It’s important to understand that the grace of God doesn’t simply invite us to follow… it teaches us to follow. Just because Matthew left his past behind and started following didn’t mean he was perfect. Far from it. Even after we decide to follow Jesus, we continue to need his grace for the journey.
– Idleman, Kyle; Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus; Zondervan; copyright 2011; Grand Rapids, MI; Kindle Edition; page 124
When Jesus invited Matthew to follow, he was making it clear that this is an invitation extended not solely to the religious elite, the morally upright, and those who have their lives together. But it is an invitation to all of us who are hiding some stains. Jesus throws out the elitist application process and gives an open invitation.
– Idleman, Kyle; Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus; Zondervan; copyright 2011; Grand Rapids, MI; Kindle Edition; page 122
How do we know we have independent eyewitness testimony? Because 1) each major author includes early and unique material that only eyewitnesses would know, and 2) their accounts describe the same basic events but include divergent details. Why are divergent details important? Because if the accounts were all from one source or a single editor, there would be harmonization, not divergence of details. When early accounts tell the same basic story but include divergent details, historians rightly conclude they have independent eyewitness accounts of actual historical events. The story certainly cannot be made up, because independent sources could never invent the same fictional story.
By these criteria, we know that John and Mark are independent, and we know that Luke and Matthew differ enough from Mark and from one another to be the products of independent attestation as well. So there are at least four independent sources for the basic New Testament story and, adding Paul (I Corinthians 15:8) and Peter (I Peter 1:21) to the mix, there are at least six independent sources for the Resurrection.
– Geisler, Norm and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, copyright 2004, page 272-273
Relief comes from rigorous honesty with ourselves. It is interesting that whenever the evangelists Mark, Luke, or John mention the apostles they call the author of the first gospel either Levi or Matthew. But in his own gospel, he always refers to himself as ‘Matthew the publican,’ never wanting to forget who he was and always wanting to remember how low Jesus stooped to pick Him up.
– Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, copyright 1990, 2000, page 138
Our experience of God’s unconditional love must be shaped by the Scriptures. God’s written Word must take hold of us as His spoken Word took hold of Isaiah and Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Hosea; as the spoken Word of Christ mesmerized Matthew and Mary Magdalene, and captivated Simon Peter and the Samaritan woman.
– Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, copyright 1990, 2000, page 44-45