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Follow Me

“Follow me.” Those two words, although short, have the power to transform lives and change the course of history. Look no further than Matthew, the tax collector, for proof.

When Jesus spoke the words “follow me” (Matthew 9:9) to Matthew, his life came to an abrupt crossroads, a turning point, a once in a lifetime junction. On the spot, Matthew had to make a decisive decision about his future. Would he remain in his safe and comfortable bubble, collecting taxes and living for himself? Or would he willingly walk away from everything he knew and held dear to embrace the great unknown with Jesus?

Matthew chose Jesus. He chose to give up everything for the sake of following the most incredible, miracle working man he had ever seen or met. And even though he had no idea what lie ahead or what challenges he would face along the way, Matthew trusted that Jesus was who He said He was – the Son of God who had come to take away the sins of the world.

I believe that we all, at one time or another, will have a moment like Matthew where we will be presented with the ultimate choice: go with Jesus or go our own way; crucify the old self or cling to it with a death grip.

This is the crossroads of our redemption where we must decide if we will walk away from our comfortable station in life to follow after Jesus or willfully choose to remain separated from God and a slave to our sin. Matthew moments are of the utmost importance for they determine the eternal fate of the human soul. Saying “yes” to Jesus by grace through faith in His perfect sacrifice makes the way for our redemption and reconciliation to God. But to choose Jesus in our Matthew moment is only the first step in what will become a lifelong adventure full of crossroads, junctions and decisive moments. Our first “yes” will open the door to a series of opportunities to either stay the course or backslide into sin and waywardness.

These repeat moments of decision oftentimes present themselves in the midst of life’s troubles and challenges. When following Jesus isn’t necessarily easy, when the struggle is real, when the walk is taxing, this is when the echo of Jesus’ invitation is heard most clearly – “follow me?” Matthew had at least one of these moments, as John recorded in his gospel. It occurred on the heels of a hard teaching from Jesus about His body being the bread of life. In response to these truths, many followers began to waver in their devotion and some even turned their back on Him entirely, choosing to no longer follow God’s perfect Son.

It was at this moment, while disenchanted disciples were walking away from the way, truth and life, that Jesus turned to His core group of twelve and asked, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” (John 6:67) Right then, every one of those men came to another crossroads. This was their moment of truth, their test, where the sincerity of their devotion would be exposed for what it really was. The question was, would they go all the way with Jesus? Or would they stop short?

Once again, Matthew chose to stay with Jesus. He chose to remain devoted while others chose to give into their doubts. Matthew believed in He who held the words of eternal life rather than trusting the minds of mere mortals who could not grasp the great truths of Almighty God. Even when the going got tough, Matthew didn’t run for the hills. He dwelt with Jesus, rooted in confident faith that his Lord was trustworthy and true.

As I’ve peered into these two crossroad moments in Matthew’s life I’ve been struck with two timeless truths about faith and following Jesus.

The first is that in order to hear the call of God we must be listening. This might seem like a given, yet how often do we find ourselves listening to every voice but the voice of God? In this noisy world where we are constantly being bombarded by media, music, other authors and self-help gurus it is all too easy for the still small whisper of God to become drowned out. Therefore, we must be intentional about who we are listening to and what we allow to fill our ears and minds. This will require silencing competing voices and asking for God’s help as we strive to listen more intently to His Spirit.

The second principle is that of immediate obedience. Notice that Matthew didn’t hesitate when Jesus extended His “follow me” invitation. Nor did Matthew ask to phone a friend or request a night to sleep on it before making a final decision. No, Matthew responded right away. He obeyed immediately. He did not linger or second guess the call of God on his life. He submitted without delay.

Immediate obedience is key to being a true and faithful follower of Jesus. At these crossroad moments in our lives when the way is clearly set out before us, to delay is to disobey the Lord our God. And to disobey the Lord our God is to separate ourselves from the safety of His perfect providence and protection. Furthermore, our disobedience alienates us from Him and His glorious purpose for our lives.

Beloved, each one of will encounter Matthew moments on this journey called life and how we respond to them has the potential to transform not only our lives but the lives of those around us. My prayer is that we will respond with Matthew like faith, throwing off everything that hinders so we can seek after Christ with steadfast love and devotion. May we listen intently and obey immediately. And may we submit our lives, stay the course and go all the way to eternity’s shore with our Savior and King, the Lord Jesus Christ, the righteous Son of God.

 “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