Jesus and Levi (15-11-21)
Bible Reading: Mark 2:13-17
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.
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples:
"Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
On hearing this, 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."
It can be a bit confusing when people are known by a middle name, especially when they go into hospital, as with both of Helen’s parents. Her father was known as Arthur, but his first name was Graham so, when he was in hospital we had to remember to ask for information about Graham Stevenson. But that is Helen’s brother’s name – all very confusing.
In this passage from Mark’s gospel, Jesus calls Levi, a tax collector, to follow him. This is also the case in Luke’s gospel, but in the same passage in Matthew’s gospel, the tax collector is known as Matthew.
It is not known why this change occurs; maybe it was his middle name, or maybe Jesus changed his name as he changed Simon’s to Peter. In the Old Testament it says that Israel will be known by a new name, and in the New Testament book of Revelation it says that the saints in heaven will be known by a new name.
When we put our faith in Jesus, St Paul says that we become a new creation, the old is past and the new has come. Maybe this was Levi’s experience when he stopped collecting taxes from the Jews on behalf of the Romans and became a follower of Jesus, an apostle and the author of one of the gospels.
As a follower of Jesus you may not have a new name here on earth but, as a child of God you have a new identity in Christ, and the failings of the past are behind you.
Notice though, that when Levi left his tax booth to follow Jesus, he didn’t lose contact with the people of his past life. Instead of walking away from them, he invited them to meet Jesus.
There is no one better person to introduce your friends and family to meet Jesus than you. What could you do to help your friends and family become followers of Jesus? Maybe, like Levi, you could plan a dinner so they could meet some of your Christian friends.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you see me as a new creation.
Give me the courage of Levi to create opportunities for others I know to find faith in Jesus.
Surrender – I’m giving you my heart