Follow me AND be my disciple.
Jesus wants all of us, not some of us. He needs every part of us, not just parts of us, to fulfill His great mission in and through us. How humbling that He even considers us! Matthew had a lucrative career; he was rich and making a whole lot of money. He could have followed Jesus and still kept going in his career, holding on to his dreams and his money, one foot following after Jesus, one foot planted in his lifestyle; but he didn’t. In response to Jesus calling Matthew to follow Him, the Bible says, “So Levi (aka Matthew) got up, left everything, and followed him” (Luke 5:30).
Matthew didn’t make the decision to just follow Jesus, he also became his disciple. There were, are, so many people who say they follow Jesus, but there seems to be something different in those who follow and become His disciple. There is a difference in those who follow Jesus around for what they can get, and “the blessings” they constantly ask for, compared to those who follow Jesus and become His disciple, those who, in essence, obey. Those who follow and leave everything behind as Matthew did. Those who follow and surrender their lives, their dreams, their will and let Jesus rule and live in and through them. Those who follow and become a vessel for all that is good in Jesus to pass through to others, regardless of who the others are and what they have done. There is a big difference.
Matthew didn’t just stop there either. He didn’t just leave everything behind and begin to obey Jesus. He then invited others to do the same. He became a disciple who in turn invited others to become a disciple. “Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guest, along with many tax collector and other disreputable sinners” (Matthew 9:10). The “religious” people, those who followed Jesus close enough to “look” like a disciple, were bitter and asked, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” (Matthew 9:11)
Scum?! Can you imagine? It almost makes me chuckle, such “dignified” people who “follow” Jesus letting the word scum come out of their mouths. LOL! I wander if there is a more descriptive translation in the Greek? Don't think I'm judging, as I sadly have had worse slip out of my mouth, and if it didn't slip out it was certainly in my heart, (let's be real, you have too). It just makes me chuckle. What’s so sad is that as much as they followed Jesus and His teachings, they didn’t understand Him at all. How many of us follow Jesus and fail to really understand Him at all.
The challenge for me here is to ask myself, am I following Jesus while trying to maintain my comfortable life and stay out of the line of discomfort for myself and criticism from others? Or, am I following hard after my Savior and obeying Him with complete abandon, regardless of what comes my way and how fearful I may be?!
JESUS, let my answer be YES!!