Tuesday, March 09, 2010



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!