Whenever I open up my Bible to read the scriptures, I always turn to the New Testament and the writings of Matthew. I do this because I want to relive the incredible experience that Matthew had while witnessing the life of Christ. How incredible would it have been to walk with Christ and see the kingdom of Heaven shown to those who had given up all hope and faith?
Matthew’s story of becoming a disciple is an amazing one, as he gave up his previous life to follow Jesus. Now, this is the case for all of the disciples who chose to walk with Christ and share His teachings, but Matthew’s circumstances were a bit different. As a tax collector working for the Romans in Capernaum, he was disliked by the Jewish people. Despite his corrupt past, Christ did not let that deter Him from asking Matthew to follow Him! Matthew’s life changed in an instant when he left behind his tax business and chose to walk beside Jesus. Can you imagine what that experience would have been like?
We learn that Matthew first met Jesus when He walked past his booth, but we do not learn much more about this exchange except that Jesus asked Matthew to follow Him, and later enjoyed dinner at Matthew’s house. It would not be surprising to hear that Matthew had heard a bit about Jesus before this encounter, but can you imagine the exchange? Jesus is preparing to teach people about God and how to live a life that is pleasing to him, and Matthew is living a life that defies that in many different ways. Despite this, Jesus showed love and grace, and Matthew was able to experience a life that brought glory to the Kingdom of Heaven.
“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Matthew 9: 10-13
I particularly love this exchange, as it shows the heart of Jesus and how deeply He loves His children. Jesus did not care that people disliked Matthew, or that he was acting in an occupation that brought hard times to many. In turn, Matthew was convicted to give up his former life and pursue one that would strip away the material items of the world that he had appreciated and loved. He chose to follow the path that Christ laid out before Him, instead.
All of the disciples had a choice to follow Jesus and enter into a relationship with Him. Because they chose to, they embarked on a life journey that was more amazing than what they could ever dream of!
Jesus is calling you to walk with Him, despite your past. Will you?