Summary: Illustration of Accepting Jesus when he calls as a parallel to young people accepting Jesus when they grow up in the church and not needing to wander off into the world.
Matthew. The Disciple. The man who wrote the gospel of Matthew. Matthew followed Jesus the very first time that he was called. Today we have two ladies, Sandy & Grace, who have grown up as a part of this congregation who are making their choice today to follow Jesus. They too are following through on the call that Jesus has made on their hearts. Let’s consider for a while the conversion of Matthew. Let’s turn to Mark 2:14.
More than any other disciple, Matthew had a clear idea of how much it would cost to follow Jesus, yet he did not hesitate a moment. Upon leaving his tax-collecting booth, he guaranteed himself unemployment. For many other disciples, they could always return to fishing, but for Matthew, there was no turning back.
Two changes happened to Matthew when he decided to follow Jesus. First, Jesus gave him a new life. He not only belonged to a new group; he belonged to the Son of God. He was not just accepting a different way of life; he was now an accepted person. From outcast to accepted, that must have been wonderful for a despised tax-collector! Second, Jesus gave Matthew a new purpose for his skills. When he followed Jesus, the only tool from his past job that he carried with him was his pen. From the beginning, God had made him a record-keeper. Jesus’ call eventually allowed him to put his skills to their finest work. Matthew was a keen observer, and he undoubtedly recorded what he saw going on around him. The Gospel that bears his name came as a result.
We learn from Matthew’s experience that we are each a work of God in progress. God plants gifts and skills in our lives, often long before we consciously respond to Him. He trusts us with skills and abilities ahead of schedule. He had made us each capable of being his servant. When we trust him with what he has given us, we begin a life of real adventure. Matthew couldn’t have known that God would use the very skills he had sharpened as a tax collector to record the greatest story ever lived. And God has no less meaningful purpose for each one of us. Sandy & Grace, today as you have recognised Jesus saying to you "Follow Me", he has the same promises of blessing and hope in store for you as he had for the tax collector Matthew. He will use your natural skills and abilities and also gifts that he has still yet to give you, as a blessing for Him and his church as you continue to grow in your Christian life.
Matthew was at his richest when Jesus called Matthew to be His disciple. The pull of the world, and his wealth was at its greatest. Jesus spoke to him. As Jesus called, all these things were forgotten, just for the opportunity to be with Him. It was the same for the other disciples as well. The things of the world were placed before them, and they also had to make a choice. You know the same issues face us today in the 21st Century. We cannot succeed in our spiritual lives if our whole heart isn’t in it.
Great success can only be achieved by giving yourself totally to that thing that you wish to achieve. Just ask an Olympian, ask them the cost of achieving their dreams, and yet their dreams result in a piece of metal and the accolades of people for a few short years. Yes, there is a cost in choosing to follow Jesus, but look at the rewards. When you weigh up the minor costs and inconveniences along the way, it is an obvious choice, it is common sense. The only problem with common sense these days, is that it is not so common.
Sandy & Grace I would like to commend you today for making this decision to follow Jesus. One of the immediate things that the conversion of Matthew did was arouse a lot of interest among his tax-collecting friends. They were very curious that Jesus could draw him away from his wealth with just a couple of simple words. The best way Matthew could see to introduce his friends to Jesus was to invite them around for a meal where they could meet him. In spite of the gossip and rumours that Jesus would create by mixing with these people, Jesus was intent on showing these people that they were loved and accepted by Him, even if the religious leaders despised and rejected them. Sandy & Grace, in making this decision to follow Jesus today, there will be people who are curious as to why you have done this, and you will have an opportunity in the way you live your life, and by the type of person you are to witness to the fact that Jesus makes a difference in your life. We have a responsibility in our Christian lives to continue to witness to the blessings and promises we have received from Jesus.