Cheaters Need Love Too!
“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9 NIV)
He was sitting there alone—time to think about the day and his decisions. The older couple he cheated out of their savings. The single mom he bilked for her son's college tuition. Their cries reverberated in his ears. Each of them pleading for him to have mercy. Begging him to give them more time to raise the money to pay both he and Ceasar. Tax season was, for Matthew, the best of times and the worst of times. He went up and down each neighborhood vested with the Roman government’s full authority and demanded that taxes be paid. He loved the sound the coins made when placed in his treasure box. He loved the sounds, even more when he overcharged the people three and four times their tax amount due because he could keep the rest for himself. At least he started out having fun, but lately, he had a void in his heart. No matter how much he collected or what fancy toy he bought with the money, it never satisfied him.
Alone he sat. He had no real friends and a host of enemies. He wondered if he could change. He was constantly reminded that he was a sinner and the worst type - a Jewish tax collector that robbed his own people to appease the dreaded Romans.
You can imagine his surprise when he heard an unfamiliar voice call his name. There wasn’t angst or disgust in His voice, no hint of judgment or contempt. He listened to his name called in a tone that made him hope that possibly someone saw that he wanted so desperately to be loved and accepted. He looked up and saw inviting eyes and an outstretched hand. He heard words that he would never forget, “Come, follow me.” Without thinking twice, he jumped up, leaving his bench and belongings and followed the Carpenter from Nazareth.
Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough? Like you have done too much or gone too far? The reality is, you may be correct, but He’s calling you to follow Him anyway. That’s from a love that puts more stock in your future than in your past. Matthew felt that love and followed Jesus and, in doing so, changed the world. Jesus is calling you today.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)
- Have you had a moment like Matthew when you finally heard or experienced the invitation you were waiting on?
- How do you feel about your opportunity to follow Jesus?