After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he left all, rose up, and followed Him. (Luke 5:27-28)
There is so much we would like to know about Matthew. He was a devoted Jew as clearly revealed within the text of his gospel. There are no direct quotes from the tax collector in scripture. Examining the work of the apostles we can gain a glimpse into his work during the ministry of Jesus and the early church. Who was he? What kind of family did he have? What motivated him to follow Jesus leaving behind his lucrative work of collecting taxes? Questions.
The one thing we know of certainty is he was a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. Working to collect taxes was not a popular job. It would be easy to assume he was a bright spot among the Roman proxies as being honest in his dealings with fellow Jews. Yet the stain of the Romans lay heavy upon his occupation. It was that day when he was in his office the Lord approached. Hearing the plea of his teacher Matthew walked away from his job and never turned back. Matthew tells his own story in his gospel but omits (as does Mark) that he “left all.” The gospel writer was a humble man. What strikes me about Luke’s account is what Matthew left behind. He left everything.
Conversion is a work of the heart when men realize the need of redemption and come to Jesus for cleansing. There is a price to pay in obedience. Coming to the Lord requires leaving all for the Lord. Our wishes, our wants, our desires and our lives are forfeit for the Son of God. The most important lesson to learn about obedience to God is to know the price paid by Jesus is the same price we must pay. The Son of God left all to save us. Our salvation is based on the same merit and nothing less will take its place. We will never be able to understand the price Jesus paid when He left all. The humble gift we bring to Jesus is our lives. All of our life. All of our thoughts. His will is now my will. My will no longer exists.
Matthew left all to follow Jesus and he was blessed for it. As we begin another busy week in the long days of summer may we remember that no matter whether I am at work or on vacation or whatever I am doing in my life – Jesus Christ is my all. Nothing comes before Him. He is First, He is my Primary and He is my Foremost! Today I leave all to follow Him. By the way … what you leave behind is worth nothing anyway so don’t worry about it. It will not be here when Jesus comes.