Wednesday, December 13, 2006



Along the shores of the northern end of the Sea of Galilee was a tax-collector booth. Levi, Matthew, was the one who manned the booth. No doubt Levi had observed many of Jesus’ miracles and heard lots of speeches and conversations with Jesus. And, like the local barbershop in a small town, Levi probably picked up lots of people’s opinions about Jesus.

Now, Jesus comes from the house that was bustling with people coming and going to be healed. After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

Can you imagine? Here is Levi, a very non-popular tax collector who was known by most everyone around the Sea, has been personally chosen by the new and most popular rabbi to follow and study under Him. Levi had never excelled in his studies with the rabbis, yet now finds himself “chosen” by this Jesus to be a follower. Levi may have fantasized about being a part of a rabbinical school and maybe even thought about how wonderful it might be to just hang around this Jesus. I can imagine that he and Jesus most likely had exchanged glances on several occasions. Then, shock of shocks, this Jesus walked right up to Levi and invited him to “Follow Me.” It was an invitation that said, “You are welcome and acceptable to be a follower.” Levi was ecstatic and threw a party!

Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. He naturally invited his best friends who were not part of the religious community. Levi, who had been an ‘outsider’ has now been invited to be an ‘insider’ with the new rabbi Jesus. And, those who have been the traditional ‘insiders’ are now standing on the ‘outside’ of this unusual appointment.

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" Two of the primary tenets of the ‘religious’ were keeping the Sabbath and separation from sin and sinners. They viewed themselves a pure and holy—separate from the non-religious who were the sinners and tax collectors. For Jesus to hang with the unclean rather than with the pure was unthinkable and offensive to them.

Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Jesus responds to their thinking by revealing His mission—to reach out to the sick, because they need the doctor. Those who deem themselves healthy had no need of a physician. The sinners saw their need for God’s Messiah while the so-called “righteous” were too busy trying to keep themselves separate and pure, mostly to keep their lofty positions among the people.

By calling the non-religious, the sinners, to Himself, Jesus turned the world upside down and is still doing it today. His call is summed up in the two most revolutionary words ever spoken: FOLLOW ME! It’s not follow this denomination or religious system, but FOLLOW ME. He’s looking for those who need Him most and are interested in what He can do for them. Let me ask you, “Do you see your need for Jesus and what He can do for you?” FOLLOW HIM!



One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?
Well, which is easier to say? Naturally, the easiest thing to say is “Your sins are forgiven”, since you can’t see it when a person’s sins are forgiven. Jesus then does the more difficult of the two options, so that they might believe that He can forgive sins.

But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." So he said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."

There are 3 observations that strike me here:
1. The devotion of the men who carried their friend to Jesus. You can actually carry those who are interested in Jesus, but are damaged in some way.
2. Sometimes you may need to call others to carry you to Jesus. This was an amazing help to the paralytic man.
3. Jesus was moved by the faith of the men who brought the paralytic man to Him. It was their faith that moved Jesus to forgive the paralytic’s sins.

We desperately need more men who are willing to rip out roofs in order to introduce people to Jesus. We need people who will actually believe for others. Let me ask you, would you be willing to carry your friends to Jesus? Are you doing that right now? Also, are you willing for others to carry you to Jesus? We need a greater sense of relationship that goes both ways. We need more roof-rippers and stretcher riders! Jesus will do the rest.