2 Corinthians 5:17
To some men and women there comes the rare experience when it seems, if only for a moment, that the barriers between God and the soul disappear and they find themselves in His very presence. Such an experience is often decisive in that life is never quite the same again; something new has broken into it, adding new vision, beauty and power. It is a new dawn, a divine reveille, which arouses one to action for God.
This is what happened in the life of Matthew the tax collector. As he sat at his work Jesus burst in upon his vision. For a moment a door opened into another world, and Matthew heard an authoritative voice calling, “Follow Me!”
(Matthew 9:9). He closed his books, put away his money and followed Jesus.
This one supreme, quiet, insistent voice called him to a high vocation. It was the imperative command of a royal person.
Following Christ, like falling in love, is a mutual matter. It is Christ coming to man and man coming to Christ. Christ offers us a new chance, a new life—and from no one else can we obtain it.
Other religious leaders had frequently passed the tollbooth where Matthew sat at the receipt of custom, but they made no impression on him, nor did he on them. To them, Matthew was a traitor to the Jewish race in the service of the hated Romans, collecting taxes from the Jews for a foreign power. To them he was a social outcast.
But Jesus never looked upon men in terms of what they were, but in terms of what they might become. Jesus knew what potential lay dormant in the tax gatherer, and He stirred impulses that opened up vistas to a new life. Where the Jews saw a rogue, Jesus saw a potentially honest man. If Matthew’s pen had been used for perfidy, a new Matthew could wield it to write a gospel. The crafty auditor could become, through Christ, a Christian author giving to the world a record of the immortal Word.
Is there a more inspiring thought to those who have failed, whose lives are blighted and broken, than that Christ always looks for the best in men? He knows the worst is capable of the best through divine grace.
To see in Christ a love which is not in ourselves, and to open our hearts to it, is the way of salvation. The real Matthew was awakened. The world becomes a different place when we follow Christ. Life vibrates with a new challenge:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
George B. Smith, Meditations for the Ordinary Man