There’s a moment when the tide turns. It goes one way, and then there’s that vital moment of shift. Everything starts moving in the opposite direction.
The clock counts up to midnight, and suddenly, it’s a brand new day. Everything has changed.
In our lives too, there are moments of shift. You may well “fall in love” in gradual phases of affection and friendship, but there’s a moment when you finally say yes to your thoughts and feelings. It’s like synchronising the movement of the gear stick and the clutch, and feeling the moment of engagement as the car changes gear.
And here’s the moment of shift in the life of Matthew Levi.
“After these things Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.”” (Luke 5:27)
Were there “gradual phases” of listening and receiving from Jesus that predate the moment of shift? No doubt. Alfred Edersheim, a Biblical historian, even thought that Levi followed Jesus about and taxed the crowds that came to hear Jesus teach!
But if that was so, then Levi also got to hear the teaching of Jesus for Himself. And that’s an interesting point, since tax gatherers were not allowed to come into the synagogue to hear the Word of God taught. And Levi would have heard truths from Jesus that he had never heard before. All his professional life, he would had been told that he was unclean and outside of God’s loving regard. But Jesus taught the exact opposite.
And in one radical moment, Jesus gave him the invitation that changed everything. And Matthew Levi said yes.
How wonderful, to be singled out, and spoken to with kindness and trust; to be included, when you have experienced so much exclusion. No wonder he said yes!
I love this about Jesus. There are people who think they have sinned too much to have Jesus love them. But He does. There are people who think they have made too many mistakes to have Jesus notice them, or care about them. But He does. Jesus doesn’t care that society hates Levi. Jesus doesn’t care that Levi is wretched sinner. He just wants Levi to follow him. And look how Levi responds in Luke 5:28.
“So he left all, rose up, and followed Him”. (Luke 5:28)
He left his tax gathering booth. He left all the money, and rose up and followed Jesus. This was a once in lifetime opportunity for Levi, and he knew a good investment when he saw one. On the one hand, he could continue to be a tax collector, earning piles of money, but continue to have everybody hate him and despise him. Or, he could leave all his money behind, and follow Jesus, where there was love, and acceptance, and most of all, forgiveness. It’s not even a choice he had to think about. He just got up, left all, and followed Jesus.
What would you give up to follow Jesus? Are there things in life that you have been searching for which you thought would give you fulfilment and satisfaction? Maybe you have even sinned a lot in order to achieve these dreams. You’ve cheated and lied and cut corners. Maybe you’ve made a lot of mistakes in life. If people knew half of what you’ve done, they would never want to be near you again.
But do you want to hear something amazing? It doesn’t matter to Jesus. He is calling you. It doesn’t matter what is in your past. It doesn’t matter what is in your life right now. He wants you to follow him. It doesn’t matter what other people think of you. You are someone He wants by His side. You don’t have to fix your life before you follow Him. Just follow Him right now.
Experience the moment of shift.