Tax-Collectors of Men

It is never an ordinary day when Jesus shows up to your job. In the initial stages of Jesus’ ministry, his reputation was spreading quickly. This man was no regular rabbi. He was not a humdrum holy man. When he interrupted your life, you would eventually thank him for it.

Read what happened when Jesus called some of his first disciples in Matthew 4:18-25.

18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

Jesus was a carpenter by trade (Mark 6:3), and he dared to ask some fishermen to change their profession while he taught them how to do it. Jesus never asked Matthew the tax-collector to become a fisher of men. Can you imagine how awkward it would have been if Jesus said to a bunch of fishermen:

“Follow me, and I will make you tax-collectors of men.”

It was the wrong context. For Matthew, it would have worked. For these fishermen, it would have been plain odd.

Jesus met people where they were and then took them where they needed to be.

What does his method show us about Jesus’ willingness to use our distinct context? He doesn’t use cookie-cutter templates when working with us. He knows us well, and he knows the best way to address every single one of us.

Would Jesus ask you to be a fisher of men or something else? Based on the focus of your life, what would Jesus ask you to do?

Think about all that these disciples watched Jesus do (4:23-25). They could have missed it by refusing to leave their comfortable vocations. He called them away from something comfortable to something even more fulfilling. He even used their expertise to help them understand what he was calling them to do.

While we often refer to all Christians as “fishers of men,” and rightfully so, let us not lose the beauty of this direct approach to men whose lives had been spent on being fishers of fish. He met these men in a distinct way, and he called them in a unique manner.

What is he using in your life to call you deeper in discipleship with him?