And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said to him, Follow me.…
I. WE ARE TO LEAVE ALL OUR EVIL PRACTICES THAT WE MAY FOLLOW CHRIST. We must relinquish our former iniquities altogether, and without reserve. Suppose that St. Matthew, when Christ commanded him to become His follower, had answered, that he would attend upon Christ occasionally, when his occupation afforded him leisure: and that for the future, when employed in collecting tribute, he would commit acts of extortion only seldom. Would Christ have accepted such service? You muse surrender yourselves entirely to Christ. You must follow Him wholly. You must follow Him alone. When you reserve some favourite sin for your occasional gratification; is that to leave all for the sake of Christ? No man can serve two masters.
II. WE MUST RENOUNCE, FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST, ALL OUR EVIL INCLINATIONS. This step is necessary to make repentance complete. St. Matthew not only relinquished his occupation, but abandoned it with gladness. You do not see him taking leave of his home with reluctance and sorrow. In conformity to this example every Christian is not merely to abstain, as by constraint, from sinful actions; but to glorify his God by cheerful obedience, and to bring his will under thankful subjection to his Redeemer. He is to be holy in thought, holy in heart, holy in his designs, holy in his wishes.
III. We, like St. Matthew, ARE TO RENOUNCE PRIVATE INTEREST, WHENEVER IT INTERFERES WITH OUR OBEDIENCE TO JESUS CHRIST. Behold a decisive proof of sincerity l He does not honour his Saviour with his lips only. He glorifies the Son of God by making large sacrifices for His sake; by immediately making every sacrifice which is required. He counts all things but loss that he may win the approbation of his Redeemer.
IV. We are to renounce our own righteousness; TO CAST AWAY ALL RELIANCE ON MERIT OF OUR OWN FOR ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD. Why did St. Matthew become a disciple of Jesus Christ? Why did he leave all to be with that man of sorrows? Because he beheld in that man of sorrows one who bare our griefs; one who bare the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. He recognized the appointed Saviour; the Lamb of God which took away the sins of the world.
V. We must, in the last place, FOLLOW OUR REDEEMER UNTO THE END. Such was the stedfastness of St. Matthew. He remained constantly with Christ until the evening before the crucifixion. On that evening he showed, in common with the other apostles, what man is, when the Divine grace withdraws itself, and leaves him to his native weakness. All the disciples of Christ forsook Him and fled. Of that guilty flight St. Matthew was a partaker. After the Resurrection, he received, in conjunction with the other apostles, pardon and strength from his forgiving Lord. When Jesus had ascended into heaven, we behold St. Matthew continuing closely in prayer and supplication with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and the brethren; and bearing his part as an apostle in the election of a successor to the traitor Judas. Boldly remaining at Jerusalem, when havoc was made of the Church after the martyrdom of Stephen, he proved that he was not of those who have no root, and in time of persecution fall away. And the early history of the Christian Church informs us that, in the face of danger and death, he persevered until the end of his days in preaching the gospel of his Lord. From every Christian patient continuance in well doing is indispensably required.
Parallel VersesKJV: And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me.
WEB: After these things he went out, and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office, and said to him, "Follow me!"