Devotional: “Follow Me!”
Please enjoy The Gospel as found in “The Leather Journal” of Pastor Phil Newton of the South Woods Baptist Church of Memphis, TN. This is a service of the https://www.invertedchristian.com/ A ministry of The Duke Consulting Group (Used by permissions.)
Jesus Said "Follow Me!"
“As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him” (Matthew 9:9).
Jesus gave no thought to conforming to other’s expectations. The scrupulous scribes and Pharisees, who kept externals of the Law to appear righteous while giving no thought to the inner man, disdained the tax collector. He had his own sin category, even despised by the common man. The culture had turned its nose against tax collectors with their reputation for cheating, greediness, and as arms of the Roman oppressors. Tax collectors took advantage of their position at the expense of the hard-working person. When the Pharisees saw Jesus with Matthew and his friends, they disdainfully asked, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” (9:11) In their mind, Jesus would need to hold Himself aloof from such societal rabble and misfits in order to be righteous. But Jesus came for the sick not the healthy (9:12).
Yet Jesus had no thought of the culture shaping His mission, even religious culture. The Father had sent Him to save sinners. He had sent Jesus to bear the sins of the misfits and rejects of society. The religious folks thought their practice sufficient to count themselves right with God. The tax collector, however, understood far more theology than the Pharisees. He knew God to be too holy and righteous for mere men to achieve through their religious deeds, that kind of righteousness to satisfy God. Matthew recognized his plight before God. The pure, bold, gracious, and transforming word from Christ, “Follow Me!” filled his hopeless heart with boundless hope. He saw the way to God through Jesus Christ. He bowed to God’s authority and humbled himself as a desperately needy man before God, as he rose from his lucrative position to abandon all and follow Jesus.
That’s the call of the gospel. Its declaration speaks to the heart of sinners, breathing hope and promise into the throne room of darkness and despair. Even hearing those words, “Follow Me!” and truly hearing and knowing them as light and life, implies the penetrating and liberating power of the good news. Turning his back on the life of greed that had long held him in the bondage of unbelief, Matthew heard, rose, and followed Jesus. Jesus did not fill in the details of where the following would lead or what following entailed or what he would face in following Jesus. Those things palled in the voice and face of the One commanding, “Follow Me!” And they still do. To hear and respond to Jesus’ call in the gospel to follow Him is enough.
Here’s the very essence of responding in repentance and faith at hearing the gospel. We follow Jesus whatever the challenge or demand or difficulty or sacrifice or loss. We follow Him whom to know is life, forgiveness, hope, love, and immeasurable joy. Matthew found his purpose for existence in following Jesus. He rose and followed so that afterward nothing was ever the same. Following Jesus brought joy into this man who lived trapped by his sin. Christ as Lord became his all. Following Jesus un-traps the trapped! Everything from this point onward centers in Jesus. Did Matthew grasp all of that at the moment? Probably not but he knew the command of Christ brought life to him. He followed and lived in a newness of existence. Jesus still calls sinners to follow Him.
“Follow Me!” Jesus commands. In Him is life. Without Him, there’s no life. Follow Him.