The Disciple Matthew

Based on Matthew 19:16-24

Room 202

Matthew was a rich man—a publican who collected taxes for the Roman government.     The coins at the top of the panel represent his wealth and are made of various metals, like brass, lead, and silver.  They also contain the image of Caesar on them.  The coins are surrounded by a field of red, indicating the blood shed in the Roman conquests as they pursued their nationalistic goals. 

In contrast, the coins at the lower part of the panel are made of gold.  This indicates that when Matthew began to work for Jesus his wealth was not generated by the collecting Roman coins, but by “collecting souls” through the power of the Gospel of Christ.  The coins are imprinted with the cross of Christ and the places where Matthew preached.  The coins as well as Matthew’s name are mounted in a field of blue to indicate his loyalty to Christ and not to his wealth.

Most of the background in the panel is covered with a variety of brown rectangles.  These dark colored shapes represent a wall or barrier people erect to block out God. The shaft of white light which pierces through this barrier represents the Kingdom of God revealed to the world through the love of Christ.

The artist reminds us with the passage Matthew 19:24 that we have to focus our life on Christ if we are to enter the Kingdom of God.  The writing on the white shaft of light states this passage, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” The wall of Jerusalem had a small opening often called the “needle’s eye”.  People could enter the city through this small opening when the regular gates were closed.  It was extremely difficult for a camel to squeeze through this opening even if he was in a kneeling position and had no baggage on him.

Jesus uses this comparison to explain to a young rich man that it is extremely difficult to enter the Kingdom of God when other things in life are more important.

On the panel, notice the coins at the top of the shaft of light cannot fit into the opening. Notice too, that the text is written in a “gold” color representing the richness of God’s blessings. The analogy suggests that when material riches, like money, become more important than our relationship with God, we have closed the opportunity to experience the blessings of Kingdom of God.  Some of these blessings include His presence in our life and the promise of eternal life in Him in heaven. 

Matthew’s priorities were changed when Jesus came into his life.  His life was enriched by the love of God and that was the message he shared in his world.

In memory of Emma Sieving

Donated by Prof. and Mrs. William H. Lehmann, Jr

Last Published: February 19, 2016 11:48 AM
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