Mark 2:13-17 (NIV)
13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 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.
The sounds of the crowd echoed off of the small lean-to as they passed. Some of the people scowled as they walked by then shaking their heads in disgust and finally disappearing out of sight. This repeated numerous times within the hour, and the occupier of the rickety shack was used to the looks his line of work emitted from the population. He was a tax collector after all, and the reputation of such an established profession was despised by most and avoided by the rest. The whispers and cursing under the breath was all a part of the hazards of the job. He lets the moment pass by, exhales a deep breath, and then bends over the weathered table again to resume his work.
He is so consumed with his “paperwork” that he almost misses the most epic moment of his life. As the sound of rustling paper replaces the echoes of the passing crowd he begins to sense that he is being watched. He looks up from the stack of papers still needing to be inspected, and sees a man looking directly at him. He doesn’t know how long the man had been there just looking at him, but the tax collector is nervous. “No one looks directly at a tax collector” He thinks to himself, “Why is he just staring at me?” he wonders. Then the most peculiar thing happens. The man calls this collector of taxes by name, “Levi, come with me” He says. For a moment, for one single solitary moment, Levi is absolutely still, as if he is firmly glued to the ground within his work space. “I can’t just get up and go…can I?” He wonders to himself. His entire future hinges on this one pivotal moment in time and he doesn’t know it yet. On one hand if he says “no I’m not going anywhere, I have work to do” then things will remain the same. Taxes will be collected, harsh expressions on faces, and he will always be unwanted within many social circles around town. On the other hand, if Levi does go with this teacher what will happen? What will happen to his family? Will he be able to return home? So much hinges on this decision, so many variables and yet Levi, finding the strength to move once more picks himself up and makes the decision to follows Jesus.
Levi, known to us by the name of Matthew made a crucial decision that day which would not only change his life, but the lives of all those who would one day read his writings also known as the gospel of Matthew, one of the four gospels of Jesus Christ.
Isn’t it amazing that Jesus selected a tax collector, a profession despised by most people in society to help him spread His story of redemption to the world! Among his other disciples were the rejects, outcasts and the not-good enoughs. He turned the world upside down with His message of love, redemption and grace. He used both men and women, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, the educated and the street smart to convey this all inclusive message to the lost, seeking, and broken.
Still today, the Lord calls to you and to me to follow Him! We may be far from perfect. We may be lacking education, self-confidence, social and peer acceptance and many other inadequacies. Yet He calls us, and can use us if we are available to accept His direction for our lives. Matthew couldn’t have imagined that day where Jesus would lead him, yet he followed. We too are asked to do the same. “Follow me” Jesus says to us…what will your answer be?
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