Read: Mark 2:1 – 3:6
Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. Mark 2:13-14
I love the Gospels. I love that Matthew, Mark, and Luke were each writing to a different audience. In the book of Mark, Mark is focused on the Roman people. His main focus is to show without a doubt that Jesus was God himself. So he jumps right in by talking about the miracles of Jesus. In our reading today we find 5 stories that are linked together by theme of opposition to Jesus. In each of these stories Jesus’s opponents are challenging his authority.
We are going to focus on Mark 2:13-17 today. Mark spoke to the Romans, but the book of Matthew addresses the Jewish people. He fills his stories with Old Testament teachings to help his readers understand that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah that they had been waiting centuries for. Remember that Jesus finds Matthew (a Jew) as a tax collector. Matthew’s job was to make the Israelites cough up their money to the controlling Romans. What made him so hated was that it was standard procedure for these tax collectors to charge even more than the Romans required and pocket the difference for themselves. Clearly Matthew hadn’t read Dale Carnegies “How to Win Friends and Influence People”!
So here is this hated Jewish tax collector, Matthew (also known as Levi), sitting there ripping people off when Jesus walks by. This is when the miracle happens. Jesus looks at Matthew, fully aware of who he is, what he does for a living, and all of the sins he has committed and simply says “Follow Me”. God calls us all the time and we ignore Him. You know what the hated, sinful tax collector did? He dropped what he was doing, gave up everything he had and followed Jesus! I love this story. Jesus can change anyone – if we will trust Him!! And Jesus can use anyone – if we are willing to obey!
The rest of the story goes on to tell about a meal at Levi’s house. Jesus is there with other tax collectors and sinners and the Pharisees go crazy. Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Hope for us all. Thank you Jesus.
Lord I thank you for your Word. I thank you for the New Testament that teaches us about your Son. Thank you for sending Jesus to us to save us from our sins. Thank you for this story of hope, forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Help me to always trust and obey. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.