Matthew was a tax-collector in Capernaum, which means that he was working for the Roman authorities who governed the land. This was an unusual activity for a Jew to engage in, working for those who had conquered his people. In this regard, Matthew is a picture of all of us in that by nature we are engaged in activities that are against the kingdom of God.
Sometimes Jesus used human instruments as his means of contacting people, as we can see in the Gospels when he used Andrew to bring his brother Peter into contact with him. On other occasions, Jesus would find someone by himself without the involvement of another person, as was the case with Philip. This is what seems to have been the case with Matthew.
Jesus spoke to Matthew briefly. Two words only, ‘Follow me.’ Yet Matthew immediately did so, leaving behind his desk with everything on it. I suspect Jesus gave this call at a quiet moment in the day. It is unlikely that he would have spoken to Matthew if he was busy in a transaction with people, although some no doubt would have been glad to watch a tax collector leave without taking money from them. There must have been something special about the words that Jesus spoke that caused Matthew to do what he did. What was so special about them?
The invitation of Jesus was a provision of peace for Matthew. When does peace come into a soul? It comes when an individual meets the Provider of peace. Before he meets the Provider, all can only be speculation, mere discussion points about a theory. But once contact is made with the heavenly Provider, peace comes.
Matthew realised that the words of Jesus held out for him prospects that were very attractive. It is likely that he was aware of some of the things that Jesus had promised about his kingdom and he wanted to have them. Why else would he have followed Jesus so enthusiastically? Following is not the same as wandering. Matthew followed Jesus because he knew that Jesus intended to take him and the rest of his people to a wonderful destination.
Those features occur in virtually every conversion to Jesus, whatever the age or the background of the person. They sense that what the gospel says and promises is true, that Jesus is sufficient by himself to bring peace to one’s soul, and that following Jesus will lead to a wonderful destination that is full of joy and gladness.