‘Jump At The Chance’.
Now, if you’re engaged in this short plan, you’ll probably know from experience that it is usually pretty difficult to see people begin a relationship with Jesus. It can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, taxing, and costly to those of us who are following Jesus. So, the verse we start with seems like a pitcher of ice-cold water thrown at our face and drenching us in its bracing, shocking, attention-snatching immediacy. I’m sure you noticed Jesus’ refined approach.
He came upon this tax agent of the Roman government. It’s as if He wasn’t looking for one. He just stumbled across Matthew.
He was ‘collecting taxes’. That is, Matthew was at work. He was engaged in his employment. He was busy.
‘Immediately Matthew jumped up and began to follow’! Wow! That job was SO bad, Matthew ‘immediately jumped’ at the chance to get out of it! But, look, though we’re aiming at some easy humor here, there’s something to it. Obviously we don’t know Matthew’s whole backstory. We can infer that he was unpopular with Jews (TPT applies the adjective ‘traitorous’) and the Romans showed him disdain. We can guess that he was wealthy but that this wealth didn’t buy him happiness. And we can speculate that Matthew was frustrated with his life, torn by the social and ethnic tensions he’d brought upon himself. That’s a long way of underlining our punchline: ‘That job was SO bad, Matthew immediately jumped at the chance to get out of it.’
Now, look, we’re not suggesting that it will always work out, but there was one other key component to Jesus’ method. He invited Matthew,
‘Come, follow Me.’
And that is the most amazing invitation that any of us will ever receive. And, coming as it does from Jesus Christ, it is also a command – the most compelling command we will ever hear.
The takeaway for us? Let’s give the Holy Spirit some credit here and assume that the conviction that Matthew felt is in some ways multiplied to over 7.7 billion people alive today. And that many of them also recognize that their lives are SO bad that they’d immediately jump up to leave them and follow Jesus.
What’s all that’s missing? An invitation.