June 11, 2023: The Most Unlikely Disciple

statue of Jesus with Lamb on shoulder

Second Sunday after Pentecost

The Most Unlikely Disciple

I have always been fascinated by the call of Matthew. There he was sitting at his tax collector’s booth, doing his job as he did every day. Suddenly a man appeared and said only two words: “Follow me.” Without question or hesitation, Matthew got up and followed Jesus.

Matthew was an unlikely choice for a disciple, because he was a tax collector. The Roman Empire’s practice was to recruit tax collectors from among the people they had conquered. Tax collectors could charge more from the people than was actually due, in order to line their own pockets. Matthew would have been hated by his fellow Jews, because not only was he working for the Romans; he was extorting his own people for personal gain. Tax collectors were so despised they were banned from the synagogue and classed together with robbers and murderers. In short, they were considered scum.

And yet Jesus called Matthew, a low-life tax collector as one of his disciples. Jesus saw in Matthew, not only what he was, but what he could be. No one ever had such faith in the possibilities of human nature as Jesus did. Implied here is the ultimate in forgiveness and acceptance.

When Matthew met Jesus, his heart was stirred. He gave up a comfortable and lucrative job with security, to follow Jesus on the journey of a lifetime. When Matthew left his old life behind to follow Jesus, he gained a peace and joy and an adventure in life that he had never known before.

Jesus is calling each of us. He sees not only what we are, but what we can be. When Jesus calls, let us follow. Without hesitation, may we leave our old lives behind and follow Jesus on the adventure of a lifetime.

Matthew W. Allen, pastor, Olivet Moravian Church,
Winston-Salem, North Carolina