THE CALL WE MUST ANSWER
Lord, speak to us clearly about each one’s particular calling and assignment.
Read MATTHEW 9:9–13
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Jesus calls us! O’er the tumult / of our life’s wild restless sea, / day by day his sweet voice soundeth, / saying, ‘Christian, follow me’” (Cecil Frances Alexander, 1818–1895).
Jesus’ powerful word has healed the man with leprosy, stilled the storm, freed the mentally enslaved and pronounced forgiveness. Now his word operates in people’s hearts and wills, calling them into discipleship. No one may volunteer as Jesus’ disciple. Jesus rejects all offers (Matt. 8:19–22), calling only specifically chosen people to join his inner circle. We don’t know what qualifications Jesus wants, but here he calls someone whom society has rejected. It is difficult for Bible translators to find a suitable word to replace “tax collector” or “publican,” neither of which bears sufficiently negative connotations. Running a pyramid business, they are underlings to those who have purchased the right to gather taxes for the Romans and are despised as unpatriotic, dishonest and unclean. “Collaborator” might be the nearest modern equivalent. This is the Matthew whom Jesus calls to join him.
The concept of a personal call poses problems for Christians. We are all called into a relationship with God through faith in his Son—although someone like me, a Christian from childhood, no longer remembers it. My memory’s extent is simply that I grew to love the Jesus my parents loved. I once took part in a panel for a very difficult interview for an important Bible Society position. All six applicants felt strongly called. Each was an outstanding Christian. It was hard to tell five of them that they were unsuccessful. One had already made significant personal and family arrangements. Yet we all feel that certain people have been specifically called, particularly if their sphere of service is difficult. The truth we discern here is that, as in Jesus’ time, not everyone receives a clear call to a particular task but that most of us Christians, like the first Christians, have responded to the call to love Jesus and then, despite our initial uncertainties, strive to follow him.
Recall your initial encounter with Jesus. Was it the result of a search or did it happen spontaneously?
Lord, I gladly answer Your call to trust in You. I don’t always discern the way; please guide my steps and keep me safe on the path to eternity.
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