Cross Words: Discipleship… Jesus chooses the unlikely

By Isaiah Pauley

Last week, I wrote about the origin of discipleship. It’s called salvation. My prayer is for everyone to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. But I know that’s not the case, so here’s part two of “Discipleship.”

Turns out, I’m not the only one who desires you to be saved. The Bible says God “… desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4 ESV).

What’s holding you back?

Maybe it’s a voice deep down inside of you that says, “You’re not good enough. You carry on too much. You sneak around too much. You cheat. Lie. Cuss. You’re just not Christian material.” Bull crap. That’s exactly what Satan wants you to think. Here’s the truth: Jesus chooses the unlikely. Let me show you.

The Bible says, “After this he [Jesus] went out and saw a tax collector named Levi [Matthew], sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And leaving everything, he rose and followed him” (Luke 5:27-28 ESV).

So here’s Jesus calling another disciple. That’s not the crazy part. The crazy part is who He’s calling. Matthew is a mess of a person, and the “good” people know it.

The story continues, “And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’” (v. 29-30 ESV).

You see, in those days, tax collectors were bad to the bone. These fellas worked for the Roman government, and the government needed money. So what did tax collectors do? They intentionally cheated people of their finances. They stole money. And they had a bad reputation. People hated these guys.

Here’s what Bible History Online says: “The tax collectors were usually Jewish and therefore they were hated by their own people. When they collected their taxes for Rome they would turn over the required amount of money, and whatever they could add on for themselves is what they kept.” It goes on to explain that tax collectors “… were treated similar to the worst kinds of sinners and prostitutes.”

So why in the world is Jesus asking a tax collector to be one of His disciples? Why is Jesus eating with these people? Because Jesus chooses the unlikely. He is a friend of sinners. If you still don’t believe me, let me show you another example.

“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way [Christians], men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2 ESV).

Meet Saul. He kills Christians. He’s the worst of the worst. But for some reason, Jesus calls him to be a disciple.

While Saul is on his way to murder more followers of Christ, God approaches Him. The Bible says, “… suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’

And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’

And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do’” (v. 3-6 ESV).

Turns out, Saul is blinded. A guy named Ananias speaks to him on behalf of the Lord. God tells Ananias, “‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel’” (v. 15 ESV).

Wow. First a tax collector. Now a murderer. Why in the world does Jesus choose such nasty people to be His disciples? Need I say it again? Jesus chooses the unlikely.

Saul’s name is changed to Paul. The Apostle Paul. Probably the most respected man besides Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

This is a message for someone who feels too rambunctious to be a disciple of Jesus. If that’s you, God wants you to know that He is more than enough for you. He desires to redeem your life. Just like Matthew. Just like Paul.

We’re all sinners. None of us are good enough. But if you feel like you’re the worst of the worst, then know God sees your best. All it takes is a willing heart.

By Isaiah Pauley

Isaiah Pauley is passionate about sharing Jesus in a simple way. Follow the journey of this young pastor at, on Facebook at Isaiah Pauley Page, or on Instagram @isaiahpauley.

Isaiah Pauley is passionate about sharing Jesus in a simple way. Follow the journey of this young pastor at, on Facebook at Isaiah Pauley Page, or on Instagram @isaiahpauley.