“he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’. And Matthew got up and followed him…” (Matthew 9:9)
The man heard of the news. But He didn’t bother to learn more. He opted not to. Not that he didn’t care. He did. In fact, he cared so much that his heart leaped with joyful anticipation upon learning of the news.
The preacher was coming to town.
Not just any preacher, mind you. But “The Preacher”. The country has seen preachers come and go for centuries and another one of them should not have grabbed his attention. But not this preacher.
He was different.
Yes, he spoke powerfully and healed miraculously. But more than the message and the miracles was the love that emanated from him. It was compassion at its best. Mercy at its purest. Gentleness at its most pristine.
The preacher, in more ways than one, mirrored a love so perfect that one can’t help but be drawn to him. Could it be true that the image of the God that he preaches is the real image of the God we have? Not of fire and brimstone but of compassion and love?
The man wasn’t sure. Perhaps this was just a wishful thinking, a shot in the dark, on his part. But what if it were true?
If it were, then this could mean a new beginning for this desperate man. A fresh start. A clean slate. The years of hiding behind the mask of pretension can end today. The decades of pain and shame of being called “a sinner” can finally be put to rest today.
Matthew wished. But his doubt was bigger than his faith.
“What if the Master will turn me down or worst, accuse me of my sins?”, Matthew thought. “And what would the people say? Why do I, a sinner, have the gall the approach this holy man?”
That’s why even if the whole town came out to meet the preacher that day, he stayed in his office. His spirit was eager for him to run with the crowd to meet the preacher and to prostrate himself before this holy man. But his heart kept him glued on his chair. Too risky. Too scary. Too humiliating if he would be turned away.
But as always, God knows where we are.
And so Matthew, embroiled in his guilt feelings, didn’t expect what he saw. Right at his doorstep, stood the last man he expected to see.
With compassionate eyes and loving smile, Jesus uttered the two most powerful words that Matthew has ever heard in his life, “Follow me.”
Matthew may have looked around to see if Jesus was talking to someone else. To someone else more holy. Not to a tax collector who stole from the people. Not to a man who has never gone to the temple to worship. Not to a man who made a terrible mess of his life.
But to Matthew’s surprise, there was no one else there. Just him, with all his filth and dirt laid bare before Jesus.
Jesus’ eyes were fixed on him and His words directed at him. Jesus knew exactly who he was calling.
The Gospels do not say if Matthew broke down in tears. But I am pretty sure in his heart, he did.
Jesus knew where he was in his life. That he didn’t have the courage to meet Jesus and beg for mercy. That his pride was bigger than this faith.
But Jesus also knew how badly he wanted to turn a new leaf. Jesus knew that he wanted to start anew with his life but that he didn’t know how. That he hated himself and his sinfulness and that he wanted to finally make it right with God. That he was tired of pretending to be someone other than who he really was — a child of God.
That is God’s same message to you today, dear reader.
He knows where you are.
Your pain. Your guilt. Your frustrations. Your dreams. Your deepest desires.
God knows them all. And that’s why He comes to you today just like what He did for Matthew: To meet you exactly where you are in your life.
God loved Matthew so much for Him to passively wait for Matthew to come to Him. He purposefully went to where Matthew was.
God does the same thing with you today.
Go to Him. Embrace Him. No words are needed. No words are enough. Just turn to Him and never let go.
For the God who loves you knows exactly where you are today!
I remain, your friend, in Christ,