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Follow Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction
Levi, a tax collector.
Luke 5:27–28 ESV
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
Jesus called Levi, also known as Matthew, to follow Him. Jesus was calling Matthew to be where Jesus is and to do what Jesus does—to go beyond just being a spectator, but being a full participant.
What did this mean? What did Matthew have to do in order to follow Jesus?
Tax collectors, like Matthew, were normally quite well off. They were considered collaborators with Rome and extortionists for themselves—routinely inflating the tax to line their pockets.
In order to follow Jesus, Matthew abandoned a lucrative career.
When Matthew left his profession to follow Jesus, he left it for good. It would have been impossible for him to get his job back due to the fact that there were many waiting in line to receive a commission from Rome.
When Matthew left, there was no going back.
What Matthew demonstrated in answering Christ’s call is critical for us to take note:
This action of Matthew is consistent with what Jesus would say later:
Luke 9:62 ESV
Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
These words of Jesus drew His audience back to the occasion of the calling of Elisha in the Old Testament ().
Elisha was plowing the field when Elijah the Prophet came to him. In answering the call, Elisha slaughtered his yoke of oxen, burned the plowing equipment, and then set out to follow.
When Jesus invited Matthew to follow Him, Jesus had this requirement: “rely on my word, and cling to it as offering greater security than all the securities in this world.”
rely on my word, and cling to it as offering greater security than all the securities in this world.”
Jesus is calling us to a life of unwavering commitment.
God is not calling us to “try it”—where we try it as long as the circumstances are favorable. God is calling us to be committed.
Jesus makes this kind of commitment clear:
Luke 9:23 ESV
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
This kind of unwavering commitment and single-minded obedience requires us to leave the old life behind.
Obviously we cannot do this by ourselves—will power is not enough and grossly inadequate. But God gives us the answer:
Romans 8:13 ESV
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
The life that Jesus calls us to is not easy and it is hard work. Too many professing Christians, too many church goers are in it as long as it suits them—but they are uncomfortable embracing the surrendered life—but that is the life God is calling us to live.
Luke 9:23–26 ESV
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Luke 9:23-
Author Mark Batterson puts it this way: “The Gospel costs nothing, but it demands everything. It’s all or nothing. If Jesus is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all. Many people believe they are following Jesus, but they have mistakenly invited Jesus to follow them.”
God is calling us to surrender—and follow Him.
Hebrews 12:1–3 ESV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Heb
Hebrews 12:1–2 ESV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
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