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July 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“And He went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them. As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him.”—Mark 2:13–14 (NASB)
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth—less 40 percent income tax! Yes, sadly, the best things in life are free (plus tax). And for the people of Israel living under Roman oppression, taxes were unbearable and tax collectors despised. They were indiscriminate in the funds they gathered, keeping much for themselves. So, for Levi, employed at the tax office, life looked pretty good financially, but I imagine friends were few.
Yet, there at the crowded seashore, Jesus saw Levi and befriended him. I wonder at those words: He (Jesus) saw Levi. Here, the word “saw” means to discern clearly. It’s almost as if Jesus looked not at Levi but into him. He saw his situation, his choices, his sorrow, and his regret. Levi was a Jew and chose to be a tax collector for Rome, an enemy of Israel. Even so, don’t we all make choices we later regret? And when given the opportunity to change, don’t we want to join in that process?
Curious, too, is the name Levi—for it means joined or attached. In an instant, the Lord saw him, peered into him, and called him to engage with Him in a life that certainly wasn’t going to be easy, but would be redemptive, righteous, and free.
When Jesus asked Levi to follow Him, He asked him to essentially join Him as His attendant, to walk the same road. He made a public proclamation that even the worst of sinners, even a tax collector, would not be excluded from coming alongside Him. Two simple words that impacted the future of Levi’s life are the same words Jesus still uses to call sinful people: Follow Me.
All of us have a choice to make—to follow Him or to continue on our own road. Levi took the former, and he went on to be an eyewitness of Jesus’ earthly ministry. You may know him as Matthew, the tax collector referred to in chapter 10 of the gospel that bears his name. Through that gospel, he became one of the four greatest evangelists the world has ever known. How clever that Matthew means “gift of Yahweh,” for his decision to follow Jesus produced his written testimony of the greatest gift God has even given mankind—Jesus Christ.
Where will your road lead once you follow Him? Be assured that though it may not always be easy, it will be redemptive, righteous, and free.
PAUSE: What was life like for Levi, the tax collector? What was it like for Matthew, an apostle of Jesus Christ?
PRACTICE: Have you heard the calling of Jesus to follow Him? How has He spoken this to you? Through a loved one? A billboard? A feeling deep inside? Are you on that road with Him? What prevents you from taking more steps?
PRAY: Yahweh—that is Your name, God. It encompasses all I will ever need at any given time. God of all creation, You so loved the world that You gave Your one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. To not condemn, but forgive. Lord Jesus, I want to follow You wherever You lead me and be a testimony of Your great love. Help me to do that so I may forever glorify Your name. Amen.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.