Joh 11:15).

A few days later it’s the Lord’s Supper (Last Passover Supper). Jesus told them he was about to leave and prepare a place for them. Jesus said,

John 14:4-5 You know the way to the place where I am going.” THOMAS SAID to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Thomas said, “What! We don’t know where you’re going? You’re leaving and we don’t know where you’re going or how to get there! You can’t leave. If you leave we will never find you.” Thomas loved his Christ and didn’t want him to leave. Thomas would die with Jesus, but didn’t want to live without Jesus. “Let me die, just don’t leave me.” You can hear the heart of Thomas which sets up and gives great insight to the next scene about Thomas. Jesus did die. Thomas didn’t. Jesus left. Thomas stayed.

Jesus arose from the dead, but none of the disciples had seen him, only the women at the tomb. The disciples got together, but for whatever reason, Thomas wasn’t there. He’s focusing on the manure, not the meadow. He saw the worst of everything and this was the worst of the worst. Jesus was dead and Thomas was certain he would never see him again or find the way to Jesus. Thomas was deeply depressed and did not want to socialize. “Just leave me alone.” We can all identify with that. He didn’t want to eat, or fellowship, or be around anyone. Thomas’ world ended. Jesus showed up and guess who wasn’t there.

John 20:24-25 Now THOMAS (CALLED DIDYMUS), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

Thomas was so depressed and at such a focused negative point he would not believe his friends – 10 of them. There was just too much manure.

John 20:26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and THOMAS WAS WITH THEM. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

When someone walks through the walls, it better be Jesus and he needs to say, “It’s me. Calm down.” As soon as he said that Jesus looked straight at Thomas.

John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Jesus didn’t rebuke Thomas for his doubt. It’s more like “I understand this is how you’re wired Thomas Didymus, but you need to stop doubting and believe.”

John 20:28 Thomas said to him, “MY LORD AND MY GOD!”

Thomas believed and was perhaps the only Apostle who went outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel. He is also believed to have crossed the largest area, which includes the Parthian Empire [Iraq and Iran] and India.  There is a Bar Thomas – son of Thomas – church in India today who says they began from Thomas the apostle. Thomas died as a martyr speared to death.  There was no doubt in Thomas then. He did find the way to the place Jesus prepared for him. What place is that? Thomas now has his throne. Jesus speaking to the apostles said,

Luke 22:29-30 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

That’s a pretty good place. We see the amazing things God did with a reprobate tax collector and a pessimist looking for the manure in the meadow doubter. Jesus took this sub-common elite group of men and put them on thrones. Certainly he can do something with me.

Many today are like Thomas Didymus. We all have some Thomas Didymus in us. We should be focused on the meadow, but instead we find the manure. God wants us to see the good and beauty in the world and in people. Instead, we too frequently find the manure. In every situation there’s hope. How many would say, “I need to get my mind out of the manure and work to find the best in people”?

Do you relate to Matthew Levi? Sometimes what people and religion have said about you and feel toward you bother you. Maybe you even feel you’ve messed up so badly even God can’t help you. That’s simply not true. Jesus will come to you just as he came to Matthew Levi. He will call you, save you, and use you.

Other Related Sermons:

Think Different sermon video

Jairus A Hero Father sermon video

How Low will Jesus Go for Sinners sermon video audio notes Luke 5:27-33

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young