Matthew 9:9 (ESV) As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
Matthew was actively participating in his crooked business when Jesus came and said, “Follow me.” therefore the only preparation we need to begin our discipleship is an invitation. Which tells me the way we often do discipleship is counterproductive, unbiblical, and downright impossible. According to the example of Jesus we need to invite people then invest in them.
Jesus had been hanging out in Matthew’s region of Galilee for about a year, and no doubt Matthew had heard about Jesus and probably followed him around, (1). However, it wasn’t until Jesus personally came along and said “follow me” that Matthew was empowered to leave a life of sin and become a disciple. I find it interesting that Jesus doesn’t come along and say: Matthew you need to stop your sinning, be sin free for an indefinite amount of time, and then I will put you to work. No, Jesus gives Matthew the invitation and the invitation gives Matthew the power to leave his life of sin. Jesus didn’t put a bunch of prerequisites, or expectations on the invitation, he just said “follow me.”
Imagine the amount of people that would become disciples if the only prerequisite required was an invitation? Imagine what the church could become If we simply echoed the words of Jesus, “follow me.” The pressure would be removed. The self-reliance eliminated. It would not be left up to our strength anymore. We are simply following the master and relying on His strength. He then comes into our home, with sinners and all, and begins changing us. Throughout the New Testament the only preparation given to begin discipleship is an invitation. And in each case, without question, the disciples dropped their nets, or their money counters, and followed Him.
But it didn’t stop there. Jesus then went to Matthew’s home. An invitation is all you need to begin your discipleship, but your going to need an investment if your going to become a true disciple. We need to have Jesus, and the church, to invest time into instructing us. If you read the story of Matthew Levi you see that right after Jesus invites him, He then invests in him. Jesus goes to Matthew’s home. Matthew 9:10–13 (ESV)And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” First lesson in discipleship completed.
Many times we want to give instruction before we give the invitation. The problem with that is then it depends on us. But when we put the invitation before the instruction, and instruct as we invest in people, true disciples are made! The invitation is an act of grace, and the response to Christ’s investment in us creates a response of grace. Therefore we become disciples of his grace. It wasn’t until Jesus personally took the time to invite Matthew that Matthew had the power to leave his life of sin and follow Him.
This is the type of discipleship that we need. One that invites and then invests. Maybe you have been putting off getting involved at church because your struggling with something. Matthew was actively participating in sin when Jesus came and said, “Follow me.” therefore the only preparation you need to begin your discipleship is an invitation. Stop making excuses. The invitation is open!
1. Burke, John. “Mud and the Masterpiece.” Baker Publishing Group