There’s a bit more to Matthew’s story though. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that there’s a bit more of Matthew in the wonderful story he’s have us to know about Jesus.
At the center of Matthew’s story of the Messiah is his own story that reflects what lies at the heart of Jesus’ kingdom (Matthew 9:9-12). Matthew places the story being called by Jesus in a narrative section that begins and ends with miracles that demonstrate Jesus’ authority and compassion (in Matthew these two are inextricably bound together so that Jesus has both compassionate authority and the authority of compassion). It is by this combination of authority and compassion that Matthew is called.
His calling is objected to by the Pharisees on the grounds that their understanding of God called for separation from sinners, not fellowship with them. Christ responds by reminding them that He is only doing what doctors do (hang around sick people) and that they should go home and re-read the prophets to learn what Hosea 6:6 means when it says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
By placing his story in this context, Matthew shows his acute awareness of his status with not only the Pharisees, but of greater importance, with Jesus. Rejected by the religious establishment, he was nonetheless chosen by the Messiah. A sinful tax collector, he was nonetheless called and claimed by the Christ! He was the undeserving recipient of the Messiah’s mercy. This pulsating compassion is what characterizes the Messiah’s kingdom and Matthew is Exhibit A. No wonder he invites Jesus to his house and has all of his friends over to celebrate!
This same truth is told in the parable of the two sons in 21:28-32. In another context laden with miracles demonstrating His Messiahship (entry into Jerusalem (king), cleansing of temple (priest), cursing of fig tree and refuting leaders (prophet)), Jesus tells a thinly veiled story of two brothers. The brother who promises to work for His Father and then doesn’t represents the Pharisees and their empty claims. The brother who refused to work and then repented (metanoia in both v. 29 and v. 32), represents Matthew and others. Matthew was outside but the kindness of God (see Romans 2:4), leads him to repentance and a place inside the kingdom of Jesus.
That’s Matthew story and he has to tell it. (I hope you know the feeling!).