Matthew 9:9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s office; and He said to him, Be My disciple [side with My party and follow Me]. And he rose and followed Him.
As with many of the other disciples, when Jesus said “Come, Follow me”, Matthew left behind his old life behind and took on a new identity-that of a disciple of Christ. While some of the other disciples were fishermen, or something respectable, Matthew was a tax-collector. In our world, I haven’t ever met anybody who is too fond of our tax agency- the IRS- and in Jesus’ day, I have a feeling the tax-collectors were even less appreciated. A few verses later it says that Jesus sat at a table with tax-collectors and especially wicked sinners, so it makes me wonder if the tax-collectors in that time were dishonest, cheaters, and wicked men. Regardless, Jesus took one look at Matthew and didn’t see him for what he was, He saw him for who He was called to be. Instead of a wicked man, Jesus saw a righteous disciple. Matthew had a choice to make. He could have stayed where he was, cheating people, collecting taxes, and living a sinful life. Instead, when Jesus called him, he chose to become a follower of Christ. Something inside of him responded to the call, and took him from who he thought he was, to who he truly was- a disciple of Jesus.
In 1 Peter 1:15-16 it says 15But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living. 16For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. If we follow Jesus, we too will be holy, free from our past of sin and shame, and will have the ability to be righteous, blameless, and spotless through His blood. It only takes one thing- everything. If Matthew decided he liked his old life, if he decided he couldn’t let go of his old identity, if he thought he was unworthy of being a disciple, if he didn’t feel that he was good enough to be in the presence of God’s Son, he would have stayed right where he was and he never would have fulfilled the destiny that was waiting for him.
Matthew isn’t unique. Jesus looks at each of us and doesn’t see the people we are, He sees the people he called us to be- His followers. When He calls us we then have a choice. We can allow our past, our present, our unworthiness, our guilt from past mistakes, or our unwillingness to surrender to stop us from answering His call. Or we can leave behind everything we used to be, and become who He created us to be. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us 17Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! We have the opportunity, like Matthew, to stand up and walk away from our old life of sin and embrace a new life with Jesus.