MATTHEW’S DEFINING MOMENT
After this Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything, and followed Him. Luke 5:27,28.
Deep inside of us are two opposite beliefs; one is a lie and the other, the truth but, despite that, we believe them both. One is the belief that comes from our old nature in Adam. We believe that we are worthless. And yet, in spite of that, we have a feeling that there is something better to this life than where we are and what we are doing now.
It is not Jesus’ purpose or role to push people deeper into their sense of worthlessness. “I did not come to condemn the world,” He said, “but to save it.” His passion is to put people back on the path to wholeness and a worthwhile life for which we were created anyway.
Matthew had chosen a life which isolated him from his people. They despised him for his life of dishonesty just to get rich. He was greedy and selfish, yet lonely and unhappy. He knew, deep down, that he was made for something better, but he was trapped and couldn’t get out of his guilt and shame.
Perhaps Jesus sensed Matthew’s unhappiness when He passed by the tax collector’s booth that morning. He didn’t stand over Matthew in judgment or condemnation, but His presence awakened in Matthew the possibility of a better life. Matthew did not hesitate when he heard Jesus’ invitation to come after Him. He didn’t question the Master’s deviation from the rabbi’s practice of calling disciples from the rabbi school – the Beth Talmid, not the tax collector’s booth.
He didn’t stop to ask what would happen to him or his money and possessions. He simply walked away from the only life he knew and followed Jesus. It was enough to follow Jesus because He inspired such confidence that there was no fear about the next step or the next day or the next year.
For Matthew it was the most natural thing to gather around him the people who didn’t mind associating with him because they felt like him, unclean and therefore guilty and rejected. If Jesus accepted him, then he would surely accept them. Perhaps he thought, “Let me give them an opportunity to accept the reconciliation He freely offered me,” and so Matthew planned a banquet.
Matthew had stepped into the new and better life he always knew was possible. His heart was free from the nagging sense of unworthiness. He wanted to share the joy of this freedom with those who felt like he felt. It was true – there was a better life – in company with Jesus.
Matthew’s defining moment taught him that he could be completely comfortable with Jesus because Jesus was comfortable with him. Jesus is comfortable with you too, because He has removed all the barriers between Himself and you.