Day 5 of the Waiting Room & Day 45 of the Omer
The Messiah picked His “Disciples by the Dozen”, and the Twelve became Apostles [minus Judas], after the Holy Spirit came upon them, as Yeshua prophesied! This happened on Shavuot [the Feast of Weeks], also known from the Greek as “Pentecost” [meaning 50 Days].
Imagine what the Disciples felt after their Messiah was seemingly dead, and what they probably thought was going to be their fatal ending too, as His followers. Let’s look at the “Surrounding Circle”, since Day 1 of the “WAITING ROOM” we examined the “Inner Circle” of Simon Peter [Shim’on Kefa], James [Ya’akov] and John [Yochanan], and Days 2-4, the “Supporting Circle”, with Andrew [Simon Peter’s brother], Philip [Friend of Bartholomew]; and Nathanael Bartholomew [Natan’El, Bar-Talemei]. Now we will see the third concentric circle around Yeshua.
The Surrounding Circle:
7. Matthew [Matityahu] or Levi [HaLevi – “The Levite”] – Tax Collector; Publican
8. Judas [Yehudah] the Zealot – Labbaeus or Thaddeus
9. Simon [Shim’on] the Cananite [Kanani] – Simeon the Zealot
Matthew, also referred to as Levi, is mentioned in each of the four lists of the apostles. However, very little is said about him in the “gospels”. In fact, the only picture we have of him is given in one incident recorded in Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 2:14-17, and Luke 5:27-32. In his own list of the twelve, Matthew refers to himself in the third person, writing only “Matthew, the publican.” Notice that no other disciple in the list is associated with his job. Why then does Matthew make reference to himself as a tax collector? Was it something to be proud of? No! A publican was the most hated, despised, despicable human being in the society of Israel. Publicans were Jews who held a franchise from the Roman government authorizing them to collect taxes. They would collect the tax from the “Jews” [meaning “Judeans”: citizens of Judah/Judea] and give it to the Romans. The Roman government would stipulate a certain amount, and the publican was free to keep anything that he collected above that amount. This led to many abuses of the system. Publicans were considered by their fellow Jews to be traitors, extortioners and thieves. The public perception of publicans was very negative, see Matthew 5:46-47; 11:19; 18:17; 21:31-32; Luke 3:12; 15:1; 18:10-14; 19:2. For Matthew to identify himself as a publican was his way of admitting what an unworthy, sinful man he was before he met Yeshua.
As an apostle, Matthew wrote ‘his gospel” in the early period of the Messianic Movement of the first century, probably around 50 AD. This was a time when most believers were Jewish converts, so Matthew’s focus was a Jewish perspective, to Jewish People primarily.
Matthew is honored to write one of the most read gospels, the “Gospel of Matthew”, where he intends to prove to his “Jewish Community” that Yeshua is the promised Messiah. More than any other gospel, Matthew quotes the most prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures [TaNaKh], to show how Yeshua fulfilled the words of the Prophets of Israel. Matthew describes in detail the lineage of Yeshua from King David, and uses many forms of speech that “Jews” would have been comfortable with. Matthew’s love and concern for his people is apparent through his meticulous approach to telling the gospel story, inspite of Israeli Perspective about tax-collectors, or publicans. They were viewed with the opposite thought of that of “Robin Hood”, who stole from the rich, and gave to the poor. These occupations were thought to be robbing the poor [in taxes], and giving it to the rich, which was Rome [Roman Empire].
Matthew would have been the accountant, and silent thinker of the “upper room” living quarters.
Here are 6 characteristics needed to be a great critical thinker:
1. Curiosity. Allow yourself to be curious. Great critical thinkers tune into their desire to continue learning and understanding how things work. Be inquisitive about anything and ask questions others may have but don’t ask.
2. Humility. Great critical thinkers understand that their ideas may not be the best and that they do not know everything. I once had a fortune cookie that told me, “knowledge comes from being humble” – that once you accept that you don’t know everything you’re more likely to continue your search for answers.
3. Ability to research. Don’t have an answer? Aren’t satisfied with an answer? Does something sound a little off? The ability to research things and bring in multiple resources will unveil a lot.
4. Active Listening. Don’t just hear what others have to say, engage in conversation.
5. Objectivity. Great critical thinkers have the ability to remain objective. They understand the goal, stay focused and don’t let their emotions (or others’) cloud their judgment.
6. Creativity. Allow yourself to be creative. Brainstorming without judgment can spark amazing ideas. Thinking outside the box may create a solution. Sometimes denying ourselves this freedom holds us back more than we’d like to think.
Matthew probably used these characteristics to balance the remnant of disciples in the “upper room” prayer and devotional time, before walking [shlepping] over to the Temple [Beit HaMikdash], and in the preparation and writing of “his gospel” years later [15-20 yrs possibly].
We as Messianic Believers should use these 6 characteristics, as great critical thinkers, to study, research and prepare before we communicate a clear “gospel” of the “Good News” that Yeshua is the Promised Messiah! Amen!