Matthew the Tax Collector. Looking at Matthew, Jesus said, "Follow me." That is it! Nothing overtly profound, but just two words--a simple command.
9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him.
Matthew 9:9, NKJV
(See also: Mark 2:13-14 and Luke 5:27-28)
Matthew the tax collector, was sitting at a table--just another day at the office, so to speak--when Jesus walked by. Looking at Matthew, Jesus said, "Follow me." That is it! Nothing overtly profound, but just two words--a simple command. How did Matthew respond? "And he arose, and followed him."
There is no note of a question, or any excuses offered; Matthew just responded simply by following Jesus. In actuality, this is exactly how the Lord Jesus Christ comes to us today, in this the 21st century. The simple command is still in effect: "Follow me." How do we respond?
Most, in today's world, simply ignore the command of Christ. It is of no more importance to them than if a child would say to them, as the adult, "Come and play." Why is there so little response to the words of Christ?
Sadly, most people never even hear or read the command of Christ. At a time when there are more Bibles available than ever before, they are read less. Even in "Christian" America, most people are Biblicaly illiterate. Even among confessing Christians, the Bible is seldom read. Due to busy lifestyles and the tantalizing temptation of television, many do not read anything--not even books or newspapers, much less the Bible.
Many others hear the call of Christ, but choose to go their own way. They do not want to be bothered with the narrow views of the Bible when they live in such an open society where many former taboos are now openly accepted. Satan has truly been busy and effective, has he not? The cares of this world have stolen the hearts of the people!
There is another group of people who, tragically, do not understand that the command of Christ is aimed specifically at them. Many confessing Christians today believe that the command to follow Christ is optional. Once they have "made the decision" to follow Christ, they are home free. Salvation is now theirs. They view the command to follow Christ as an option for those select few who are more spiritually minded. Is that true? No!
The command to follow Christ is for all believers, and it is not optional. As a matter of fact, if one believes that being a Christian is just simply a matter of making a decision to accept Christ as their Savior, but then feels no further desire to be obedient to Him, that person should be forewarned that their very salvation lies in jeopardy.
Following Christ is not just a simple, one-time decision. Rather, following Christ is a complete change of heart and life. Becoming a Christian means that all the sinful things of this world begin to lose their shine and luster. As one grows in the knowledge and understanding of Christ, the things of this world just seem empty and vain.
Such was the case for Matthew the Tax Collector. Never again was his life the same. Though we know little about his life after Christ died and was resurrected, yet we know he continued to minister to the early church. As a matter of fact, the first book of the New Testament is an account of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as written by Matthew.
That is exactly the experience ever true believer should have. Though we still wrestle with sin in our lives all the days we are on this earth, yet we should expect a gradual sanctification or growing in our relationship to Christ. Our love for God and for the Lord should continue to grow and mature, so that we love the things of God more and more, and the things of the world less and less.
What a wonderful blessing God has given to His people. As Christ continues to call, "Follow me," go this day and follow Him. May you find in Him the pearl of great price, your Savior, your guide, your strength, and your blessing, all of the days of your life on this earth. And, may you, like Matthew, the Tax Collector, then be ushered into His great and glorious kingdom, forever and ever!