Matthew the Money-getter

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Ralph Zehr

By Ralph Zehr, Associate Trustee, Waverly, New York, United States

As every holiday season approaches, I am grateful to have received a gift that keeps giving, the teachings of The Urantia Book. Giving this gift to others around the world comes with a cost, and I find myself contemplating an individual who did much to fund the cost of Jesus’ public ministry: his seventh apostle, Matthew Levi.

Jesus, accompanied by his first six apostles, first met Matthew, a customs collector, at the customs office in Capernaum. Looking into Matthew’s face, Jesus said, “Follow me.”  Matthew, who Andrew had chosen, responded immediately to the Master’s call. In subsequent years, Matthew always liked to speak of the kingdom as “this business of finding God.” He seemed early-on to grasp that "when men search for God, they are searching for everything. When they find God, they have found everything."

After becoming an apostle, Matthew had an uphill struggle. Because he was a customs collector and came from a family of businessmen and tax collectors, he was regarded by fellow Jews as a "publican and sinner.” But his time with the Master would prove that he was up to the task of overcoming the intolerances and biases toward him. His fellow apostles affectionately called him the “money-getter.” He was the apostolic fundraiser. What the other apostles never knew was that frequently the money he “raised” came from his own pocket. There were times "when evidence of disdain of the publican would become manifest, Levi would burn to reveal to them his generosity, but always he managed to keep still.” “He did all his financial work in a quiet and personal way and raised most of the money among the more substantial class of interested believers. He gave practically the whole of his modest fortune to the work of the Master and his apostles…and…when he went forth to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom after the beginning of the persecutions, he was practically penniless.”

Matthew always remained overwhelmingly grateful that the Master and the apostles accepted him, a former publican, into their group, and he expressed his gratitude through wholehearted devotion and heartfelt generosity to the cause. His dedication must have been genuine as well as infectious since both his wife and eldest daughter were close followers of Jesus, while he was donating their inheritance to the apostolic cause. His wife was a member of the women's corps, which was organized for the Pella mission, and Ruth was one of the ten women selected and commissioned by Jesus to teach the gospel and minister to the sick along with the seventy evangelists.

Like Matthew, you and I are privileged to have an epochal revelation during its early stage. The invitation-command to follow the Master is no less compelling today than in Matthew’s time. In many ways the fifth epochal revelation is far more comprehensive, replete, and accessible than was the fourth. Certainly the concept of “ever ascending citizenship in the eternal universe” is far more a reality for us than Matthew could have imagined. We have been given an extensive, detailed description of the ascension career that we can read and reread many times over a lifetime.

Having found The Urantia Book in 1967, while serving as a medical missionary in the rain forests of Ghana, I have reflected many times on Jesus’ parable of the treasure hidden in a field as being remarkably symbolic of my experience of discovering the book. No price to acquire the field in which the treasure is buried can be too high; there seems to be no limit to the gems of mentation to be found, and every genuine attempt to dig deeper is rewarded beyond measure.

In view of the above, let me ask you: Where else can you participate in a project that is global in scope and will penetrate to the very spiritual core of every human being? Do you know of any other investment opportunity that will continue to yield returns for the next millennium? Is there another project where one can partner with the Supreme Sovereign of ten million inhabitable worlds? Have you had any other opportunities to work side-by-side with a thoroughly proven group of faithful beings who have been growing in wisdom for many millennia and whose motto is: “What the United Midwayers undertake, the United Midwayers do."?

To join hands in the dissemination of the fifth epochal revelation is, I believe without reservation, life's greatest opportunity. Please consider a contribution to Urantia Foundation and participate in the mission of seeding The Urantia Book and its teachings globally. Visit

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