Jesus Loves Sinners: He runs toward you, not away!  Part 3

Ever looked in the mirror and thought, maybe today something will happen that will change my life forever?

Luke 5:27-32 


Levi, known as Matthew, was a tax collector for the Roman government. He was a Jew working for the oppressive Romans. If that wasn’t bad enough, even more egregious, his job was to take money from his fellow Jews and give a portion to Rome, (and keep the rest for himself). 


“After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ and he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him.” 


If you stop and put yourself in Matthew’s place, this story is absolutely stunning. Who gives up everything in what seems to be a moment’s notice?  


But was it really only a moment’s notice? 


I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have drawn you with lovingkindness. Jeremiah 31:3


Matthew noticed Jesus long before it appeared that Jesus noticed Matthew. (Not really, but it seemed that way to Matthew). Most likely, Matthew had remained in the shadows while Jesus was teaching the people. Matthew was mesmerized by the words of Jesus … but he was a sinner. He was a despicable tax-collector and hated by everyone. He wanted what Jesus was giving, but he surely didn’t feel he deserved it.  


Without Matthew even realizing it, Jesus was drawing him with His lovingkindness. 


Jesus was walking along and the Bible says that Jesus noticed Matthew. This is to say that He fixed His gaze and attention upon him. Do you think that Matthew woke up that morning and had any idea that the Lord and God of the universe, the King of kings and the Lord of lords would notice him? And not only notice him, but the word implies that He intently fixed His attention on Matthew. 


I prefer to avoid notice. In my youth, if I was in a group and the attention was turned toward me, I’d turn bright red and freeze up. Some students prefer to sit in the front row so that they can be sure to absorb all that the teacher has to say. My practice, on the other hand, was to sit in the back row, hoping that the teacher wouldn’t notice or call on me.   


Matthew was going about his daily work when Jesus stopped and of all the people in the crowd, Jesus focused his attention on Matthew. Matthew couldn’t avoid the intense gaze of Jesus. It was his time. Jesus had a plan for Matthew. Approximately 25 years from this day where he was sitting in the tax booth, minding his own business, Matthew would write one of the four gospel accounts of Jesus that would be placed in the Holy Bible and memorialized as God’s Holy Word. 


Ever looked in the mirror and thought, maybe today something will happen that will change my life forever? This was that day for Matthew. 


The gaze of Jesus 


Imagine being on a crowded street, watching the famous Thanksgiving parade in New York. What if your favorite celebrity was in the parade? As they passed by, what if they stopped in their tracks, and amid thousands of people, this celebrity stopped and focused on you. Forgetting about the parade, they walked over, looked you in the eyes and spoke directly to you. What if? 


We don’t know exactly what had been happening in Matthew’s life leading up to this moment. But we do know that something had been happening to prepare him to go with Jesus; Matthew didn’t push back; no hesitancy, no resistance. Jesus spoke two words and Matthew obeyed;  


… Follow Me. And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him. 


God notices you! 


Consider the fact that God notices you. In Genesis 16, Sarah’s maid, Hagar ran away from her. But God chased after her. The Lord found her and told her that He had a plan for her life. He informed her that He was with her and He needed her to return. Hagar was overwhelmed that God noticed her and called her. She said, ‘you are a God who sees…I have seen He who looks after me.’ 


When you want to be reminded of how intimately and carefully God looks after you, read Psalm 139. It is amazing! 


You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you understand my thoughts from afar; you scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.  


How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You. 


Just like Matthew, Jesus has set His gaze and attention upon you. He has called you because He has a plan and a purpose for your life. Pray and reflect this week upon God’s calling and purpose in your life. 


Father, it’s amazing to realize that you think of us always and your thoughts toward us are precious. Your thoughts toward us are to give us a future and a hope; plans for welfare and not chaos. Yes, in this world, we will have tribulation. But our hope in you is sure and with it, we have joy because You have overcome this world. Amen!